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Opening a pottery school?


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#1 SusanM

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 10:29 AM

Hello!


I have been a hobbiest potter(give or take) for 14 years, with a pipe dream of being professional. I worked as a science teacher, and now I am a stay at home mom. When the kids are sleeping, I go out to my garage (ahem! Studio!) and make pots and dabble in fused glass, and sell them at the local farmer's market.


To make a long story short, when it is time for me to go back to work, I would LOVE to be a ceramics teacher. I love teaching, but I also love art, and I would love to spread this joy to young people. Unfortunately, like many school districts now, there are very few positions available -usually one pops open when someone retires. Jobs are getting cut due to cutbacks and it's a buyers's market for artist/teachers.


SO - my idea was to open a pottery studio that would teach ceramics and glass classes to both adults and young people, an art school. The town I live in has a strong middle-upper middle class with many stay at home parents looking for things to do with children. Possibly, we would have resident artists, sales, etc. The closest ceramic studio where people can take classes, other than the local community college, is about an hour's drive away.

Does anyone know of or have a business like this? How did you get started? Are there any resources out there to assist the startup of a business like this? Any thoughts/ comments? Is this a crazy idea?


Thanks!

#2 bciskepottery

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 09:53 PM

Reach out to the local Small Business Administration office . . . they have seminars/workshops on starting businesses (which your art school would be) and may be able to link you with a volunteer mentor. Also, check out your local community college for classes and workshops on starting a business, writing a business plan, etc. Contact a nearby clay guild/association and talk with some potters who also conduct classes or sublease studio space. It might be worthwhile to take that drive to the nearby studio and talk to the owner. Whether you are crazy or not . . . well, we are adults playing in mud. I'll say no more.

#3 Denice

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 11:29 PM

I think the previous poster has some great suggestions, I thought about having a after school program for children but by the time I talked to my insurance agent, the city, state and county about all of the zoning, regulations and inspections I would have to pass I decided to pass. I owned a retail buisness for 20 years and thought I knew what I was getting into but it had a lot more complications than a retail buisness. Denice

#4 Mark C.

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 01:34 AM

I have seen my share of these come and go-The right mix is key-One that I know thats been working up in Washington state has an expresso bar in it as well as pre made work and make your own work.
It an all ages deal-its been going about 4 years which is longer that the ones I have seen in my state last. We had one that baby sited kids as well as adult clay-it did not work.
As Denice pointed out the rules /city/insurance can put out anyones fire on this.
I;m not saying no just get all the info you can write up a bus plan-It will be big work for sure.
Good luck
Mark
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#5 DirtRoads

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 10:40 PM

I know of a business that lets people come in and paint ceramics that has been around for a few years. http://harrythepotter.net/ I just noticed that this particular business now operates without a location .. they bring the party to the customers ... hmmm. Also, those hand/foot print things that kids make seem to sell very well in a few stores in my area.

As for resources for starting a business, you can find information as suggested. But as far as financial, it's rare except for bank loans. I've started/owned about 15 different retail businesses. Some of them very successful and some not so much. The key is successfully estimating revenue. You also have to have a comprehensive accounting of expenses. . Your primary expense will be the location for the studio. Be extremely careful in leasing (I could write a book on this .... in short get the lease in an LLC. INSIST that the LLC is on the lease and not you personally so you can get out without penalty. You can email me if you want more info on this). And then you have to furnish the studio. And advertise. Most new businesses don't cash flow for at least 3 years.

Run the numbers. Example: 20 students @ $250 (cost for lessons) = 5k monthly revenues ... think about how many students you would have to have to reach monthly break even point (rent/advertising/utilities/advertising/labor/etc.

Just my thinking, this type of business would be somewhat difficult to make cash flow. You might consider adding some retail to your mix (like the hand prints) to increase your revenue. And you might need to have supplies on hand to retail too (and then you get into opening orders with suppliers ... more money tied up). The best way to make something like this work would be cut your location expense to "free".

#6 Arnold Howard

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 07:38 AM

SO - my idea was to open a pottery studio that would teach ceramics and glass classes to both adults and young people, an art school. The town I live in has a strong middle-upper middle class with many stay at home parents looking for things to do with children. Possibly, we would have resident artists, sales, etc. The closest ceramic studio where people can take classes, other than the local community college, is about an hour's drive away.

Does anyone know of or have a business like this? How did you get started? Are there any resources out there to assist the startup of a business like this? Any thoughts/ comments? Is this a crazy idea?


I would contact the Contemporary Ceramic Studio Association:

http://www.ccsaonline.com/

Sincerely,

Arnold Howard
Paragon Industries, L.P., Mesquite, Texas USA
ahoward@paragonweb.com / www.paragonweb.com

#7 Pres

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 08:30 AM

Hello!


I have been a hobbiest potter(give or take) for 14 years, with a pipe dream of being professional. I worked as a science teacher, and now I am a stay at home mom. When the kids are sleeping, I go out to my garage (ahem! Studio!) and make pots and dabble in fused glass, and sell them at the local farmer's market.


To make a long story short, when it is time for me to go back to work, I would LOVE to be a ceramics teacher. I love teaching, but I also love art, and I would love to spread this joy to young people. Unfortunately, like many school districts now, there are very few positions available -usually one pops open when someone retires. Jobs are getting cut due to cutbacks and it's a buyers's market for artist/teachers.


SO - my idea was to open a pottery studio that would teach ceramics and glass classes to both adults and young people, an art school. The town I live in has a strong middle-upper middle class with many stay at home parents looking for things to do with children. Possibly, we would have resident artists, sales, etc. The closest ceramic studio where people can take classes, other than the local community college, is about an hour's drive away.

Does anyone know of or have a business like this? How did you get started? Are there any resources out there to assist the startup of a business like this? Any thoughts/ comments? Is this a crazy idea?


Thanks!



All that you have said about the public school system is pretty spot on, of course there are baby boomers retiring at this point that will open some spots. At the same time often a program is scrapped when the "wizard" retires. I was lucky enough that it did not happen to my programs. If you wish to wing it on your own, I can tell you that it is an uphill battle. Just from the standpoint of what we put into the studio in over 36 years of work including the equipment, materials, tools, and furniture is immense. When you get down to figurimg in the insurances, hours of preparation, utility costs, tax and local fees, and other issues that will come up the problem is immense. As others have said the break even point on such an endeavor is high, and by the time you get there you will either wear yourself out, or be a manager with people working for you. It's not that it can't be done, but at what cost.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#8 GEP

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 09:25 AM

I have a neighbor who teaches afterschool pottery classes to kids in her house. She fires a kiln in her garage. It's a very low-key and small operation, but it keeps her very busy. At one point she tried advertising these classes, but stopped because her waiting list got too long. Now she only does word-of-mouth. She seems to enjoy it a lot. I'm not sure if this idea seems like a good fit for you, but if you'd like more information, let me know and I can send you my neighbor's contact information so you can get more details from her.

Mea
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#9 neilestrick

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 11:29 AM

I have a business just like that. There's way more to tell you than I can put here. Feel free to call me at my shop 847-223-1807 and I'll give you some pointers. The single greatest difficulty is advertising. Most costs a fortune and gets very small returns. I rely entirely on my web site and word-of-mouth at this point, but I'm 8 years in. The best advice I can give you is to start small and affordable. You can always grow. It doesn't take much space to do it, and you dont' necessarily need a storefront with tons of walk-by traffic unless you're doing some retail, too. I'm in a business park, with about 1400 square feet, including a small gallery and 1200 sq ft pottery studio. I teach 20-30 adults per 8 week session, up to 10 kids per 4 week session, plus scout troops, kids birthday parties, adult parties, school groups, etc. My classes can cover all my expenses now, but not at the beginning....
Neil Estrick
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#10 SusanM

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 06:42 PM

I have seen my share of these come and go-The right mix is key-One that I know thats been working up in Washington state has an expresso bar in it as well as pre made work and make your own work.
It an all ages deal-its been going about 4 years which is longer that the ones I have seen in my state last.



Where in Washington State? I might go and check them out. I am in Washington, and it seems that the economy has consumed a lot of arts and craft businesses, but there are still markets for them.


Thank you all for the great advice and things to concider. I realize that this would be a HUGE undertaking, with more work than I possibly could imagine, but we only live once, right? I am in the very early planning stages of this, and I am hoping to possibly open in 2 years. That would give me time to search for a good location and get my business plan in order.

Neil, I would love to chat with you about your business. Mea - I would also like to hear more about how your neighbor does her thing. Thanks again!

#11 Mark C.

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 12:38 AM

PM sent on Washington shop.
Mark
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www.liscomhillpottery.com

#12 SShirley

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 10:45 AM

A pottery school/studio/gallery just opened in Joplin.
http://www.facebook....250317528347379
It's a fantastic place.

#13 neilestrick

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:56 AM

Thank you all for the great advice and things to concider. I realize that this would be a HUGE undertaking, with more work than I possibly could imagine, but we only live once, right? I am in the very early planning stages of this, and I am hoping to possibly open in 2 years. That would give me time to search for a good location and get my business plan in order.


2 years is plenty of time. I cranked mine out in 6 months from starting my business plan. Very hectic times....
Neil Estrick
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Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

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