I didn't know what I was doing when I started my business. I've learned SO much over the past decade. A major thing I've learned is that it helps no one when you pretend to have all of the answers. I've never been a professional marketer, redirected a struggling business, worked at Google, Apple, or walked away from a career that looked right but felt wrong. But you know who has? The authors I turned to when I knew my business needed a thoughtful overhaul.
Selling online as an artist didn't come easily for me. In 2009 when I started my business it was little more than a way to make some extra cash to pay for more clay so I could keep my hobby going. I was still a college student working multiple jobs and attending part-time classes watching as all of my peers began to graduate. I felt left behind, directionless, and broke. On Facebook I'd seen a college friend mention she was beginning to sell on Etsy, and not knowing what it was about I looked into it. That same afternoon I opened my Etsy shop.
I had plenty of pottery sitting around that I could sell... in theory. But I didn't know how to sell online, or how to take a halfway decent product photo, or how to write about my work objectively in a compelling way. I didn't let any of that stop me. I learned every single thing the hard way through sheer determination.
Early on I met fellow just-getting-started artist, Allie Dattilio. We met through Etsy and began exchanging emails. We shared the highs and lows, and encouraged each other over the years as our online art businesses grew.
We didn't set out to start a business together. That happened very organically. We recognized a need for a community for artists selling online that not only offered support, troubleshooting, and feedback but one that also got right into the nitty gritty of being a successful online entrepreneur.
Running a growing art business isn't only about the feel-good creative side of things. There are important business tasks too like bookkeeping, taxes, diversifying revenue streams, and understanding business acronyms like ROI, SEO, and TOM and how they relate to your business. Considering we'd both created thriving online businesses as artists we decided to create that community ourselves: The Studio Source.
This upcoming week on Thursday, 1/17 we're opening The Membership for a limited time (only until 1/22) and we'd love to have you join us! All the details about The Membership are here. Be sure to join The Waitlist for an email notification right when The Membership opens!
photo credit: Jacob Buwalda
Omg guys, this announcement has been giving me butterflies! Today's the day to finally share the news, I've partnered with my friend and incredible painter, Allie Dattilio to create a community for artists selling online called, The Studio Source. This project has been a longtime coming. Allie and I met seven-ish years ago online (Twitter? Etsy? Not sure. The internet was smaller and we somehow found each other.) We immediately began sharing emails and Etsy convos about our experiences as new artists on the scene. We didn't realize then exactly what those conversations could become, but we kept up those meaningful exchanges over the years.
Periodically we'd check in with each other; reaching out to troubleshoot, cheering each other on through the hurdles, celebrating those big business moments, and even collaborating on #TheChiaroscuroCollection back in 2017. Fast forward to today and we've collaborated once again to launch The Studio Source! This group is starting over on Facebook and is designed for artists in any medium selling their work online-- or if you're not quite at the selling online part as long as that's an active goal for you, this group is made for you.
One of my favorite things about The Studio Source right here on day one is how organically Allie and I arrived at this idea. We've been big fans of each other's work over the years and it's been amazing to witness the growth of another artist from those very early days until now. Over the last several months Allie and I both independently began talking on instagram (I'm over @suiteonestudio and Allie is @alliedattilio) with our fans about creating some sort of workshop or learning course to share what we've learned and to learn from other artists out there in the big, vast internet. That's the thing when you own your own creative business, you know in theory others are having these same challenges and celebrations, but it can be hard to really tap into that sense of community; most of us work alone or in tiny studio teams!
The lightbulbs flashed. It was serendipity! At the same moment in time we were ready to venture into teaching and creating a community for artists selling online.
Side note: out of curiosity I just dug through my email archives and found our first detailed exchange from 2011 right after Allie had her first sale on Etsy! I was still baby Etsy seller myself, not quite two years into the online selling game. In that email we chatted about the importance of blogging (I lamented that I was too infrequent-- I've gotten better but still working on that one, lol), why it's important to connect to other artists within the community for support, and how we price our work. Wow. So much has changed since then, yet we still have these same conversations... just a little more evolved to the stage our businesses are in now.
Our goal is that The Studio Source will become the online community we wish we'd had back when we first started, and the network of encouragers we still need today.
If you're an artist selling online and you're looking to connect with others on this same wild, wonderful ride then The Studio Source is for you. There's a brief questionnaire that'll help us provide meaningful framework for discussions within the group. We hope you'll join us!
There's been a lot of talk in the ceramics community lately about learning opportunities. Many of us turn to social media to connect with others in our industry and we glean bits of knowledge through watching each other work. I've used instagram stories a lot this summer to take my followers behind the scenes covering everything from kiln unloading, to wheel throwing, to the books I'm reading to deepen my understanding of glaze chemistry. In response you guys have sent me thoughtful questions and many people have asked about workshops. Before I run an official workshop and charge an attendance fee, I thought it could be a really unique learning opportunity if I offered a free open studio workshop.
My goal with this event is that we can learn from each other! It'll be less structured than future events and I'll be looking to this group's attendees to directly shape the material we cover. I hope that lasting connections will be made amongst those attending, and that we can openly learn from each other.
Into it? The event is happening on Saturday, 8/18-- soon I know! This is the link, and even though it's a free event registration is required. There are only 12 spots, many of which are already claimed. If you're a ceramic artist in the NC region and want to spend a day hanging out in my studio learning together, we'd love to have you!
There will be future events happening and of course I'd love your input for those as well. Reply here or send me a message on instagram about what you'd like to learn in the future!
Click here for tickets!
I love a good ceramic glaze. Glossy, colorful, painterly glazes are what Suite One Studio is known for and I receive messages about my glazes almost daily! I don't share my formulas directly because I think the hunt for a good glaze is a huge part of the process, and I'm not ever going to suggest you skip the hard stuff by handing out the answers. The hard stuff is where the learning happens and that's how you develop real skills.
So nope, I'm not sharing my glazes here. But I am sharing my favorite resources for learning about glazes, some of the best places on the internet to track down formulas you can try, and my favorite tools to get the job done right-- and by that I mean practicing dust safety and making informed decisions about which materials to do a little extra research about before you bring them into your studio. -- Did you know lead was regularly used in glazes many decades ago? There are some other materials out there that you probably want to avoid and you'll learn all about them through the resources below. Ready the jump in? Click below!