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DirtRoads last won the day on August 27 2015

DirtRoads had the most liked content!

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About DirtRoads

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    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 06/01/1957

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  • Location
    Edinburg, MS
  • Interests
    MMO's like World of Warcraft. Beta tester for new WOW type games. Making the world a better place for feral cats. Helping teenagers and adults cope with and break free from video game addiction.
  1. Ok ... about the horse shoe pit. My nephew was wrong. Here is a photo taken today. The cats don't even use it now. As you can see, no one uses it. Only 2 children ever played horse shoes, at my request (grand children of employees). BUT, it makes a nice privacy fence for the dog pen, covers up my expansion, until I get it painted and trimmed to match the rest of the building. I do think it finishes out the property quite nicely You have to keep trying until you find what works.
  2. My business path has been littered with "dumb ideas". But they have never made me stop dreaming. "I've always wanted a horse shoe pit" This idea documented right here on the forums. http://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/topic/13337-qotw-did-you-do-what-you-wanted-to-do-in-2015/page-2?hl=%2Bhorse+%2Bshoe+%2Bpit&do=findComment&comment=99824 (and above it you can see all the bla bla bla about the cute retail space) Putting a retail location in Edinburg, MS was pretty much a "dumb idea" to most people. I hoped to sell $25K .... maybe even $50K, a year from this location ... my brother thought I would be lucky to sell $5K a year. A dumb idea that has yielded a profitable destination business. Two years ago, I had to expand the parking arrangements in order to keep traffic from backing up on Highway 16, waiting to get in during the Christmas rush. When I put the building there, it was a stretch to think I could pay for the gravel drive way to the business.
  3. Okay ... so where I am now August 2017?. Okay .. the cute retail building. At least it's cute, if not a "retail" building. Going in and out of 3 buildings just didn't work. Plus I needed a space that could be heated and cooled. Great storage for excess pottery, pickup orders, etc but NOT a retail space. Adds nicely to the overall effect. http://dirtroadspottery.com/images/IMG_0034.JPG As for the pug mill and electric slab roller, LIFE CHANGING. So were the ramps, rollers and racks. I can not stress the importance of this. Increased production with less output. Anything you can do to reduce points of contact. Photo story on my website: http://dirtroadspottery.com/aboutus.html As noted, "jewelry business has increased exponentially. Connected a new building to the original show room in March 2017. Just launched e commerce site for jewelry and it's going well. Why not for pottery? We're at 100% sell thru and I can't deal with packing pottery for shipment. I'm down to 2 full time employees and a Saturday retail employee. Managing a production pottery line just didn't work for me. I was literally working 70-80 hours a week to keep things flowing. Right now the business is going really well. Just waiting for my 4th quarter profits. In retrospect (7 years in): Pottery is an extreme amount of work. The points of contact with the product are very high. Anything you can do to cut down points of contact will help you. I have a production business. Training others is doable but you are assuming the role of a manager. So if you are a solo operation, you depend on your own output. It comes down to a production quota. The other end of the spectrum would be to create art forms. I have no real interest in making "art", just money. I applaud all of those endeavored in artistic creation. None of what I have to say would apply to you. Is this a profitable business? Yes. I branched out to jewelry because it is more profitable and a lot easier than pottery. But I do appreciate the pottery business. Could I make a decent living doing just pottery? Yes. One day I may move back to my "dirt roads" property and hang out there, with no retail store and just make pottery. You are going to have some set backs along the way (I don't consider them failures if you work around them). Example my fresh air market and cute retail building just didn't cut it. Two retail buildings are fine ... adding to the original small building for more jewelry has already paid for the expansion. I have numerous products, in both jewelry and pottery, that don't really sell. They are dropped from the line. Come on 4th quarter! Gift buyers incoming! Sharon Grimes
  4. Wouldn't the cost of slip casting always be a % cost to selling price ratio? I don't slip cast but the cost of clay is 7% of the selling price in my business. It never comes in at more than 7%. If it does, then the price is raised. Sometimes on certain products, like ornaments and jewelry, it is less than 7% but I still price on the 7% which adds a small amount to my overall profit margin. I price the items, based on amount of clay used. Glazing materials and electricity add 10% and 8%. Labor is 25% of the production cost. Glazing labor being 10% and making labor being 15%. You just fix the final selling cost to fit in that frame. I back into the final selling price using these numbers. That gives me a comfortable 50% margin to cover selling costs and generate a 20% minimum sales to profit ratio. MINIMUM. Note: that's assuming I don't do any glazing or making. The amount I do adds to my personal profit.
  5. Pottery Back To A Sideline

    Haven't posted in a while .. saw this and wanted to put in a word. It's really hard for most people to make any business work. In a craft, the product can be your differential advantage, but at the same time getting the "right" product can be your downfall. I'm not sure what happened in your case, but it seems the "place" element seemed to pose your biggest obstacle. Go back and reevaluate your entire marketing mix: Product, Price, Promotion and Place. I came from a background where I know my customer bases extremely well. Edinburg, MS .... I won't publish my thoughts on my most of my immediate geographic base (I said most not ALL) . But I know those customers are out there that will relish my pottery and drive to get it. I just know what sells ... how they use it and what core values my product fulfills. Example: I know faith is a core value for most of my target market and my line is full of cross merchandise. I attribute my success to knowing my customer base, better than they know themselves. I have offered advise to a couple of crafters and potters and one got the exact business they wanted. But their pricing was a little off and not yielding enough profit for the time put in so they cut back. I repeatedly told the to raise the price .... The others .... didn't really listen and have either left or are floundering. I think it comes down to business ownership and personal finances. Recently did a little consulting for a business that I'm pretty sure will make it because they are well financed. (if they fail it will be because they don't want to put in enough hours and you really can't payroll most small start up businesses, have to do the work yourself). One thing I've always recommended is that one of the household maintains a job. A job that will pay the bills and provide things like health insurance. I think my personal health insurance is running about $800 a month now and being able to pay this from the business is MANDATORY. If I can't pay that in 3 years, this business is a no go. It does take 3 years to really get most businesses up and going. Since this is my (10th or so ...would have to sit down and count them) business, I got to positive cash flow in the 2nd year. The 6th year in, business is doing well. All this said, don't be too hard on yourself. Take what you've learned and try to restart the business, if it's your dream. Let the business tell you when it's time to go full time. Look at my business model (somewhere in my previous posts). I stand by it as being successful. What have I been up to? As for myself, I have cut back to 2 full time employees and a Saturday employee to run the retail store. Overseeing production was dragging me down, making it mandatory for me to put in 70 plus hours a week. Sales dropped slightly last year but profitability was up more than 30%. There is money to be made here ... an investor (my brother who does the accounting for the business because he sees the potential profit) wanted to put in $100K and expand. And I said NO. NO in NO uncertain terms. Had 2 different companies want to buy my "designs". One came through with a solid offer, which I accepted but they backed out. I was very disappointed. Had an offer in the spring to produce this stupid amount of pottery for resale and I basically hung up on them. Be very very careful in these type offers because I have watched 2 different pottery businesses fold when national companies get involved. I've now split my time between the pottery and the jewelry business. Added another building for the jewelry and the pottery has it's own building now. And a complete e commerce website for the jewelry business. Take a look on my website if you want (in my profile). (really need to update the pottery website) Good luck and keep pursuing your dreams ... even if it's part time. Sharon Grimes
  6. Moving Studio To Montana

    Glad you're moving back. You never complained but I always thought south Texas was not optimal for you.
  7. Paint Mixer?

    I was thinking about using it for glaze. It would save some time if it worked. Takes 15 minutes but you could put it on that machine and do something else. Guess if it doesn't work for glaze, might work for something else. From the manufacturer: "We have had customers use a F5 paint shaker to mix up gallon sized batches of margaritas."
  8. Equad Vs Regular Elements?

    I have 2 L&L E Quad's. Love the stronger element. Cuts changing elements way way down. I would buy another one if I ever need. Only issue is with the lid ...until someone told me to "prop" the lid up with concrete blocks. Somewhere in the forums I posted pictures of this. Recommend it. I bought both of them from Neil. I like to know that my purchase is going to support a forum poster .... and a small operation, that is supporting someone full time in clay and their family.
  9. Paint Mixer?

    Has anyone used something like this? http://www.ushake.com/
  10. Ceramic Pendant Necklace

    Small stilts and lighter coat of glaze. Sometimes they leave small marks which we hit with a dremel.
  11. Ceramic Pendant Necklace

    I like glue flat bails, glued with e6000. Same wire as Giselleno5 for earrings. We had gotten away from ceramic jewelry, but are now bringing it back. Doing a $5K wholesale right now, all ceramic. One tip I might add is to finish your jewelry off with nice chains or faux pearls (these really sell for me). I only do one spring show and was selling tons of ceramic jewelry while a vendor a few rows over sole almost none. They were using hemp and nylon. On earrings use a nice finding. I prefer antique bronze or stainless steel. For ears in the antique bronze, you must have cadmium, nickel and lead free. The style of earring is extremely important. You have to find out what your target market prefers. I find the kidney hooks or short straight hooks to be the best sellers. I NEVER use those cheap looking fish hooks. Ceramic jewelry is a fantastic profit booster and I don't see many potters doing it right. Details are important. You must have the right findings or jewelry doesn't seem to sell. Getting ready to expand facilities for more jewelry with another 400 square foot expansion. Contact if you need more information or have questions. Sharon Grimes Dirt Roads Pottery 601-298-2000 (haven't been on too much lately ... business is really demanding now) Glue Flat Bails in Antique Silver and Antique Bronze Cross Pendant attached with Antique Bronze Glue Flat Bail Round Pendant (glue flat bail) on Antique Bronze chain and matching earrings (24 gauge high temp wire) on 38 mm Kidney Hook Earring with 24 gauge high temp wire ( just a small horseshoe shaped hook .. I don't twist like Giselleno5 but I think that's a great idea) Pendants on 8mm 32 inch glass bead (faux pearls) in Antique Bronze. I also use 6mm pearls. Available in antique bronze and silver. Earring comparison: Kidney hooks and short straight hook.
  12. Selling a business that has to move to a new location is usually very difficult. Having to move to a new location devalues the "good will" of the business. If I were a buyer, I wouldn't pay more than the cash value of the equipment and supplies. And that wouldn't be replacement cost. If you are near replacement cost, most ppl just buy new. It would start at about half of replacement cost and go downward. Exactly what are you selling? Do you have income tax returns that show profit? Do you have a customer list? There are small brokers around. You could contact one but again, selling without the location, I'm not sure how interested they would be. If you don't get a buyer, put everything for sale while you still have customers coming in. Mark it down at least a month before closing. Try to liquidate everything. If it were me, I would start that sale right now. Sharon Grimes
  13. I'm probably in the minority here but if the customer wants to buy it so be it. They are the ultimate judge.