Candid conversations with ceramicists and makers, about what it’s really like to make a living from the things you make, plus occasional business tips on how to make your side-hustle into a life-giving business.
Episode 415: How Clay can Hold Ideas with Kristina Batiste
Sometimes, making art can feel less important as we scroll through the news and battle with all that’s happening in the world. How can the things we make battle racism? How can a pot positively influence the needs of climate change? It sounds a little silly. Until we realize that culture is what changes the world. And art is uniquely linked to affecting culture and thus, change. Today’s guest, Kristina Batiste, creates minimalist ceramics that hold these huge subjects within their beauty and reminds me that the things we make can bring about the change we dream of.
Doors to the Maker's Photography Styling System are once again open! But only for the next week. If taking better photos faster sounds like a dream, come learn how together we can make it a reality by clicking here: makersplaybook.com/mpss
There are few things in life I find more encouraging than finding colleagues who understand your life. With all do respect to our supportive loved ones, there’s just something different about the depth of conversation you can have with another person who understands how heartbreaking it can be when you bump that perfectly trimmed bowl you’ve been working on for days off the shelf or how thrilling it can be to sell your first pot. Only the people doing these same things really feel the same depth of those feelings with us. And if it wasn’t obvious from Part One of my chat with Lisa & David of Dault Pottery, when I get a chance to connect with others who are building their life in ways similar to my own, I’ll chat for hours. So we’re back for Part Two, which really only ended because the kiddos made us!
Episode 412: Ruthlessly Eliminating Hurry with The Daults
When I hear people talk about boundaries and cutting back on work hours and all of that beautiful sounding work/life balance stuff, I assume the person preaching this has already reached a certain point of success. I think to myself, “Well, of course you can cut back on your work hours now. You already have -insert whatever- going for you, so it's safe to slow down." But what if the very reason for launching your small business in the first place was in service of building an un-hurried lifestyle? I've said many, many times that we must choose our lives first and build our businesses around them, second, but I didn't figure that out until I messed up the order with my first business. On this episode of the Maker's Playbook, Lisa & David Dault share how they are ruthlessly eliminating hurry from their freshly full-time pottery business right from the very beginning.
Episode 411: In-Person Markets as Customer Research with Yvonne Rausch
A lot of the time, we think about the benefits of in-person markets solely related to the sales we do on the specific day(s) of the market. But what if you thought a little bit more strategically? This week’s guest shares how she’s approaching selling at markets as a means of direct market research for who her ideal customer just might be… or not be.
In this 3rd installment of "The Launch" series, I'm comparing the dynamics between small markets and multi-day art fairs, shedding light on the energy and small bit of acting skills needed for face-to-face sales. As made clear by so many past interviews here on the podcast, there is a huge value to the direct conversations we can have at markets for understanding our potential customers' interests, but the thing that might come as a massive surprise to everyone is in this episode, I'm challenging the concept of the "ideal customer" and what that really means for building a small business.
Episode 409: Battling Scarcity with Tzipporah Schvarcz
Most of the time, when I talk with other makers about taking the leap to go full-time, we talk about the logistical things - having a bit of savings put away in case of emergency, understanding your numbers to make sure the pricing can support your necessities, getting an email list going in order to have ownership over your audience, etc. etc. etc. And while these things are indeed important, the unsung workhorse of being able to make a living from the things you make - the thing that often is the difference between keeping a business afloat or not, the thing that carries most of us through the uncertainty isn’t a spreadsheet or new planning journal. It’s our mindset.
Battling the ups and downs of all that’s happening in our heads, particularly when it comes to feelings of scarcity - that - spoiler alert - social media is essentially built to enhance - is actually what Tzipporah and I wind up talking about amidst sharing the realities of her life as a mom of 4 with a self-employed husband as well!
Episode 408: The 4-Day Work Week with Julie Cloutier
A 4 day work week… it’s the thing of dreams. And, according to many many studies I’ve read about in many books, actually highly linked to better productivity and all sorts of other very business-savvy things that only a fool would say no to. But in all of those books I’ve read, the examples have been from companies that had teams. So it was very easy to tell myself excuse after excuse of why it could clearly work for a team, but not work so well for us solo-preneurs, or itty bitty businesses trying to do the work of 10 people while only being one person . That is, until I saw a post by Julie Cloutier on Instagram, where she was celebrating her one year anniversary of a 4 day work week...
Episode 407: The Launch - Reflecting on Our First Market
Episode 2 of the special The Launch series! This week I reflect on our first in-person market experience - just 6 short days after it happened. So yes, I'm still tired. :) We also have some insightful questions from our Community members as our framework for this review on the highs and lows of our first market.
Episode 406: Introducing The Launch (a real-time series on starting our ceramics business)
Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall while someone else starts a ceramics business? From the very beginning? Well, you’re in luck! In this new series - The Launch - I’m sharing (in as real-time as I can) the reality of what it’s like for Francesco and I to start our pottery business, Carra Terra. First up, what the last 2 years of twists and turns, starts and pauses, has been like and how that’s brought us to this summer of going all in on in-person markets. Spoiler: This episode airs one week before our very first in-person market. I’m guessing you’ll be able to hear the nerves through your headphones.
Episode 405: The Efficiency of Commissions with Micah Schedler
Commissions… I feel like it’s a four-letter word when I talk to some potters. You see them physically tense up and take a deep breath ready to do battle with a fire breathing dragon. And I’ve always been a little bit confused by this because I kind of like them. Just add it to the list of the ways that it makes me a bit of a black sheep in the art world. You can slot it right next to my love of systems and routine and willingness to talk about marketing and sales. But I digress… When I sat down with Micah Schedler I thought we’d mostly chat about how he’s balancing working as a health professional in nursing as well as having 2 little kids and launching a brand new website - I didn’t know we’d share a joy of the efficiency of commissions and that’s actually where he hopes to focus most of his business. But hang with us here. If you are already rolling your eyes, thinking “No way, Rebecca. I tried it once and it was a mess. I’ll never do a commission again.” Before you click the next button, just give us maybe 10 minutes to see if Micah’s controlled approach to how he makes commissions work best for him - amidst the sleep deprivation of toddlers and working another job - might help you re-think this often annoying request…
Episode 404: Using Your Background knowledge with Larissa Warren of Rat Bag Studios
Do you feel like the time you spent in a previous career (or a current one) is just pulling you away from moving forward in clay? But have you ever considered that the “background knowledge” you have gained from other life experiences is actually part of creating your unique voice and style as an artist? In this week’s episode, Larissa Warren of Rat Bag Studios and I discuss how her previous career as a teacher directly influences her current work, how the connections and background knowledge she gained while in that career directly support her recent jump into being a full-time studio potter and how the literal background knowledge of the medium you are working in is crucial to actually making the work. While so many of us scour the internet for quick and easy answers to what another artist uses for clay or glaze, what material do they make those stencils out of and how do you (insert whatever unique style skill here)... Larissa points out that maybe the key to figuring out all of those questions is actually found within the trial & error that comes with gaining the background knowledge of the process in the first place.
Episode 403: Being a Part of a Lineage with Gloria Han
My chat this week with Gloria Han opens up so many bit and important conversations (spoiler: this means, there’s going to be a part two!). From getting into education because of a passion for teaching (rather than it being the automatic route after graduate school as it is for so many), to balancing contemporary work with traditional making practices, and encouraging new artists to consider the wisdom of generations of knowledge before defaulting to the overused excuse of there being “no wrong way to make something.” Gloria’s teaching practice and her making practice are intrinsically linked - one informing the other and also each allowing the space for the other passion to be nurtured without the push of capitalism to make work that’s easy to sell.
When I sat down with Paul Blais of the Potter's Cast and a packed room of fellow makers at NCECA, we hit upon a lot of business subjects. Frankly, just one of the questions he threw my way could have been its own entire episode. So today I’m expanding on a few of those subjects in this solo episode. If there are still questions you had from that chat, send me over an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll queue up another follow-up episode as well! Because if there was one way to sum it alllllll up, it’s that just about every decision when it comes to your own business - whether a side-hustle on the nights and weekends or a full-time gig - nearly every decision you are going to have to make is interconnected to every other decision.
When I say “making a living” what do you think I mean? Do you immediately think of income and how much money you make? Or do you think of how you spend your time? Do you think of the balance between working hours and leisure hours? I don’t think there is one particularly correct answer, but on this episode of The Maker’s Playbook, our guest, Danny Meisinger does put this phrase into some very helpful perspective for those of us trying to figure out the financial side alongside the dream life of being a full-time potter in the 21st century. If you are dreaming that same dream, or even just curious about what it’s actually like to make a living from what you make, this episode is for you.
Episode 335: Live at NCECA - The Business of Clay with The Potter's Cast
LIVE from NCECA! Our recording of the joint (but mostly Paul interviewing me) episode with the Potter’s Cast is here! We touched the surface on a lot of business topics in this one hour. Anything from the importance of finding your own work before market research, how business is mostly just the scientific process on repeat, and a lot lot more, including direct questions from the live audience that was sitting in front of us the whole time. The room was absolutely packed and frankly, I was a bit stunned. Any one of the questions Paul asked me could be their entire own episode by themselves, so if there is a subject you were wishing we had time to dive deeper on, send me and email and let me know! I’m working on trying to compile more of my post-NCECA thoughts for future episodes and I’d love to know what you are most interested in. Send over your ideas to: email@example.com
Episode 334: Creating out of Chaos with Kim Ferguson of Khaos Creates
How often do you remember the name of someone’s Instagram account before you actually learn their real name? It’s a little weird. But it can also be freeing for some people, because it means you can choose how much of yourself you want to share. You can create an alter-ego of sorts. Not to mention, how building a brand name can help you create space between the public and the private. This, of course, also means what we all experience as users online is not always the full story of what is happening in real life for any maker we might follow, which is the big question I’ve had for Kim Ferguson of Khaos Creates for a long time.Understanding what life actually looks like is exactly why I started this very podcast, so, of course, I’m excited for you to hear Kim’s story this week where we shed a bit of light on the difference between the instagrammable Khaos Creates and the lovely human that is Kim.
Episode 333: Part Two with Sarah Hussaini of Not Work Related
If there was a store that was only open for 60 minutes out of the year, would you go to it? Do you think it would even stay in business? Here’s the spoiler: I’m not talking hypothetically. Because, when you do the math, 60 minutes, is about how long there is work available to purchase from Not Work Related’s website over the course of 1 year. Sarah’s incredible design heavy work sells out in less than 10 minutes. And the time intensive nature of her designs mean she and the Not Work Related’s team only do 6 stock drops on her website per year. If this intro hasn’t hooked you in just yet to sticking with us for part two of my conversation with Sarah Hussaini of Not Work Related, let me just say this: The point of sharing this, and so many other stories here on the Maker’s Playbook podcast is to show you - There is no single right or wrong way to make this crazy dream work.
Episode 332: Building a Viable Business in NYC with Sarah Hussaini of Not Work Related
Building a business as an independent maker can be hard. And when you add on top of that the financial realities of doing it in an urban center… well, it takes a special level of drive, determination, work ethic, and grit to make that happen. All of which, I can safely say Sarah Hussaini undoubtedly has. Sarah, owner of the Not Work Related studio, and I connect on a lot business topics. So many, that I couldn’t contain all of the nuggets of hard-earned knowledge in one episode. That’s right my friends, settle in because this is only part ONE of my chat with Sarah. Next week, we’ll be coming back for part 2.
**A heads up: This episode does contain a bit of adult language.
Episode 331: Changing with the Times with Katherine Mahoney
One of the most surprising things for many makers pursuing self-employment is that the brainstorming, troubleshooting, and all-around scientific method of experimenting, testing, observing, and pivoting never really ends (unfortunately or fortunately, depending on the day). The strategy you had for selling your pots 10 years ago might not work today, and it can feel like you are back at the drawing board, practically starting from scratch all over again. What you decide today, well in 3 years or maybe even 1 year, you might have to change again… But before you get to feeling too hopeless, know that it is possible to grow and shift with the times. Because Katherine Mahoney has been doing just that, across 3 different countries, for the past 40 years.
Episode 330: Working with Galleries with Sarah Chenoweth Davis
What if there was a way to grow your audience or broaden your reach without hustling on social media? What if you could focus on fostering a handful of really close relationships with people who understood and appreciated your work, and then in turn, spent their own time working to promote that work and get it out to a curated audience of people interested in possibly purchasing that work? Does it sound too good to be true? Well, this week on the podcast, we talk about a possible business model that can do just these things. But it also gets talked down upon a lot in the industry because of what you might have to give up in order to enjoy it…
Episode 329: Trusting the Process with Virgil Ortiz
My chat this week with Virgil Ortiz is packed with insights. From pragmatic business advice, like protecting your intellectual property, to the less tangible topics of manifestation and trusting that things have a way of working out. The history of clay for the Cochiti people and how Virgil’s work, truly almost accidentally and yet oh so beautifully connects generations of storytellers is nothing less than astonishing.
Episode 328: Intentional Practice with Yair Abraham
“There’s only so much people can show you until you actually go and do it and fail and practice and practice until you get it….” This week on the podcast, I virtually sit down with Yairs Abraham who started his self-taught pottery journey in Buenos Aires, then moved to New Zealand and now is potting away in his home studio in what spare time a baby and full-time job allows. But here’s the catch… he prefers it that way. And if his fantastically designed website is any indication, he’s definitely found the right solution for himself!
Episode 327: “Blooming late,” Academia, & Imposter Syndrome with Page Kelly
This week, my conversation with Page Kelly of Zephyr Valley Ceramics twists and turns, much like her career paths. A self-proclaimed “late bloomer,” there is this stunning moment in this conversation at about the 46-ish minute marker when Page discusses the narrative body of work she is currently producing, where I hear literally every experience she has had in the last 2 decades - inside and outside of working in clay - come together. It’s an encouraging moment, especially for those of us that feel like we are getting started in this beautiful journey a bit… well, later than others. Note: There is a tiny bit of adult language in the latter half of this episode, so if you are listening around kiddos are in a community setting, you might want to choose to pop on some headphones.
Episode 326: The Business of Pottery with Rebecca Graves-Prowse
For all of you out there who have been listening to the podcast and thinking, “It’s too late for me to make a career move… I’m too far into this corporate job with the 401ks and the healthcare and all the stuff…” Well, this episode, my friends, is for you. Rebecca of GravesCo sheds light on the decades of experience she had before she “magically”created an “overnight success.” We also nerd out a bit on the way spreadsheets allow us to make creative decisions and I for one, am not so subtly vying for a spot as a new biz-bestie with the powerhouse woman. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to go from a solo maker to the leader of a team, you aren’t going to want to miss this episode.
Ceramics is not exactly an easily mobile art form. And depending on what you are making, it can take up a fair bit of space. So what the heck do you do when you move to New York City, but you know you are only going to be there for 2-4 years? And yet, you are fresh in the beginning stages of getting your business off the ground? Well, that’s exactly what Alex Olson is working on figuring out and this week we’re talking all about it, along with the reality of trying to build new healthy routines - both physically to ensure the longevity of working in clay, and mentally, when leaving in as busy of a place as NYC - that keep us inspired for the long game of making a living from the things we make.
Episode 324: Building Ceramicon with Elisabeth Young
In order to have kept my small business afloat for the last 12+ years, I had to learn a LOT of other skills that have absolutely nothing to do with crafting a photo. In fact, as you’ve heard from many past guests here on the podcast, once you go full-time with your craft, more often than not, you aren’t spending 100% of your time IN that craft. Instead, there’s admin and website updates and taxes and paperwork and customer service and…. Well, the list goes on, but I think you get the idea. To make a living from the things we make, there are a lot of skills required. This week on the podcast, I’m chatting with the creator of Ceramicon. Elisabeth Young’s dream for Ceramicon is to offer an accessible way for people to learn multiple pottery techniques and business strategies from the artists they love and I’ll be joining the 17 other makers and small business owners, sharing some of our hard earned lessons in the pursuit of making a living from the things we make.
Episode 323: Living, Learning and Making Abroad with Ido Ferber
How often do you find yourself listening to another maker or hearing about another artist’s story to get to where they are now and saying, “Well that worked for them but I…” But I’m not in my 20s. But I’m married. But I have a dog, but I… It can be really easy for any of us (myself included) to come up with all the reasons we can not do something. Until, you hear about someone who, even with all of those things, is doing the thing. This week on the podcast I’m chatting with Ido Ferber who has picked up and moved to Tokyo in order to studio ceramics. No, not directly from undergrad. And no, not even by himself. Ido and his wife, who is a maker in who own right, have both moved abroad to figure out how to make a living from the things they make.
Episode 322: Are You Spamming Your Email List? with Rebecca Ickes Carra
The irony of publishing this episode on Black Friday isn't lost on me. But here's the thing: Your emails are NOT the same as the big box stores. At least, not if you are actually (regularly) engaging with the people who have trusted you enough to give you their email address...
The true irony is that oftentimes, thanks to our nerves around feeling like we might be spamming people, we wind up only emailing them when we have a shop update or an announcement about a market or show. But what feels more spammy? Only hearing from someone when they want you to buy something or consistently learning more about an artistic process and the artist behind the pieces on a regular basis, that then culminates in the opportunity to purchase that work? On this week's solo episode, I'm dispelling some of the common myths about email marketing and how popping into your subscribers inbox is not the same as the big box stores sending endless emails to all of us this weekend.
Episode 321: Pursuing Creativity Slowly with Horacio Casillas
Dream with me for a minute - What if instead of stressing out over figuring out everything, you simply take the next step? This week on the podcast, I’m interviewing Horacio Casillas, who is currently a resident at Companion Gallery. And he’s spending this unique time as a resident artist doing just that - taking the time to slow down and think. He doesn’t have the next 5 years of life already plotted out and ticking off the to-do list towards whatever crazy goal that demands to push harder and wake up earlier and grind. Instead (despite giving himself set work hours), he’s allowing himself to reflect and make at a pace that leaves space for new ideas. And as soon as you see his unique style of work, no doubt, you might be a bit more convinced (like me) that there’s something to be said for a bit of slowness in our lives…
Episode 320 : Making Connections with Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy
You’ve just walked into a new gallery exhibition, and immediately you start thinking about the artist who created these amazing works in front of you. You dream of working in the arts and what that would be like. But have you ever thought about all the other ways you could also work in the arts? To put on that one exhibit there is also a gallery, and thus, a gallery owner (not to mention gallery employees), there’s potentially a marketing company that helps the gallery spread the word on new features, there might be writers and art critics that write reviews, and there may have even been a curator pulling all of these various pieces and people together. So, when we really get to thinking about it, there are a lot of ways to make a living working in the arts. And, as you are about to hear from this week’s guest, perhaps, if your goal has been to make an impact - to raise awareness around important social issues - well… maybe making the art isn’t always the fastest or biggest or most direct way to make that impact…
Episode 319 : Figuring Out What Works for You with Andrew Linderman
Should I sell online? Or should I sell at in-person markets? Should I accept wholesale? Should I teach? These are just a handful of the myriad of questions we makers often ask ourselves when trying to figure out how the heck to get our small businesses off the ground. But it’s hard to know what the right choice is for yourself until you try many of these things. And when I say try, I don’t necessarily mean just throwing up a table at one in-person market, where it rains on one day of the weekend, or maybe the hosts of the market don’t do as much marketing beforehand and the turn out was bad, so now you’ve decided that in-person markets are crap and you’re never do one again… No, often times we have to try all of these different routes to supporting our craft a couple of times, or maybe, if you’re like today’s podcast guest… 22 times. That’s right, twenty two.
Pricing your art… It’s part math, part alchemy, and a whole lot of emotion. It should just be simple math, but somehow it's never that simple. On today's solo episode I dig into the differences between cost-based pricing and value-based pricing (and why the second one is so important specifically for artists). Of course, as is true with most things in life - The topic is a bit more complex than we would probably prefer.
Episode 317: How having a Full-time Job allows Cory Brown to be an Artist
Most of us dream about quitting our full-time jobs in order to do what we love. In fact, that might just be why you are listening to this very podcast. But what if, instead of thinking of your full-time job as the thing holding you back from being creative, you approached it from the perspective of the thing that allows you to be creative. Maybe not necessarily while doing that job (although this week’s guest one could argue gets to do that too), but thanks to the reliability of that job - you get to make whatever you want to make. Whatever you are most curious about. Without worrying about whether or not you can sell it…
Episode 316 : Starting Before it’s Perfect with Juliette Davin
How many of us feel like we need to have every single detail figured out before we start something? I know I sure do. If this is your first podcast episode, you will soon figure out, I am awfully (obsessively) Type A for being a creative. And while at times that has served me really well in systematizing processes and being organized in order to use my time efficiently, at other times… it’s slowed me down. Analyzing every pro & con to every website platform out there for months and months before just simply starting the darn thing!
Sound familiar? It can be scary to start, so I think (at least it’s true for me) we give ourselves a false feeling of security by analyzing things until their final breath, thinking we can solve every possible problem that might come up before we even start. When, in reality, you just have to start in order to figure it all out. At least, that was the case for this week’s podcast guest, Juliette Davin.
Today on the podcast, I’m discussing one of my favorite, most insightful, yet most difficult to stick to topics… growing slowly. If I could do it all over again, and go back 12 years in time, the one thing I would do differently would be to actually hold onto the work outside of starting my own business longer. I was in such a rush to feel the false legitimacy of being “full-time” that I missed out on the benefits (and support) that was possible when you weren’t only relying on your craft to pay the bills. This week’s podcast guest has strategic patience about growing his ceramics studio which is deeply refreshing.
There are two very exciting things happening on the podcast this week! #1 - I’m excited to announce that for the first time since starting this podcast, we have a bit more support to help me get new episodes out into your headphones! For the next couple of months, the one and only Amaco is sponsoring the Maker’s Photography Styling System! And I couldn’t be more grateful & excited. #2 - This week’s interview with Ben Carter is actually Part 2! Part 1 can be found over on Ben’s show, Tales of a Red Clay Rambler. But you can really listen to them in whatever order you want, so don’t stress :)
Episode 313: The Myth of Growth with Rebecca Ickes Carra
Why do you want to have 10,000 followers on Instagram? What will that do for you? Or rather… what do you think that will do? Today’s world is full of encouragements to grow - have more followers, make more content, do more, diversify income streams - do more and grow, grow, GROW! But have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “Why?” On this week’s episode, host Rebecca Ickes Carra sheds a bit of light on the Myth of Growth and how it might not solve the problems we think it will (it could in fact create more problems. Or at least create a deep feeling of burnout…). Encouraging us all to think critically, she also discusses the ways we can approach growth strategically in order to build the lives of our dreams.
On today’s episode Tom Kemp manages to hold space for both a deeply philosophical conversation while at the same time providing pragmatic advice for all of us working to figure out how the heck to make a living from the things we make. I personally, have never connected much with the philosophy and the “what is art?” conversations that often spring up, but when married side-by-side with the realistic, and the pragmatic - the benefits of things like social media for artists to test out ideas in the marketplace alongside the difficult slog that is practicing a craft and teaching your body how to physically do something new in order to express that “what is art” idea? Now that is a conversation I could have had last twice as long as this interview.
Is the thing you are dreaming of doing actually going to provide you with the life you are dreaming of having? On today’s episode, I sit down with Becca Otis (yes, from Wheeltalk Podcast!) to dispel some of the myths behind a lot of goals us self-employed artists often set. Dream of owning your own studio & hosting classes, she’s done it. Dream of selling your work to make a living, she’s done it. Want to big name brands to contract you for elusive wholesale work? That’s how Becca actually started her business! And now… she’s intentionally working in someone else’s pottery business instead.
Episode 310: How a Big Goal Determines Everyday Decisions with Sam Lopez
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by all the things you think you are supposed to be doing as a maker in 2022? Post a reel every day to Instagram! Don’t use Etsy, build your own website! Raise your prices!! The world can often feel like it’s constantly yelling at us to change something, fix something, do something more, and more and more… And if you are anything like me, that ever-growing to-do list is impossible. There isn’t enough time in the day or resources available to accomplish all the world yells at me to do.
Episode 309: Organic Growth on Instagram in 2022 with Jackie Wright
Today’s guest has grown her Instagram from a few hundred to over 32 thousand (at the time I’m writing this) in about a year and a half. That’s right. Jackie Wright started intentionally using Instagram for her ceramics at the start of 2021. No paid ads, no clever tricks or outsourced marketing assistance. Oh, and she’s not a full-time potter either. She’s side-hustling. So if she can do it… well, I think you and I can do it too, can’t we?
Episode 308: Following your own inspiration with Kate Schroeder
What if you stopped making the kind of work you don’t actually like to make and decided to only make the "random" thing that really interests you? And what if doing that actually brought you more sales and more people interested in your work than you could have ever imagined?
That very thing is happening for Kate Schroeder and her Shelfies and on this episode, we get to hear all about the long road that led her to today's successes.
Episode 307: Repetitive Practice as the Key to Success with Rich Brown
For most everyone I’ve spoken with in the last year and a half of the podcast, one thing has been true - As soon as they touched clay, they were hooked. It was like a siren call, an addiction, where their whole life they began to rearrange in order to figure out how to carve out more time to have their hands in the mud. That mesmerizing experience that is true for so many of us, often has us jump straight from our first class at the local community studio to “how do I sell this so that I can quit my job?” in the span of just a few months. But what does it actually take to quit your job and go full-time in pottery? What SKILLS do you need in order to actually be able to make a living from the things you make? Are there certain goals you need to hit to make this thing viable? Today’s guest sheds a bit of light on his experience with these very questions.
Episode 306: Falling into a Life of Ceramics with John Britt
When you see a super well know potter's name somewhere - on the cover of a book, on a list of speakers at a conference, or anywhere else - do you ever wonder how they got there? Did they always know they wanted to do this? Or was their path a bit more windy (perhaps like yours and mine)? Have they reached this particular level of success because of a clearly laid out plan, or was it really most luck and timing? Well my friends, one of those names that pop up in my head as more of a name on a book rather than the person themselves is John Britt and on today's episode, you just might be surprised how he came to have his name on the cover of that book that’s probably on your shelf right now…
Episode 305: A Virtual Home for Makers with Rebecca Ickes Carra
On today’s solo episode, I’m sharing why I’ve spent the last 4 months building a virtual home for makers - The Community by the Maker’s Playbook - and a few of the things that make this online space particularly special to me. I know without a doubt that I would not have the business I have today without the support of a community of colleagues.
Episode 304: Building a Communal Space with Kenny Sing of Turn Studio
Kenny Sing of Turn Studio & I chat this week about how his Instagram originally started out simply as a place to share the processes he was testing out, without the intention of reaching 83,000++ followers. We also dig into his passion for teaching and why he's building his community studio space (plus how building a studio actually works and all the hard cost realities of doing that).
Episode 303: Making Space for Our Personal Lives as a Full-time Maker with Lucy Fagella
On this week’s episode, I virtually sit down with Lucy Fagella to discuss how she’s shifted her business over the course of the last 20+ years as a full-time studio potter. We chat about the realities of parenting and being a full-time maker as well as how to make sure you are taking care of your body amidst the physical demands of ceramics. Lucy has navigated the big shift from predominantly cash-based in-person market sales to credit card processing and online shops (and as may come as a shock to some, would rather spend a day packing up boxes & shipping labels than loading a car and driving to a show).
Episode 302: Committing to a Goal and Sticking to it with Delvin Goode
Have you ever talked yourself out of going after a goal because the logistics just felt impossible? Like pursuing a master’s degree when you can’t attend a school in person? Or setting up a home studio space when you work in a job that forces you to move locations every couple of years? Pretty difficult right? But not impossible. Or at least, you can’t use that excuse any more, because today’s guest on the podcast, Del of D Goode Art has managed to work with all of those logistical limitations while also creating some incredibly iconic work.
Episode 301: A Lifelong Pursuit of Learning with Adam Field
We are back! Season 3 of the Maker’s Playbook podcast kicks off with Adam Field! In this episode, Adam and I dig into how he managed to say yes to a multi-year residency program at the Archie Bray with 2 kiddos in tow, how he integrates social media into his studio practice, and the vulnerability it took to walk away from a consistent 6-figure sales-generating partnership with the Four Seasons when the style of his work needed to change. This is a conversation I know I personally will be returning to frequently.
Episode 217 - The Social Responsibility of Businesses (and different business models to pursue)
It’s taken me longer than expected to finish writing this episode. But I suppose that should come as no surprise given the constant influx of world news being thrown at us. At times like this, just like in 2020 and so many other moments of social awakening in the last few years, our work as artists can feel disconnected with the immediate needs of the world. On this week’s solo episode, I’m peeling back the curtain on how I process that for myself. Alongside my originally planned episode of discussing a few of the various business models you can choose in order to create a business that serves your life and not the other way around.
Episode 216 - Building and Growing Our Communities with Phi Le of Illuminated Clay
Do you think of the word “business” as a dirty word? Does the idea of starting a business seem like the last thing that might bring about the change we so desperately need in the world? Could a business possibly do as much good for our communities as a non-profit organization? Well, this week’s podcast guest is building a business on their terms. And it’s one creating quite an impact.
Episode 215 - On Burnout and the Search for Balance Nicole Dacey
Burnout - If it wasn’t a word in your vocabulary before 2020, it probably is now. It’s a topic talked about a lot in the land of the self-employed and generally, the tactics for avoiding it are always given by someone who’s just recently, slowly, crawling out of it. But don’t worry - Nicole Dacey and I aren’t going to give you any of those tactics you’ve heard a million times. No, instead, we settled in for a simple, candid, straightforward conversation about the twists and turns your career can take and the many ways burnout can show up even when you are doing things you love.
Episode 214 - Having a Non-Negotiable with Mike Tavares
What if you set up your life around one non-negotiable? How would that inform the decisions you make every day? How would that change your day-to-day schedule - where you live, what you choose to do for work (if it’s outside of the non-negotiable), how you commute… all of it. Maybe it’s a radical idea, but when I heard today’s podcast guest, Mike Tavares, describe this decision it was a big lightbulb moment.
Episode 213 - Taking Big Risks with Leila of Tierra Madera Ceramics
What’s the through-line for everyone thinking about going full-time with their art? Or even for those who are already full-time and self-employed? No matter what, aside from a slightly obsessive passion for our craft the big elephant in the room for us all is Risk. And today’s podcast guest stared risk in the face and said yes anyway.
Episode 212 - Growing as an Artist through Community Support with the Village Potters
Our first ever panel is on the podcast this week! I’m chatting with not one, but two of the founding members of the Village Potters Clay Center in Asheville, North Carolina - a brilliant community studio that clearly has cracked the code on not only helping potters and artists push themselves creatively but also in creating sustainable partnerships and viable businesses.
Episode 211 -The Importance of a Consistent Photography Style
Today, my photography tips come directly from a recent email conversation I was having with another maker about how things “should” look on Instagram. As in, do all of your photos have to have the same colors so the feed looks cohesive? Do you need to have a pattern to your posts? At the heart of all of these questions about the look of photos and the flow of a feed on Instagram to me was one thing: Your Style. Because the specifics of whether or not you have a pattern or whether or not it’s all one color, are less important than making sure everything feels cohesive together.
Episode 210 - Creating an Efficient Photography System
Photography can be overwhelming if you don’t have an efficient system for it. But it is possible to have an efficient system for it! And if you don’t believe on that - because you’ve been totally exhausted and frustrated by the google search results so far... Well, I’ve asked a few past students to share their experiences on the podcast.
Episode 209 - Being a Business Owner with Curt Hammerly
Have you ever thought, "If I only had a larger Instagram following then..." But have you thought about what it would really take to do that? How many hours it would take to create the content to grow that audience? There's no one that knows that reality much better than the one and only Curt Hammerly of Hammerly Ceramics.
Episode 208 - The Perks of Disparate Life Experiences with Kisha Reed of Peaks Candles
Our final new interview episode before a little holiday and end-of-year break is an insightful one. So often all of us can feel like we're behind... As if we could be so much farther along with our making practices or small business had we only known 10 years ago that this is what we were going to want to do. But what if all those disparate life experiences are actually creating the precise set of skills you might need in the future to in fact launch your business?
Episode 207: Crafting a Life that Works for You with Bryan Hopkins
I've heard it said more than once by makers of many kinds: Being a self-employed artist isn't a job you turn off. It's more a way of life. There are certain choices we can make that can make life more stressful or more in tune with the kind of business (and making practice!) we want to have.
Episode 206: Why Your Sales Results have Nothing to do with the Value of Your Work
It's the holiday season and makers around the world are hustling to get their listings online and take advantage of increased sales during this time of year. But what if your sales aren't going as planned? What if you haven't sold as much as you'd hoped? What if you haven't sold ANYTHING? What does it all mean?
Episode 205: Succeeding by Specializing with Matt Katz
Is there a singular aspect of your craft that you love above every other step of the process? For the ceramicists that are listening, there are SO many steps to our process! Making clay, building or throwing, trimming, glazing, firing... And there are seemingly endless options within any given one of those steps.
How are we supposed to become proficient in all of these things?!
Episode 204 - Building a Commissions-Based Business with David T Kim
This week I chat with David T Kim, an independent, full-time ceramicist, living and working in Chicago, focused predominately on creating custom work for some of the greatest restaurants the city has to offer.
Have you ever thought to yourself, "Well, if I had that many followers, then I could sell more and quit my full-time job”?Getting more followers is the solution to all my small business dreams!"
Or perhaps, you've been watching a bit of TV and thought, “Well, if I was on the Great Pottery Throw Down, I could quickly increase my audience size, sell loads of pots, quit my full-time job and all of life's problems would be solved!"
Episode 202 - On Crafting a Business to Suit Your Life with Greta Michelle
So often I hear makers talk about what they “should” be doing. How they “should” start posting on Instagram or “should” sell at markets, or “should” sell online. But how many of us have stopped to consider what we prefer? What suits us the best? What is the route in business that is most natural to our personalities and our personal lives? Greta Michelle is crafting a business that not only suits her life but also beautifully uplifts other local businesses from her home of Trinidad & Tobago.
Episode 201 - How to Sustain going Full-time with Sunshine Cobb
Season 2 is here! We are kicking things off with the one and only Sunshine Cobb.
Sunshine and I dig right into it from the beginning. From sharing, oversharing, and the importance of boundaries as makers and educators, to diversifying income streams, to deciding what you are willing to give up to make these crazy full-time artist lives of ours work. We talk about moving cross country, the importance of mental health, self-care, and how to sustain your art practice for the long run. This intro barely grazes the surface. There is A LOT in this episode!
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More Great Episodes
Episode 127 - How I “Do It All”
Having it all…. Doing it all… it’s the elusive dream. And while I don't think I'm actually doing it all, running 2 photography studios, starting a podcast, and launching an online course all while moving and starting one of the busiest wedding seasons in the history of events, is a lot to manage.
Episode 126 - On the Importance of Experimenting with Tamara Bryan
This week I’m chatting with Tamara Bryan, who you might know on Instagram as Tamara B Pottery. Tamara studied pottery in college and has been working out of her home studio on and off for the past 20 years. I say on and off because as the primary caregiver for her kiddos, while it may look to some that Tamara had the freedoms of a full-time potter, living the dream, the reality for her felt a lot more like the crazed side-hustle grind.
Episode 125 - Mental Health & Finding Your Community with Katie Meili
This week, I’m sharing an incredibly candid conversation I had with Katie Meili, who is a resident potter at The Village Potters in Asheville, North Carolina. We chat about the difficulties of mental health and how it feels when life takes unexpected turns that throw you off a path everyone else around you is on…. The silver linings that brought us to clay, and the importance of having a community that supports and pushes us as artists.
Episode 124 - On Trusting Yourself with Sherród Faulks of Deep Black Designs
I thought about cutting this episode into 2 parts, but I just didn’t know where to pause this conversation, so settle on in because Sherród and I just don’t stop. We’re two impassioned Scorpios who didn’t realize we were going to find such a fast connection so needless to say, we got a little carried away. And as two fire signs, we also get fired up, so there is a bit of cursing in this episode. If you have little ones, I suggest saving this episode for later or enjoying the wonders of headphones.
Episode 123 - The Importance of a Vision with Alex Matisse of Eastfork Pottery
This week I virtually sit down with Alex Matisse, founder and chief strategic officer of the one and only Eastfork Pottery. He shares insights into the pros and cons of growing such a large, successful business and how taking the time to get clear on a vision is the lynchpin of it all.
Episode 122 - Building a Brand Experience with Angela Venarchik
This week I'm catching up with one of my first ever potter friends, Angela Venarchik. As I was properly learning ceramics for the first time, Angela was preparing to quit her day job and go full-time with her pottery business. She taught me tricks to be more efficient with my throwing, and I shared business knowledge I'd learned over the last decade of entrepreneurship. And now... She's built a brand that not only provides customers with a consistent experience across all online platforms but also, connects her work to larger world issues that are meaningful in her own life and the lives of her customers.
Episode 121 - The 4th and Final Week of the Photography Extravaganza
When I first started learning photography, what made it so overwhelming was the number of variables. Not just stand-alone variables (like the effect humidity has on my hair) but intersecting variables. If I change my shutter speed, what does that do to the effects of the ISO or the aperture? But at the same time, if I start changing everything at once, then I really have no freakin’ clue what is going on and which variable is getting me the results I do (or do not) want!! Cue - Overwhelm.
Episode 120 - Week 3 of the Photography Extravaganza
Have you ever thought about WHY you're taking the photos you're taking of your pots? Do you pull out your camera and just start shooting because you feel obligated? Or do you start photographing knowing what the photos you're taking are specifically going to be used for? This week, week 3 (out of 4!) of the Photography Extravaganza, I'm talking about the 3 primary purposes of photography for makers and how each requires a very different approach to photography.
Episode 117 - Playing the Long Game with Ryan Durbin
It's a bonus episode! Normally this is our "off" week for publishing the podcast, but I have something very exciting in-store... I'm preparing a month-long series of upcoming episodes specifically about photographing your work. In order to do that, we'll be taking the next 2 weeks off, so I cued up this very special bonus episode with the one and only Ryan Durbin of RD Ceramics to tide you over in the meantime.
Episode 116 - Real life vs. Instagram with Sophia McEvoy
Do you ever think about what happened BEFORE the Instagram photos? Or BEFORE your favorite potter hit 25 thousand followers? Off and on, many people will talk about the real-life vs. Instagram life, and there are plenty of hilarious memes floating around the internet about them, but I’d wager a bet that while many of us (myself included) are scrolling through IG, we are never actively reminding ourselves of what that maker’s life looked like before that photo…
Have you been dreaming of taking your ceramics work full-time? That’s probably a stupid question, isn’t it? Don’t we all dream of that? I’ve discussed with a number of our past podcast guests about what it took for them to go full-time. Some of their stories were planned transitions and some just kind of happened... But, there’s been a common thread between everyone in all of these various situations: It’s a big scary leap.
I have a great conversation in store for you today with our 2nd episode ever featuring a non-potter! Like so many of us, Dwight’s journey into being an art-reprenuer (his word, not mine. Although I think it’s a genius word), is a windy one. He’s embraced some serious life changes over the years and yet continues to lean into the uncertainty of being an art-reprenuer with confidence I envy.
Ever wonder what it might be like in your very first year of full-time ceramics work? Take a peek behind the curtain of that very moment in time with Rachel Russell of Upper Call this week on the podcast.
Episode 112 - Soula Pefkaros of Golden Ratio Clayworks
At its core, I started this podcast to help the maker’s community with so many of the business struggles I’ve had to learn and overcome over the last 11 years of entrepreneurship. But frankly, my chat today with Soula Pefkaros of Golden Ratio Clayworks feels like exactly what I needed to hear for myself. We talk about managing expectations as a one-woman shop and solo maker, the struggle to find the right rhythm for a business that not only needs to provide for your livelihood but also support a healthy life for ourselves personally, and how long it’s taken both of us to start truly practicing the importance of genuine rest in our lives.
This week, Tom and I talk about the struggles of mental health, particularly in being self-employed or trying to create and put things out into the world, we talk about identity and how maybe the goals we don’t achieve are just signs that they were the wrong goals. We share how we’re both coming back to being true to ourselves, and we battle the worst-case scenario “what ifs” that plague anyone’s brain before they start a new venture.
Diana & I dig into the limitations she’s coming up against in trying to balance a full-time job and Sample Haus - which - spoiler alert - Between the time we recorded this conversation and now, Diana has actually put in her notice! She’s going full time! So if you’ve been wondering about that yourself, this episode is definitely for you (and you know I’m already planning to have Diana back this time next year to see how it’s all going).
I'm catching up with my friend and fellow wedding photographer (who has a pottery side hustle too!) Kate McElwee.
We share how COVID made us unemployed for the first time in our lives, how pottery and other mediums bring us the creative exploration that we can’t really take in weddings, and… perhaps of most interest to many… we dish a few secrets on how, as photographers, we absolutely simplify how we photograph our ceramic work so it doesn’t take too much time!
This week I’m chatting with woodfire potter, Simon Levin. A self-proclaimed “evangelist of clay” who continually finds ways to bring educational resources outside of the traditional structure to the clay community.
After over 30 years working as a full-time studio potter, there were almost endless subjects we touch upon in this conversation that could be entire podcast episodes onto themselves - How to make what you want first, and market second, the difference between craft and art, and so much more.
This week is a little different than most of our episodes. As I've been listening back through some of the amazing interviews we've already had in this first month of the podcast, I'm noticing some common themes and I wanted to take a minute to pull all of those together.
It’s my goal that these occasional solo episodes will help connect the dots on many of the common themes and through lines in the conversations we'll continue to have with podcast guests. Consider them the cliff notes version of the last few episodes (you'll miss all the juicy details that make an author's novel award-winning but you get the overall idea).
This week I chat with a wonderful past instructor of mine, Sandy Lockwood. Sandy has been making and teaching ceramics for the last 40 years. As a teacher, she has the unique skill of being able to help guide her students in finding their own unique style and approach to the craft. And as a maker, her ability to capture movement in stationary pieces, while also showcasing the wonders of wood and soda firing is incredible.
Ever wondered whether or not you should set up an Etsy shop vs. your own website? This week, Emilie (Twinette Poterie) and I dig into that very subject plus the pros and cons of working out of a shared community studio vs. her own home space. Not to mention her transition from being a formally trained painter into finding her unique style with the ability to bring that painterly quality onto pots.
This week we’re talking to Stephen Phillips. A unicorn in the pottery world (at least to my experience) because Stephen has been crafting forms out of mud since he was a little kid. He actually studied ceramics at the university level! What a crazy concept, right? This week, we talk about that constantly nagging itch in the back of our heads to take the leap and make ceramics a full-time career rather than a side-hustle, how Stephen planned out initially starting his studio after his plan for the “safe route” didn’t work, and how he would use that same approach in preparation to go full-time.
In this episode, we talk about the realities of transitioning from a full-time job to being a full-time potter and what it's like now that Kara and her husband's roles have actually switched when it comes to supporting the life they want. We also discuss the huge role our mindsets play in being able to succeed as an entrepreneur but also the tactical realities of charging what your work is actually worth. In fact, as Kara mentions, you need to make sure the rest of your brand experience - aka the quality of your photos - lines up with that same value as what you charge for your own work.
This week, I'm chatting with Camille Beckles of Camille at the Wheel. Camille was always inclined towards ceramics but took her first class about 4 years ago. And like so many of us, was hooked from the very beginning. Her iconic logo, which first was the reason for my following her work, is a singular example of her clear commitment to knowing and owning her brand story It's central to our conversation about representation in the art world, making work you actually enjoy making and continuing to explore the meaning of the word "balance" when it comes to multiple jobs and building a business you love.
Episode 101 - An Introduction to the Maker's Playbook
The debut episode of The Maker's Playbook! A podcast where we talk all about what it's really like to make a living from the things you make. This first episode is just a taste of what you can expect from The Maker's Playbook in the weeks to come. Every three out of four weeks, I'll have candid conversations with other makers about what life is really like. Occasionally, I'll jump in solo with key business tips on how to make your side hustle a viable business.