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scottiebie

How Many Exclusively Make A Living?

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@liambesaw, when I first put together my own pottery studio, I was still working full-time as a designer. I gave myself $5000 out of my design earnings to spend on the initial setup. From that point forward, every dollar invested in the pottery business was earned through pottery sales. Including the nice renovation of my studio that happened 11 years later. Yes, I made pots in a gross basement for 11 years. You don’t need a bells and whistles studio to be a serious potter.  Edit to add: the reason I did the renovation was NOT that I simply wanted a nicer studio. That’s not a good enough reason. The reason was because the demand for my work had outgrown the capacity of my original setup. Therefore, I knew that expanding the studio would result in an overall improvement to my finances, which it did. 

So it only takes a modest amount of seed money to get started. In your case, you already have all the basics that you need. You can get started now. You’ve been making occasional online sales. If I were you, my next move would be to find a small, local, low-pressure show to do this summer, with a booth fee of $100 or less. Pay for the booth with your online sales. Hopefully, you’ll come home with a few hundred dollars, and that will pay for your next show. And so on. 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. As Mark said above, as Mark has said many times on this forum, as I have said many times on this forum, it will be many years before you establish yourself. Finding and building a market takes years. You need patience and persistence, and nice pots. Not fancy equipment or money. 

Edited by GEP

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The banks won't touch Canadian potters for a startup loan either.

I've done something similar to what Mea described. I still work out of a 11x10 basement studio (storage and kiln are outside of this). I owned my wheel, 3 boxes of clay and my glaze kitchen when I started to go from making a few pots to making a formal business out of it. I opened a seperate bank account for all things business and scraped together about $700 for booth expenses and firing fees by doing stupid things like market research surveys, odd jobs and anything else that let me squirrel away $100. My first booth setup consisted of things I owned and a friend's folding table that I borrowed. I made my sign with a piece of scrap fabric and some spray paint. 

I've finished up my fourth full fiscal year in December, and I'm now at the point where I'm applying for a GST number because I'm on track to hit the amount where I'm required by the government to collect it (yay!). Yes, I'm excited about that, because it means I'll sell  more than $30,000 worth of pots this year. (Note that's not my net.)

It sounds romantic and like a humble brag, but it's actually an unforgiving pile of work, during which a lot of people will be completely confused by what you're doing. And no one was ever fully able to articulate to me how long it will take to make an income. For me, I am at the point now where I have all the equpiment I should need for the foreseeable future or an amount set aside to purchase it. I have a savings cushion enough to cover a year's worth of booth fees and a small fund for travel expenses. I can now start to pull a small but regular income.

Making pots and running a business are two very different skill sets. If you want to support yourself exclusively by making pots, you need to possess them both. If you want a profitable hobby, which is also great, it takes some work but it's doable.

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On 5/31/2019 at 4:24 PM, scottiebie said:

 making their living 

Too wide a range.  Is that "just scraping by, barely covering the rent and food" or "profits are really good, living the lifestyle and keeping the taxman in a job".

Choice of car is not good comparison.  I own a brand new, top-of-the-range pick-up truck, and a 16 year old mid-range saloon.

Everyone has their own view of being successful.  Someone I know was proud that, because they could spell, they were a secretary.  Her brother wasn't a good speller, and didn't care, but earned 3 times more than she did.

 

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On 5/31/2019 at 4:24 PM, scottiebie said:

 making their living 

Too wide a range.  Is that "just scraping by, barely covering the rent and food" or "profits are really good, living the lifestyle and keeping the taxman in a job".

Choice of car is not good comparison.  I own a brand new, top-of-the-range pick-up truck, and a 16 year old mid-range saloon.

Everyone has their own view of being successful.  Someone I know was proud that, because they could spell, they were a secretary.  Her brother wasn't a good speller, and didn't care, but earned 3 times more than she did.

 

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On 6/2/2019 at 2:24 PM, GEP said:

Successful business owners do NOT drive Novas.

I have to chuckle. I was a successful business owner (Shoestring Graphics Plus/NYC) and did indeed continue to drive an old Chevy Nova (kept it in Jersey-Manhatten was out the budget for parking). Driving that instead of spending the moola on a Benz got me other things that were a higher priority---like an apartment in the city.  I was just making a point, using hyperbole---why you pickin' on my poor ole' car LOL????  :lol:

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On 6/3/2019 at 8:41 AM, Callie Beller Diesel said:

It sounds ... like a humble brag.
 

I respect your honesty.

The ability to promote yourself and retain a sense of humility is an admirable quality.

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