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New Potter: Advice Appreciated!

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The forums here at Ceramic Arts Daily have been a huge help as I try to navigate the intricacies, complexities, joys, and frustrations of running my own pottery business. I figured it was time to actually get acquainted with some of you and begin developing relationships that I feel could really aid me in my pursuit of doing this pottery thing full time.

 

Here's the scoop. I have only thrown/turned pottery for just a little over a year now (see some images of my work below), and would love to go full-time in the next year or two. I realize to some of you, the previous sentence may border on the offensive. I know it takes decades to truly excel at pottery and I have a long way to go. But, when I have had extended time in my studio, I have seen the quality of my pieces grow in leaps and bounds compared to periods when I only had several hours a week to give. In general, I am happy with my pots, but not content. I am consistently working on my lines, weight, function, and originality. I have so many ideas . . . 

 

Here's a little background on my business: 

 

1. Officially started in April (Running as Sole Proprietor)

2. Have been selling on Etsy, at some local craft shows, and out of my little shop

3. Put in $500 in seed money in a business account and resolved not to take any more of my personal money to fund the business

4.  My business account has paid for my startup/continuing costs and I have earned close to $3000-$4000 or so working very part time since starting in April (Graduated in May, married in June, so my time has been limited) 

5. My pieces are in several galleries in the Indiana/Ohio/KY area 

6. Just purchased a bigger kiln so I could begin ramping up production 

 

Here are my goals for the next year:

1. Earn $10,000 net by end of August 2015 

2. Further develop my voice: Specifically focusing on forms and glazing

3. Get out of the local craft fair scene and focus on bigger shows

4. Do all of this while continuing my full-time job (business writer) and without ruining my marriage. ;-) 

 

My wife and I sat down last weekend and talked about the business. We decided together that if I could clear $10,000 in profit by the end of next August working very part time, we would consider taking the plunge and going full-time (assuming I could double/triple my profit once I had 40+ hours a week do devote to it) 

 

I have so much I could say, but I will try to keep this brief. To make a long story short, I really want to give this thing a go in the next year, and know that you all have knowledge, experience, and information that would take me years to learn on my own.

 

So, here are some of the questions I feel you guys could really help me with (feel free to chime in with any other advice as well) 

 

1. Are my pieces good enough to go full-time (see some sample pictures below)? 

  

    I know it is very difficult to evaluate pieces without having them in your hand (fit, weight,etc). But, I would appreciate whatever honest feedback you feel you can give from a visual example alone. I have had positive feedback in general from customers, several gallery owners, and ceramics' professors. But, I want to know what you guys think. Keep in mind, I have only been doing it for a year and know I have decades ahead of me to really perfect my pieces. I do not feel I am the next Bernard Leach, I just know I greatly enjoy pottery and at this point couldn't see myself doing anything else for a living long-term. 

 

2. What advice do you have for tweaking my booth setup (included below)? 

 

The booth shot below is old, but it is still very similar to the setup I have used the last several shows. My dad and I made the shelving ourselves, out of reclaimed barnwood. I am planning on selling my pop-up canopy and investing in a new lightdome or trimline (Any advice here would be appreciated as well). Anyway, let me know what you guys think, especially in-light of my goal to break into some of the higher end shows this upcoming year. 

 

3. Are there any good shows you would recommend within 5 hours of the Cincinnati, OH area? 

 

4. Have any of you developed wholesale relationships with local farm-to-table restaurants/coffee shops/greenhouses (planters)? If so, how did you go about setting them up and have they been good experiences/profitable?

 

5. My wife and I are not big spenders. We love our food, that's really the only area where we spend a lot of money. We would be more than happy if the business could produce $36,000 year in net profit. What would I need to gross to do that and is that a doable benchmark once you are up and running full time?

 

6. What steps should I take to begin preparing for a possible full-time pottery? 

 

Thanks so much, I am sure this is more than enough to get the conversation started. I look forward to your input and counsel!

 

P.S. If you want any further images of my work to evaluate, I would be happy to send them over via email/pm (some of my professional shots were too big to upload)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First off, if anyone is *GASPETH*...OFFENDED...*faints* by the fact that your pottery is THAT FREAKING BEAUTIFUL after only two years of throwing (omg I hate you), then they need to get the stick out of their bum and get the eff off this forum. This place ain't around to cater to those elitist jerks.

 

So:

 

1. FREAKING HECK YES IT IS.

Good lord, dude. I can't make pretty things like that and I've been throwing for almost three times as long as you have! You're a natural! Man...I totally barf jealousy at you easy thrower types. Took me dang near two years to CENTER! :D Geez, that long-necked green pot... *whine*

 

2. Your setup is rad! Now, if it were mine, I might invest in maybe a couple wee tables with burned velvet runners, but I'm dramatic that way.

 

3. Lol, I'm sadly waaaaaay on the other side of the USA from you, lol... :)

 

4. I have put some yarn bowls into some local fiber art stores with some good results. I live in a rural area, so knitting and spinning is really common here. Basically just smile and bring in your bestest (hehe) work that you think might fit in best with the store you are at (like planters for flower shops, like you said). Don't forget to sand the bottoms a bit--everyone likes a smooth bottom. *snort*

 

5 + 6: This is tough. Basically, you gotta advertise the crap out of your work, and that takes money. You also gotta be sure to get into juried shows, because though I may not be totally right in this, I have sadly learned people don't wanna spend $30 on a heavily-toiled mug at farmers' markets. Getting into shows where people expect to spend a lot will "generally" be best. Be mindful of those booth fees, though. Some are a bit... *cough* ...yeah. But the earning potential can be huge. :)

 

I personally don't make half of $36k a year. I make around $9000-$10k a year, because I have no car and my area is the crappy for artists. I gotta drive with a friend around five hours for decent shows, but I hope you are a bit better off. If you are a massively fast potter (my stuff is all illustrated and I work like a snail), then I think you should totally go for it. None of us become ceramic awesome people to get rich, hehe! We do it for the love of mud. Having a full heart beats having a fat wallet.

 

I live off top ramen, rice, and an occasional trip to the local Chinese joint, but it beats office work!! :) Good luck!

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"Here are my goals for the next year:

1. Earn $10,000 net by end of August 2015

2. Further develop my voice: Specifically focusing on forms and glazing

3. Get out of the local craft fair scene and focus on bigger shows

4. Do all of this while continuing my full-time job (business writer) and without ruining my marriage. ;-)

 

My wife and I sat down last weekend and talked about the business. We decided together that if I could clear $10,000 in profit by the end of next August working very part time, we would consider taking the plunge and going full-time (assuming I could double/triple my profit once I had 40+ hours a week do devote to it)"

 

Setting your goals is the first step; of these, I would opine #2 and #4 (especially the part about ruining the marriage) are the most important. Your pottery and glazes are very nice. But, if you look around, they look like a lot of other potters work. Finding your "voice" on making those forms and colors truly yours is the most importing thing. And, in experimenting, you need to be able to ignore making money (you will end up with a fair amount of work where the idea does not pan out) and just focus on developing your line of work. After that, sales will come.

 

You may need to give yourself more than 10 months to accomplish these goals. So, don't let that be a constraint that hinders your development as a potter. Give yourself time. Seven years down the road, I'm still trying to figure this stuff out. Clay is not for those seeking instant gratification; you work on clay's time schedule, not your own.

 

Your local community may be your best customer. Good advice from an old time potter in Minnesota, Mel Jacobsen, is draw a 50 mile radius of where you live and that is your customer base. Build a customer network, build a mailing list, and most importantly, build good pottery with good prices and they will come. Building a customer base is a goal you might want to add.

 

Add to your list the following: contact the local community college or small business administration office and take a course (or find a mentor with SBA) who can help you develop a business plan and help you think out the business side of making and selling pottery. Also, reach out and find some full-time potters and get their advice and perspectives. Once you do that, you'll be in a better position to understand what it will take to succeed as a full-time potter.

 

Disclaimer: I am still a part-timer. I also came to clay late in life. So, I am not looking to make a living off my work.

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Welcome to the non-lurking side. Nice to have you here!

 

Your post is very thoughtfully organized and well-written, and that bodes well for what you're trying to do.

 

I agree with everything bciske said. Especially that you need to give yourself more time than next August to figure this out. Even if you can net $10K by then, that is not relevant for the long-term. It doesn't indicate whether you can sustain those sales, or sustain the physical grind of full-time pottery (both the pot-making and the shows). Plan to keep the other job for 5 to 10 more years. Possibly you can switch that to a part-time job, or a work-at-home job, along the way as part of a gradual shift.

 

I say 5 to 10 more years because your work is not "full-time living" quality yet. If you have been throwing for one year, it shows a great deal of natural ability and promise. But still it needs a lot more development. And I've seen those glazes all over the place.

 

Tweaking your booth setup: All I see is the light tablecloth in the middle. The dark pots on dark shelves disappear, especially because they are not facing the front of the booth. I would rearrange the layout so some of the shelving is facing the front of the booth. Make the table in the middle less prominent. You can have dark pots on dark shelves with proper lighting. You'll need lights for some of the better quality shows.

 

The Trimline is technically a better tent than the Light Dome, but only if you can handle the weight. The Light Dome requires much less effort. This is important if you're doing lots of shows. However, if you've grossed $3-$4K this year, and just bought a new kiln, this is not the right time drop $1000 on the tent. There are plenty of pop-ups at good-quality shows, make do until you can easily afford a nicer tent.

 

Apparently it's very trendy for restaurants to use tableware that looks rustic and handmade, but they have no interest in paying for handmade. We've had some discussions about this idea on this forum, it doesn't appear to be a viable idea.

 

$36K net per year is a doable benchmark, but again not until you've had 5 to 10 years more of development.

 

A pottery career is not a sprint. It's not even a marathon. It is an uphill hike that doesn't end. If you're in a hurry to get there, then it might not be the right choice for you.

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I appreciate all that you guys have said and the advice given. 

 

Glazing is one of my main weak areas. I also have seen many blues like what I use, which is not surprising, since it is basically a tweaked version of MC6's "Variegated Blue." I just have not had time to really begin experimenting. That's one of my main goals for next year. 

 

I realize it generally takes at least 5-10 years to get a full-time pottery started, and I am not disagreeing, I am considering that and thinking it through very carefully as I work through my goals. Maybe I need to re-evaluate. As far as the physical side is concerned, I have worked labor-intensive construction for the last 8 summers. I know pottery is a different kind of physical, but I am certainly not afraid of hard work. 

 

Thanks guys! Keep the good info coming. 

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First, another Welcome!

Wow, what a coincidence. About 10 months ago, with $700 and some equipment, I was in a position of just returning to pots after a couple years hiatus.

The others here have all offered the stuff I found most helpful this past year. All I can say is keep working on your stuff, it gets better all the time, no matter where you are in your progression. I can only offer moral support!

 

If you haven't stalked Mea's blog, you should. She knows her stuff, and has shared her professional journey generously.

 

Sorry if it's creepy Mea, but it's such an awesome resource:)

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You wrote "...at this point couldn't see myself doing anything else for a living long-term." So...what is there to discuss? What is there to decide?  Assuming that you have an internal "do not harm" boundary, so that there is no danger of secretly wiping out the kids' college fund or mortgaging the house without spousal consent or knowledge, seems to me you have your answer.

 

But then, I've never been all that big on seeking other people's advice for doing anything, tho I do solicit shoulders to cry on, the brutally honest sounding board, and the shared wisdom of respected "been there, done that" gurus or mentors. Waiting  (developing) for 5-10 years while things perk may be spot-on, but for me that might be a spirit-crusher, so, personally, I would just ignore that tid-bit and see how it goes!! 

 

Helpful for me was taking a heavy-duty look at what was deeply fear-based and sifting that out of the mix and dealing with it. The point being, if you find a road block, you do what is needed to move it out of the way, go over, around, under, or through...or turn back. New day, new opportunity to choose the next step or stay in place.  Love your pieces "as is", and they hit me as money-generating items, with effective marketing, but I am not trained as a critic nor have the education of a seasoned ceramist.    

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As far as the physical side is concerned, I have worked labor-intensive construction for the last 8 summers. I know pottery is a different kind of physical, but I am certainly not afraid of hard work.

This is another factor that bodes well for you.

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Geez, guys. My pottery isn't nearly as pretty as his and it's what I do for a living. Granted, my main selling point is illustration, but I don't understand why he isn't "good enough" to do this for a living. I think he is on a great track and he will find his voice with experience.

 

Crikey, I wonder how many of you think my work isn't "good enough" to put food on my table because my forms aren't "perfect." Geez...

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First of all, I never underestimate the power of passionate and driven people.  You, like many of us, have discovered a path that brings you joy and holds great potential as a life's work.  Here is my advice:

  • Network with other clay artists in your region.  Working on your own is great but as an entrepreneur-type it can be isolating.
  • It was nice to read your personal reflections of the work you have already done...you appear to growing from your own critiques.  Add other voices to that critique structure.  Seek out (much like you have done here) the criticism/review of your work by experienced clay people that you admire.
  • Practice. A lot.  Test yourself.  How long does it take to make 50 good soup bowls now?  Measure that against 50 better soup bowls in 6 months...you may find yourself disliking the previous work, just keep moving!
  • Find your voice in something that you truly love to make...something that separates you from other artists/potters, whether it is a form, a glaze style, a texture technique, a twist in firing options, a unique clay body, the use of terra sig, underglazes, china paints, lustres...whatever! Find it and own it!
  • I'm not a huge Miley Cyrus fan, but go read the lyrics to "The Climb"...The chorus goes something like this:"Ain't about how fast I get there, Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side, It's the climb". All to say, don't let artificial timelines and monetary measurements dominate your journey...certainly they are important, but it IS the journey you will remember the most.

Lest I sound any more like Yoda or a Greek oracle, I'll stop here.

Welcome to the forum. Don't be a stranger,

-Paul

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Paul, you sound just like Miley :P... Find it and own it- that is the best advice I have read... 

Well, @Crusty there is that Nashville influence I cannot avoid entirely...its probably in the drinking water ^_^

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Geez, guys. My pottery isn't nearly as pretty as his and it's what I do for a living. Granted, my main selling point is illustration, but I don't understand why he isn't "good enough" to do this for a living. I think he is on a great track and he will find his voice with experience.

 

Crikey, I wonder how many of you think my work isn't "good enough" to put food on my table because my forms aren't "perfect." Geez...

 

Guinea,

 

If you can live on $9 or $10k per year, that is terrific. Frugality and a low cost of living are great assets to have. However, the details of OP's situation are very different from yours. He is married and lives in a major city. He has already figured out he needs to earn $36k per year. Therefore the advice he is getting here does not apply to you. Don't take it personally!

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Well you are already a working potter selling pottery so I think a lot of what you are asking for is not really advice but rather validation. Whether your good enough to start selling does not really matter anymore and 8 months in is not really the time to be having these thoughts unless you are wanting to slow everything down and just want to hear that. Your post didn't really sound like you are burning out and people are buying your pottery but if you are having 2nd thoughts then yeah hold up and get your bearings before pushing ahead. You didn't take up a hobby, you opened a business and that means you are spending time and money on a business and really should get that part figured out before doing anything else or switch gears and just turn it back into a hobby with a review down the road.    

 

Based on these first 7-8 months you should have some general benchmarks to work from in projecting where you are going. Use this experience to forecast the next year, not a gut feeling or loose goal, but real numbers with reasonable assumptions going forward. Net income dollars are different in all the venues you listed so figure out the details and spreadsheet all of this at the very least. Surf on business plans and write one and learn how to plan what you want to happen and then how to review that each year with what did happen. Most of your questions beyond "am I good enough" will need to be answered by you with your unique experience and a business plan is the place to prepare to work out the answers to these questions. 

 

The right time to quit the day job will answer itself if you do this right and you may be working almost full time at potting while your still have the other full time gig as well. Don't spend the extra overlapping funds, bank them because when you do make the jump you will need them.  

 

Your assumption that once you blow the full time gig your revenue will double or triple is likely not based in any type of reality. It could happen but I doubt it will happen. More likely the business revenue will just have a better upward trend as the new time starts having an effect and that means you have to walk through it with financial worksheets and projections to know when the time is right t make the move and exactly WHAT you are going to be doing after you make this transition. If you are not making what you need monthly the day you quit then you will need to use savings to bridge the gap and you had better be doing a very good job with your projections if those savings are limited.

 

As an example, you indicated 36k net which works out to be $3000 a month over expenses. If you are netting $1500 a month when you quit your day job and you are projecting your net will grow to the needed $3000 once you are working full time (more work, more shows, more wholesale etc) and the ramp up from $1500 to $3000 is over a year that would work out to a large shortfall the first month and a zero shortfall the 12th month. Add up the monthly shortfalls and that is the cash you are projecting to lose while your new full time schedule gives your pottery business the extra production to reach the revenue you need. What if it takes 2 years to get all the way to a breakeven monthly revenue, can you handle that?  

 

Never look at a new business with any wishful thinking when it comes to revenue. Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

 

Good luck!   

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Well good to see you here sir, I actually talked to you, at your booth, at a fair in Oldham co. Kentucky. I was the dude with the baby, that talked to you about mudworks, so I have seen and held your pots.

 

You have a lot going for you, you have a passion for your work, your pots feel good in the hand, and you are not afraid to experiment and try new things. All that having been said I think that you just need to continue to refine and develop your style, yours is good but there is always room to further develop your aesthetic. Think about how you use your textures and glazes. Also continue to develop your your body of work, really define the shapes forms and products you want to create.

 

Keep up the hard work, meet your goals, consider all the advice that the great people here have offered, and weigh all your options. You make your success.

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I have a few comments, but keep in mind I am a newer potter. I have been making pots for 3 years, in between my 4 kids and the craziness that goes along with it.  When I first came here I have to say that even though I look back and think of how horribly naive I was and how my pots were, my response to my first posts felt discouraging. 

 

1- I think most potters make "common work" as a way to establish throwing skills and glaze consistency in the beginning of learning.  It's not a bad thing, it's a step in the process.  I think your work has some voice .. especially for having just started.  I have just recently been finding my voice as a potter.  Not completely, but I know I am headed in the direction that is "me".  If I didn't make common wares earlier, i wouldn't have the skill to make things that fit my voice.  I plan to get better, and make more and more unique work. But it's a learning process. SO I think you are in a wonderful place. 

 

2- Sometimes advice here can seem more like a scare tactic.... especially in the beginning. It might be for some. But I do know this, there are many people on these forums that ARE successful potters and it is their sole income.  I have always been the type to climb my way to the top. So knowing I might have to become one of the 5% that make money in clay work (made up that percentage) is empowering to accept the challenge.  

 

3-  Hours hours hours! If I didn't constantly clean the crap my kids are leaving around, or having to spend entire weeks deep cleaning and days folding mountains of laundry I know i would be a better potter. Some are not successful for years due to the time invested (or lack).  (that's just my opinion)  Passion and purpose are key factors here. Treat it like a business and it will become a business.  I need to take my own advice here. The key is, don't allow someone to give you a timeline. Records are broken every day.  

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I think Rebekah makes a great point about hours. I think using hours over years when talking about building your skills as a potter makes a lot of sense because intense hours of practice really does make so much difference. 

 

It seems to me that averaging much more than 10-12 hours a week in your home studio on a continuous basis is a lot for someone juggling relationships, a household, a full time job and all the background getting to and from hoopla of life. Sure there is the occasional 20-25 hour weekend stint but there is also the 3 weeks that go by when you can't get into the studio because life gets in the way. If I'm right then 5-600 hours a year is about what a serious non-pro potter with a home studio would spend on pottery and that's 5-600 hours really spread around with a lot of starting and stopping. If you're using an outside studio it's probably more like twice a week for several hours and that would be more like 300 hours a year of work.  

 

On the other hand I think most full time working potters put in north of 50 hours a week and likely close to 4,000 hours in a year. That means it could take 6-8 years as a serious side artist to hit the hours that a pro puts in one year and probably much more to match the benefit the pro gets from 4000 intense hours.  

 

Whitney Smith ( an Oakland, Ca potter who writes a great blog by the way and talks a lot about the business side of pottery in her blog post ) advises folks to not go pro while their pots are still getting dramatically better from one month to the next. I always thought that was really spot on advice.

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The forums here at Ceramic Arts Daily have been a huge help as I try to navigate the intricacies, complexities, joys, and frustrations of running my own pottery business. I figured it was time to actually get acquainted with some of you and begin developing relationships that I feel could really aid me in my pursuit of doing this pottery thing full time.

 

Here's the scoop. I have only thrown/turned pottery for just a little over a year now (see some images of my work below), and would love to go full-time in the next year or two. I realize to some of you, the previous sentence may border on the offensive. I know it takes decades to truly excel at pottery and I have a long way to go. But, when I have had extended time in my studio, I have seen the quality of my pieces grow in leaps and bounds compared to periods when I only had several hours a week to give. In general, I am happy with my pots, but not content. I am consistently working on my lines, weight, function, and originality. I have so many ideas . . . 

 

Here's a little background on my business: 

 

1. Officially started in April (Running as Sole Proprietor)

2. Have been selling on Etsy, at some local craft shows, and out of my little shop

3. Put in $500 in seed money in a business account and resolved not to take any more of my personal money to fund the business

4.  My business account has paid for my startup/continuing costs and I have earned close to $3000-$4000 or so working very part time since starting in April (Graduated in May, married in June, so my time has been limited) 

5. My pieces are in several galleries in the Indiana/Ohio/KY area 

6. Just purchased a bigger kiln so I could begin ramping up production 

 

Here are my goals for the next year:

1. Earn $10,000 net by end of August 2015 

2. Further develop my voice: Specifically focusing on forms and glazing

3. Get out of the local craft fair scene and focus on bigger shows

4. Do all of this while continuing my full-time job (business writer) and without ruining my marriage. ;-) 

 

My wife and I sat down last weekend and talked about the business. We decided together that if I could clear $10,000 in profit by the end of next August working very part time, we would consider taking the plunge and going full-time (assuming I could double/triple my profit once I had 40+ hours a week do devote to it) 

 

I have so much I could say, but I will try to keep this brief. To make a long story short, I really want to give this thing a go in the next year, and know that you all have knowledge, experience, and information that would take me years to learn on my own.

 

So, here are some of the questions I feel you guys could really help me with (feel free to chime in with any other advice as well) 

 

1. Are my pieces good enough to go full-time (see some sample pictures below)? 

 

 

(You already hit the nail on the head -work on forms and glazing-this process takes LOTS of time so its good you love clay.

Start to develope a line of forms which you work on only to discipline yourself-stay within this line inproving these forms.

Glazing well thats another story-it all takes time and becuase you love clay this will not feel like work.

There is NO shortcut to save you years of to learn on your own-really it just takes yaers on on your own to refine this things.

I have 4 decades in to being a full time potter and i'm always refining processes still.)

  

    I know it is very difficult to evaluate pieces without having them in your hand (fit, weight,etc). But, I would appreciate whatever honest feedback you feel you can give from a visual example alone. I have had positive feedback in general from customers, several gallery owners, and ceramics' professors. But, I want to know what you guys think. Keep in mind, I have only been doing it for a year and know I have decades ahead of me to really perfect my pieces. I do not feel I am the next Bernard Leach, I just know I greatly enjoy pottery and at this point couldn't see myself doing anything else for a living long-term. 

 

2. What advice do you have for tweaking my booth setup (included below)?

 

(I would use your pop up for some more years and work on other item like your display.

The old barnwood is what I used 40+ years ago when I started out. I would work on a better display for better results.

Take it slow. The display you show does not use your 10x 10 space well. Look at other potters setups

all this takes some time-so go slow.)

 

 

The booth shot below is old, but it is still very similar to the setup I have used the last several shows. My dad and I made the shelving ourselves, out of reclaimed barnwood. I am planning on selling my pop-up canopy and investing in a new lightdome or trimline (Any advice here would be appreciated as well). Anyway, let me know what you guys think, especially in-light of my goal to break into some of the higher end shows this upcoming year. 

 

3. Are there any good shows you would recommend within 5 hours of the Cincinnati, OH area? 

 

(I cannot help you here as I live on another planet.)

 

4. Have any of you developed wholesale relationships with local farm-to-table restaurants/coffee shops/greenhouses (planters)? If so, how did you go about setting them up and have they been good experiences/profitable?

 

(This love of food you have and clay may later work but as noted by others restaurants usually do not want to pay for handmade wares-I suggest tabling this until later while you work on forms and glazing your line of work.)

 

5. My wife and I are not big spenders. We love our food, that's really the only area where we spend a lot of money. We would be more than happy if the business could produce $36,000 year in net profit. What would I need to gross to do that and is that a doable benchmark once you are up and running full time?

 

(Not sure if this has an answer as pottery is labor intensive-if you are thinking an hourly wage at this point I would not think that way.

Met profit is after expenses so plan on making a lot of Pottery-since there are so may variables-like clay-material costs gas or electric costs-show fees and travel you will find just to track this takes tons of time. I started without thinking about any of that and made it work. If I had thought about that at first I'd have done somethiong easy with my life like chain gang work or digging graves.)

 

6. What steps should I take to begin preparing for a possible full-time pottery?

 

(If clay is your passion go for it no matter what anyone says if your are on the fence take it slow and see if its for you.

If its only a job do someting easier like I mentioned above like moving around large rocks by hand to erect stone walls (stine mason old school way)

If clay is your thing the pieces will come together the more you work at its.

Work on forms and glazing of your line of work-this is the key element to make the rest work.

I could add more but my busy season is NOW and I have to get back to work.)

 

Thanks so much, I am sure this is more than enough to get the conversation started. I look forward to your input and counsel!

 

P.S. If you want any further images of my work to evaluate, I would be happy to send them over via email/pm (some of my professional shots were too big to upload)

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Hi, Jason, welcome to the club!

I like your combined forms, they look bold and inventive to me.

I won't add to all the good advice on income projections and business plans, since that is not my strong suit, but I will say about your booth set-up, quoting the last words of William James, "More light!" You will need a good light set-up, definitely, and I would advise you to, whenever possible, lose the side walls of your booth. When someone at another booth looks toward yours, they should not see a blank wall, they should see enticing pots!

You've got a great way of writing - I feel like I already know you somewhat, by your thoughtful and thorough presentation, and I'm looking forward to learning more. Best of luck!

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I started pottery 4 years ago (October 1st 2010) and from my experience, pottery is a pretty good business.    Can you make $36K a year?   From my experience, yes.   And more.  Seems you already have the technical down.   But for the business .... it will take some trial and error to get the distribution down.

 

So .... you want to net $36K a year?    You need to calculate your COGS. (glaze/clay/electric/elements).   I base my business using 25% COGS.    I'm going to throw out  a 25% retail cost (note this could be 50%, traditional retail markup).     Based on this ... you would need to output about $72K of product a year to net $36.    So back track your production.   $72k/12months  ..... you need to produce about $6K of pottery each month.    I put out about $8k a month .... $400/day (but I don't glaze .. I pay an employee to glaze, which accounts for 14% of product retail cost)

 

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Some people may come back and say that you need more that $72K, based on 50% markup needed for retail.   Also, with more expensive work COGS could run lower than 25%.   I add an extra 5% to that number to cover elements.

 

I've seen people advise to have everything paid for before you quit your job .... I think that's good advise.

 

Also, I have another business combined with the pottery.  Jewelry.   Some of the jewelry is made with clay findings.   Right now, I have some really good selling jewelry made with import findings.   I also import some ready made jewelry.   Together this has proved to be a somewhat profitable business.     I do 2 shows a years (Canton Ms Flea Market) and  have retail at the studio (in 3 small structures in front of the studio ... look on my website to see the set up)>

The pottery is definitely profitable.   I like making pottery pretty well ... but not well enough to do it and live at welfare standards.   This is my 3rd year in this location and I'm quite pleased with the profitability of the business.   I'm quite impressed with the ROI on this business as compared to other businesses I've owned.

 

Keep in mind ... I don't really think of myself as a potter ... I'm a business owner.   Feel free to ask me any questions.   Sharon@dirtroadspottery.com  Business phone:  601-298-2000.

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