I hope this post finds you and your family happy and healthy at home.
We're living in a strange time.
I find myself enjoying my time at home while also caught in the staggering reality of why I'm home to begin with. I'm thinking of each and everyone of you and your families.
Here in Greensboro, North Carolina we began our Stay-at-Home order yesterday evening. In an abundance of caution, for weeks now Kim and I have only traveled to our private studio and back home.
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.
Let's talk about the new Pre-Order Shop here on the site. Ever want something that's sold out? That can be such a frustrating experience. Our old process was to encourage you to wait for the product to come back in stock. That was also pretty frustrating. Then comes the waiting.. and the waiting.. and maybe that thing you loved never comes back.
Keeping up with demand is one of the biggest problems we've had over the years in this handmade ceramic business. Yes, it's a good problem to have in theory... but we're also a very customer centered business prioritizing your satisfaction and support above all, so this "good problem" never sat well with us. Here's something actually good-- a solution.
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
Sometimes inspiration strikes and it doesn't totally align with our mantra of "Making Mealtimes Beautiful" and that's okay. Usually this comes in the form of my painting practice at home, an avenue of creative expression that I don't bring into the commercial side of Suite One Studio (well yet anyways!).
Right now I'm utterly fixated on making porcelain tiles to create a faux-wall to live behind my pottery wheel now that I've moved that into the commercial studio and out of my garage where it's been living.
Why a tile wall? There's the practical side that it'll be very easy to sponge away clay splatter messes while keeping the walls in the studio that we painstakingly painted a year ago looking fresh and new. And then there's the answer that basically any Millennial-run business probably considers: It'll look super good on instagram.
Not to mention I'm really enjoying the process of making the tiles and my little throwing corner needs some personality! By making the wall on removable panels it becomes movable and impermanent, which factored into the thinness of the tiles. If I ever make tiles for a permanent wall I'll make them thicker and heavier. (Just putting that out there if anyone wants to explore that project together in the future! I'm game!)
On instagram I've been sharing process photos from this project including this one above of those same glazed tiles before they were glazed, right after unloading them from a bisque firing.
Originally I planned to glaze the tiles all the same color, but while in the middle of glazing I felt inspired to mix it up a little by playing with my rose and white glaze. As more tiles come out of production I'm excited to rearrange them until I get the layout just right. I'll share the project as it unfolds right here on the blog and on instagram-- which if you're not already following I'd love to have you join me there! I share daily in my stories and feed, and you can catch all kinds of behind the scenes happenings!