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.
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.
By helping women & historically marginalized small business owners build viable companies, we not only allow independent artists to create thriving lives, but together we create a sustainable bend towards equity in the world.