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Not picking on accountants but they can be prone to be overly cautious. Matching is 7 1/2 percent. There may be another point or two in your state to account for unemployment and such. While the 30% is mostly spot on, most of the rest is subjective. I say this because often folks add the 30% in their budget but they never actually compensate their employees at that level. You have to consciously put together a package that pays at that level.  

 

Here's a nice link that sums up what the averages are for everyone.

 

http://www.bls.gov/ro2/ececne.htm

 

Simplyhired.com has this to say about potters in general: 

 

The average salary for potter jobs is $48,000. Average potter salaries can vary greatly due to company, location, industry, experience and benefits. This salary was calculated using the average salary for all jobs with the term "potter" anywhere in the job listing.

 

Where you fall in there is obviously based on your shops circumstances. You mentioned that you have a lot of experience hiring and that your looking for what is customary with artist and I think mostly they don't fare well in the compensation arena.

 

I guess I would make the plug that although an aspiring potter may not generally be able to command high salaries and often work long hours for low pay simply out of love of the job, there is a lot to be said for being generous with employees. It really builds a strong team that is going nowhere unless they reach a point they want to strike out on their own. Some do, but the vast majority of people would prefer a secure job with a company they are both proud of and feel very connected and appreciated. Pay good livable wages with regular bumps and an array of benefits such as flexible time, two or even three weeks of vacation, ample sick leave and at least a major medical insurance policy and you will build a very strong team that will dig deep when they need to and put your company first. Artist are no different than the rest of us and they have to pay all the same bills each month.

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Mike,

 

There is a group in the Northern Va. area called The Clay Connection -- they have a website and a Facebook page. That group is having their biennial conference this fall -- first weekend in October, I believe -- in Front Royal, VA (4-H Center). You might want to reach out to that group and see if they can point you in the right direction or go to the conference (usually around a couple hundred in attendance) and put the word out as to what you are looking for in terms of a production-type potter. Also, Bill Schran at NOVA Alexandria has taught ceramics for years and has a good program . . . he might be a good contact http://www.creativecreekartisans.com/ Also try Steve Munoz at Lee Arts Center in Arlington -- they have a good program with a good number of experienced members http://www.arlingtonarts.org/venues/lee-arts-center.aspx

 

Thanks... We joined The Clay Connection, but sadly the conference is the weekend before our grand opening / ribbon cutting and I have the mayor and town counsel coming along with all of the business owners from the downtown Herndon area, so I have to miss the conference... But if anyone from the Connection or the local pottery / ceramics scene wants to come, they're welcome to do so. Just drop me a note and I'll send you the address and directions. Grand Opening will start on 10/7 and conclude the following weekend with an open house.

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Pres;

As you know, I worked in a co-operative studio[ shared studio space] for 26 years.

There was another production potter there who wanted to hire a "wedgie boy" to wedge her clay. I think the idea was that he would wedge the clay, and she would watch his glutes/deltoids flex.She didn't end up finding any one to fit the bill.

T.

I know this is a family show, but I don't suppose a "wedgie girl" would work out very well either... :-) No, don't need a pug mill, I need a potter, but your post did make me smile...

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i like that you want to respect the person enough to hire them. folks should  be aware of the pitfalls on abusing the 'independent contractor' option. be honest about the fact that if you want them to work for you, you should hire them. someone up the list also said they didn't think you should be expected  to provide an income which someone could support themselves on. that's an incredibly depressing thought isn't it?

as potters and clayworkers we need to start seeing ourselves as the skilled people we are, and skilled people deserve  to make  a decent wage. a small pottery i shared space with was paying $15-$25 /hour, depending on the level of skill and the job. one of the full time production potters preferred to get paid by the piece, because he was an incredibly  productive  and accurate potter .he  would work out an agreed price for each different type of form and he would throw hundreds and hundreds of them.

the floor/production manager was salaried becasue it really wason that person to oversee the daily running of the shop, the quality control, the final responsibility for orders getting filled  and fired properly.  everyone else was hourly.

best wished to you on your endeavor!

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i like that you want to respect the person enough to hire them. folks should  be aware of the pitfalls on abusing the 'independent contractor' option. be honest about the fact that if you want them to work for you, you should hire them. someone up the list also said they didn't think you should be expected  to provide an income which someone could support themselves on. that's an incredibly depressing thought isn't it?

as potters and clayworkers we need to start seeing ourselves as the skilled people we are, and skilled people deserve  to make  a decent wage. a small pottery i shared space with was paying $15-$25 /hour, depending on the level of skill and the job. one of the full time production potters preferred to get paid by the piece, because he was an incredibly  productive  and accurate potter .he  would work out an agreed price for each different type of form and he would throw hundreds and hundreds of them.

the floor/production manager was salaried becasue it really wason that person to oversee the daily running of the shop, the quality control, the final responsibility for orders getting filled  and fired properly.  everyone else was hourly.

best wished to you on your endeavor!

 

In regards to independent contractors, I saved this snip from somewhere a while back that I thought summed up the downside :

 

Moral of the story: Calling an employee an independent contractor gives that
employee the power to destroy you. They hold the switch to a nuclear bomb – and you
gave it to them. So, like the doctor says when you say it hurts to raise your arm: “Don’t do that.â€

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i like that you want to respect the person enough to hire them. folks should  be aware of the pitfalls on abusing the 'independent contractor' option. be honest about the fact that if you want them to work for you, you should hire them. someone up the list also said they didn't think you should be expected  to provide an income which someone could support themselves on. that's an incredibly depressing thought isn't it?

as potters and clayworkers we need to start seeing ourselves as the skilled people we are, and skilled people deserve  to make  a decent wage. a small pottery i shared space with was paying $15-$25 /hour, depending on the level of skill and the job. one of the full time production potters preferred to get paid by the piece, because he was an incredibly  productive  and accurate potter .he  would work out an agreed price for each different type of form and he would throw hundreds and hundreds of them.

the floor/production manager was salaried becasue it really wason that person to oversee the daily running of the shop, the quality control, the final responsibility for orders getting filled  and fired properly.  everyone else was hourly.

best wished to you on your endeavor!

 

In regards to independent contractors, I saved this snip from somewhere a while back that I thought summed up the downside :

 

Moral of the story: Calling an employee an independent contractor gives that
employee the power to destroy you. They hold the switch to a nuclear bomb – and you
gave it to them. So, like the doctor says when you say it hurts to raise your arm: “Don’t do that.â€

 

 I don't really see any benefit other than avoiding a few administrative headaches to hiring a contractor. I tried to avoid it when I had my sales and marketing practice. I always found they had mixed loyalties and would just as soon throw you under a bus as give you a lift, in short... They do what's in their best interest even when it conflicts with your own. I guess that's what you're saying, just more eloquently than I did... 

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Not picking on accountants but they can be prone to be overly cautious. Matching is 7 1/2 percent. There may be another point or two in your state to account for unemployment and such. While the 30% is mostly spot on, most of the rest is subjective. I say this because often folks add the 30% in their budget but they never actually compensate their employees at that level. You have to consciously put together a package that pays at that level.  

 

Here's a nice link that sums up what the averages are for everyone.

 

http://www.bls.gov/ro2/ececne.htm

 

Simplyhired.com has this to say about potters in general: 

 

The average salary for potter jobs is $48,000. Average potter salaries can vary greatly due to company, location, industry, experience and benefits. This salary was calculated using the average salary for all jobs with the term "potter" anywhere in the job listing.

 

Where you fall in there is obviously based on your shops circumstances. You mentioned that you have a lot of experience hiring and that your looking for what is customary with artist and I think mostly they don't fare well in the compensation arena.

 

I guess I would make the plug that although an aspiring potter may not generally be able to command high salaries and often work long hours for low pay simply out of love of the job, there is a lot to be said for being generous with employees. It really builds a strong team that is going nowhere unless they reach a point they want to strike out on their own. Some do, but the vast majority of people would prefer a secure job with a company they are both proud of and feel very connected and appreciated. Pay good livable wages with regular bumps and an array of benefits such as flexible time, two or even three weeks of vacation, ample sick leave and at least a major medical insurance policy and you will build a very strong team that will dig deep when they need to and put your company first. Artist are no different than the rest of us and they have to pay all the same bills each month.

 

 

Not picking on accountants but they can be prone to be overly cautious. Matching is 7 1/2 percent. There may be another point or two in your state to account for unemployment and such. While the 30% is mostly spot on, most of the rest is subjective. I say this because often folks add the 30% in their budget but they never actually compensate their employees at that level. You have to consciously put together a package that pays at that level.  

 

Here's a nice link that sums up what the averages are for everyone.

 

http://www.bls.gov/ro2/ececne.htm

 

Simplyhired.com has this to say about potters in general: 

 

The average salary for potter jobs is $48,000. Average potter salaries can vary greatly due to company, location, industry, experience and benefits. This salary was calculated using the average salary for all jobs with the term "potter" anywhere in the job listing.

 

 

Awesome data, this was very helpful! Thanks! It looks like low $20's / hour part time and mid $20/hour full time, or just make the full time person on an annual salary and consider them a professional, which they are... Maybe make the change after a probationary period of 60 days or so? Lot's to think about.  Seems like the teens, would be reserved for a student / part time type person.

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someone up the list also said they didn't think you should be expected to provide an income which someone could support themselves on. that's an incredibly depressing thought isn't it?

 

stephsteph, I don't think this is a depressing idea at all. It's just realistic. I have a part-time job teaching pottery classes, one or two nights a week. I think my hourly wage is very good, very respectful of my expertise. However, because I only get paid for either 2.5 or 5 hours per week, the total income is negligible to my financial health. This doesn't matter to me, because I generate a livable income with my pottery studio, and there are many other rewards from the teaching job that have nothing to do with money. And the market simply doesn't support paying me more. My employer is a completely not-for-profit situation. They are not making any money, just trying to stay within budget. If I got a raise, then the tuition would become unaffordable for many, and I wouldn't want that. So my advice to MikeFaul was that there are plenty of qualified people who would love an interesting art-related part-time job, and do not need him to provide a livable income. (and Mike, I think low to mid $20s per hour is spot on.)

 

There are still two viable options to those who want to make a living with pottery/ceramics: full-time college professor, and self-employed studio potter. Not saying either of these options are easy, but they do exist. Anyone who needs to earn a full-time living should be working towards one of these directions, rather than looking for full-time private sector employment.

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someone up the list also said they didn't think you should be expected to provide an income which someone could support themselves on. that's an incredibly depressing thought isn't it?

stephsteph, I don't think this is a depressing idea at all. It's just realistic. I have a part-time job teaching pottery classes, one or two nights a week. I think my hourly wage is very good, very respectful of my expertise. However, because I only get paid for either 2.5 or 5 hours per week, the total income is negligible to my financial health. This doesn't matter to me, because I generate a livable income with my pottery studio, and there are many other rewards from the teaching job that have nothing to do with money. And the market simply doesn't support paying me more. My employer is a completely not-for-profit situation. They are not making any money, just trying to stay within budget. If I got a raise, then the tuition would become unaffordable for many, and I wouldn't want that. So my advice to MikeFaul was that there are plenty of qualified people who would love an interesting art-related part-time job, and do not need him to provide a livable income. (and Mike, I think low to mid $20s per hour is spot on.)

There are still two viable options to those who want to make a living with pottery/ceramics: full-time college professor, and self-employed studio potter. Not saying either of these options are easy, but they do exist. Anyone who needs to earn a full-time living should be working towards one of these directions, rather than looking for full-time private sector employment.

 

So much of this falls into life style choice, Some like the mix of being a studio potter and a teacher, some like to dabble while they enjoy retirement, some want full time work, some simply want a release from the daily grind. And, there are probably another 20 options I didn't mention. Some folks don't want the burden of employees, and in fact see employees as a significant burden. As for me, the tools of business are just like a ball of clay, and I get my kicks seeing what I can turn them into. Plus I love being around talented creative people.

 

So, I sit in judgement of no one, and respect the path each has taken... It's all just the pursuit of happiness, which is our right to do freely.

 

Anyway, your advice was spot on, and most appreciated. Not everyone wants or needs a living wage, and all jobs and employers are not positioned to offer such. In the DC area, a real living wage might me north of $60k, the median income is over $100k. Prices and the overall cost of living are exceptionally high. Can I afford to pay someone 20% above the going wage for a job? Probably... But, it's a very dangerous business practice. It will cut into profits, and delay our break even point. Without profits there are no wages... None... Once we become profitable anything is possible. Until then, it's market rates and wages as the owner will draw a giant salary of $0 until there is a profit.

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But doesn't the job define which one?

 

Two part time employees in my book is not remotely the same as one full time employee and to the company it really matters. They both have their place, pros and cons and considerations but if you have not determined which you need then I guess I would suggest a lot of thought into that before hiring and making a false start.

 

One of the most glaring things that always jumps out quickly between the two is where you as a company stand in the food chain of commitment when life makes it necessary for an employee to make some hard choices. 

 

Also, part time is generally, obviously not always, not a meant to be a perm situation and that means likely losing someone down the road that you have invested a lot of studio time into and having to start over with their replacement. This could be in 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years. If often hurts the most if its 6 years.

 

Just some thoughts, not disagreeing with anyone.

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Over the years, I have worked at many jobs--both as an employee and as an independent contractor.  I lived in a small town and full time jobs were hard to come by, so I put the word about that I could do small business payrolls, was well acquainted with the forms that were needed, and could track the businesses income & expenses.  At one time I probably had six or seven people I worked for. They'd bring their box of papers, checkbook registers, new hires, and once a month I'd do the P & L and twice a month the payroll.

 

If you hire part-time independents, they will charge enough to make sure your portion of FICA taxes are included in what you pay them.  Anything in the low to mid $20's is probably good for both of you.  Judging whether your hire is independent or not shouldn't be a problem, because if they are also working for other businesses--even if it isn't as a potter--which means they are independent.  They expect to work at various jobs for a variety of businesses.  The "bomb" doesn't exist.  It is a figment of someone's imagination who probably tried to skirt the tax issues and got caught.  Honesty really is the best policy

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The "bomb" doesn't exist.  It is a figment of someone's imagination who probably tried to skirt the tax issues and got caught.  Honesty really is the best policy

Hi Idaho,

 

That quote I posted was gleaned from a larger PDF written by an accountant that I got from somewhere over the years. In it's entirety he was pointing out that beyond moral obligations to run an honest business, if an employee is incorrectly classified as an independent contractor and that employee ever files any kind of claim against your business it will trigger a much larger investigation. I think in this last sentence I posted he used the 'bomb' analogy simply to drive that point home. 

 

I was just tossing it out there for the benefit of anyone hiring folks to make sure they do their homework when they classify their employees. Certainly not meaning that the original poster would do so intentionally but often new business owners may have incorrect information and inadvertently do this. I had a friend that had a new business say that he thought if he allowed flex time that his employees were independent contractors since they could come and go as they pleased even though nothing else was at their discretion.

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As someone who DOES support myself 100% with my work, i would like to increase respect for the profession and the craft enough where people who are serious about making it their vocation are able to make a living at it. the arts are a tough go, because  there are many part timers, volunteers, people who have other sources of income,but when it comes to really running a business,really making a go of it, you need to be dedicated. It is honorable, skilled work, which deserves decent compensation.

when we work for a pittance we make it tough for everyone because we inadvertently play into the devaluation of our work, our  field.

I know we all do what we can do and there isn't always a lot of choice, but i ask people to consider such things when they agree to work for next to nothing or sell their wares on the cheap.

That is why i respect entrepreneurs who do want to hire someone, or contract with a professional full time potter, and i hope they they are able to find someone who will in turn, do well for them, to the benefit of both.

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But doesn't the job define which one?

 

Two part time employees in my book is not remotely the same as one full time employee and to the company it really matters. They both have their place, pros and cons and considerations but if you have not determined which you need then I guess I would suggest a lot of thought into that before hiring and making a false start.

 

One of the most glaring things that always jumps out quickly between the two is where you as a company stand in the food chain of commitment when life makes it necessary for an employee to make some hard choices. 

 

Also, part time is generally, obviously not always, not a meant to be a perm situation and that means likely losing someone down the road that you have invested a lot of studio time into and having to start over with their replacement. This could be in 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years. If often hurts the most if its 6 years.

 

Just some thoughts, not disagreeing with anyone.

It's perfectly OK to disagree with me, I take no offense to differing points of view. In the end a healthy mature discussion will optimize the final result... You make some good points Stephen. Yes, part timers tend to have a MUCH higher turnover rate, and that rate is costly. Recruiting and on-boarding employees costs money, no question. But, that needs to be balanced against other needs of the business. In this case a start up with three lines of products targeting three different target markets. So, that ripples through everything from design through production to marketing. Part of that ripple is the need for various skill sets. For example, I need help with surface design and production pottery and studio management and retail sales and maintaining marketing copy on social media and and and... My thinking was two part timers gives me a the opportunity to diversify skill sets and test what works.

 

I can always move part timers to full time status if that's in synch with the individual's life goals. But, it's much harder to move full timers to part time status without instant turn over. The volatility of part timers is certainly a business risk. But, then so is putting all of one's proverbial eggs in one basket, which would be the case with a full time production potter. What happens if they can't help with all of the "and's"? There's no budget to expand the work force! An alternate risk. By adjusting the marketing plan and tempering production I can spread the labor force over more functional areas. 

 

One thing I've found in business that always has remained true is this: "There is more than one path to the finish line!" And, that means both strategies would probably work over the long haul. It really boils down to which of the risks does any business owner believe is more likely to manifest themselves and of those, which is he or she most able to tolerate and manage through. 

 

To stand anywhere in the food chain of commitment, we have to make a profit... Otherwise we'll stand nowhere... And, can commit nothing to anyone...

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As someone who DOES support myself 100% with my work, i would like to increase respect for the profession and the craft enough where people who are serious about making it their vocation are able to make a living at it. the arts are a tough go, because  there are many part timers, volunteers, people who have other sources of income,but when it comes to really running a business,really making a go of it, you need to be dedicated. It is honorable, skilled work, which deserves decent compensation.

when we work for a pittance we make it tough for everyone because we inadvertently play into the devaluation of our work, our  field.

I know we all do what we can do and there isn't always a lot of choice, but i ask people to consider such things when they agree to work for next to nothing or sell their wares on the cheap.

That is why i respect entrepreneurs who do want to hire someone, or contract with a professional full time potter, and i hope they they are able to find someone who will in turn, do well for them, to the benefit of both.

Well this is a great post, and I agree completely with the sentiment. It also hints at a big reason I'm investing in this business. I was in a gift shop, operated by the National Park Service and picked up several so called ceramic products, then textiles... Not a sing piece was made in America. Someone posted on this forum a photo of a distiller's packaging (ceramic jugs) being hand made by a potter. The packaging had a texture that read "Made in the USA", but the potter was in Europe. Sad... 

 

I believe that craftsman, artists, and artisans work hard, smart, and advance design faster than any corporation can. Not only that, they will provide a level of service corporations won't even consider providing. I had customer walk in my studio last week because we just  hung our signage and she was wondering if we were officially open. While we weren't we had conversation about this topic and what we'll be offering. At one point I told her, and if you buy a set of dinnerware from us, and you break a piece just bring me the shards for our garden and I'll replace it... Her mouth dropped open... She said, "I'm telling all my friends about this place, taking a picture of your sign, and posting your contact information on my Facebook page... You'll get my business and then some! Then she said the most remarkable thing... "I don't think I can call a factory in China and get a replacement in exchange for my broken plate."

 

So, our creativity extends beyond the form, and it makes a relationship with us much more powerful and meaningful to the customer if we allow it to do so... That commands a premium price, which become inconsequential in light of the overall value of the relationship. I've dedicated myself and this business to making this case, to selling the idea that handmade... locally made... craftsmanship matters. I can't sell it if I don't believe it, and if I believe it I have to pay quality wages to quality people. I suspect, not everyone will buy it, but enough will. No way will I pay people poorly, part time or full time... I pay to the level I respect, and I respect the people I hire immensely.  They make the value equation work. 

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I know I'm a little late to this discussion but oh well.

 

As someone who has hired assistants and has been an assistant .. I can tell you that this is the way to go.  the positives are better than an indi-potter.  for pay, just make sure you're flexible ... the more tedious and menial ... the faster you'll get turnover regardless of pay. but be prepared to pay a decent rate for someone to live off of AND pay off their school debts.  

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Mike, be sure and let us know which direction you go and how its working out. How is the launch prep going?

Just to give you guys an update...

 

I good friend of mine, now retired, who has been helping to get the studio open has agreed to help out. I was hoping this would happen. For now he would like to work on a piece rate with all work being done in our studio on our equipment. He's using his own hand tools. So, I'm OK with this as it gets us over the hump, I've known him for a couple of years, and he's been throwing pots for more than 30 years or so. He can pretty much throw anything blind folded doing a handstand while using a kick wheel... Amazing talent. 

 

He's also working out the kinks in some of my designs. For example, I had this pilsner shaped beer cup, and we were having all sorts of trouble throwing it consistently. Stephen came up with the idea of throwing it in two parts and the results are fabulous. So, I figure I'll bump up the piece rate to account for these "extras" he brings to the table. 

 

To figure a piece rate, I'm going by a per hour production estimate. This varies from form to form. A cocktail cup will be high volume, the pilsner very low volume. So, it would seem the piece rate needs to vary by design. So, if I use a 30.00 / hour target wage. (25.00 + Employer Tax Contributions + Goodwill % + Extras %), I divide that by the target per hour product rate for each form to get the piece rate. For example, the pilsner has a low production rate, about 10 pieces per hour, when you account for the two parts and time to join and fettle the seam. So, $30 / 10 pieces gives a piece rate for that form of about $3.00. If he gets the form down and produces 15 an hour, he makes more, fiddles around... He makes less. All in all, my labor is a fixed cost per piece.

 

The good news is, he's already at the wheel and working away. He nows my business plan and knows the design very well. Plus he's a fantastic carpenter and helps out with studio construction on the side as long as I buy him lunch! He says he's an unemployed veteran who works for food... Too funny...

 

Anyway, I'm hopeful he may join the team as a regular employee, but just in case I'm still looking to hire someone. But, with Steve on board, I'm going to shift the emphasis in one of the positions and hire a pure, part-time, graphic designer / intern who can help with surface designs. The other position will be all production professional potter. This way, should my friend decide to go tour the Grand Canyon, I won't be left in a lurch and he can be free to enjoy his retirement. On the other hand, should he join us, then all of my bases are covered. I can have someone doing the hand-building portion of production while two people are throwing with the hand-builder supporting the glaze application as well.

 

I've sent the job posting to local teaching studios and have not received any inquiries. I'm moving on to colleges and classifieds now...

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