Hello! First up, I’ve updated my “Shows” page above with all the details you’ll need to find me this holiday season! And also, on the right hand side —–>
Next up, I’ve had some really great chats lately with fellow makers. I love hearing what my friends are doing to improve and grow their businesses. We swap stories all the time, talking about what works and what doesn’t, and we lend an ear to each other’s business questions & quandaries. It’s addictive and ridiculously supportive. And I realized, I’ve been keeping it pretty “lite” on the blog these days, but I’ve been wanting to return to sharing more personal stories as well, so as I enter the hectic holiday season, I thought it might be useful to reflect a bit and share my creative journey over the past year. Here’s what’s been going on:
In January, I decided to change my approach to creating & selling my ceramics. On the creation side, I wanted to work smarter (not harder…hardness is already at a maximum I think!). I also knew that I wanted to work collaboratively with other artists who I admired to inspire the creation of new bodies of work and new ways of presenting that work to others. More on that in a bit! On the selling side, I set out to shift the bulk of my sales from consignment/retail to wholesale/retail. To do this I finally developed a more streamlined collection (the blue & white series, which came about from my collaboration with Heather Dahl). I’d shied away from this foray into wholesale for far too long, by making excuses that it would be too difficult, that during/after a recession I would have to be happy with consignment only, that Ontario was too fussy a market right now to shift to wholesale and that I’d potentially lose certain opportunities…it went on and on. Basically, a giant heap of fear was really holding me back. Consignment is a great way to get your foot in the door, to introduce your products to new buyers and test new locations, but let me tell you sister, it is not sustainable over time, not for the bulk of an artisan’s sales. At least, not for me. That’s why I’ve been so thrilled to see shop owners approach me more often with an openness to wholesale, and why I’ve respectfully opted out of other opportunities that didn’t fit the new game plan. When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s so hard to say no when opportunity knocks. It literally makes my stomach churn when I think about it. Yet staying true to your vision is really important when you’re building your business. And I’m so grateful to all my stockists for carrying my work and supporting what I do!
Photography by Miro Wagner
The next big change I made was to not sell at the One of a Kind Show this holiday season, which is running right now, actually. Gulp. Instead, after a three-year hiatus, I wanted to be part of local indie holiday shows again. By shifting my energy away from the OOAK this year, I’ll be able to participate in more smaller shows (which due to contract rules, an artist usually can’t be a part of if they’re selling at the OOAK) and reconnect with the amazing indie craft community in my city. Oh, how I’ve missed y’all! Really, it’s just a big experiment in running my wee business to see what works better for me: to do one giant retail show a year and hope for amazing sales (emphasis on hope) vs. doing 3-5 smaller shows with strong followings and see gradual sales (and maintain my sanity). So far, using my state-of-the-art sales projection tools (my calculator and my intuition), this is looking like my best year yet. Here’s hoping all us artisans & crafters have a strong holiday season!
(Left) Pouring & straining the clay slip, (right) greenware bud vases waiting to be bisque fired. Photography by Miro Wagner
Back to the collaborative projects. As mentioned before, I did the Kindred show in June with Heather of Dahlhaus. This was really rewarding. We planned the entire show by email correspondence, sharing a blog, and the occasional text message. When Heather arrived in Toronto and we finally got to unwrap our pots and see them together for the first time — it just clicked!
Now, I have two more collaborations in the works. Home décor & product designer extraordinaire, Avril Loreti, and I are creating a very special project for this year’s Capacity show. Capacity, a showcase of women working in design, is part of Toronto’s Design Week, and will show at the Gladstone Hotel in late January. Collaborating with Avril is inspiring in so many ways. Her happy spirit and coy sense of humour infuse into everything she creates. I’m a fan. We’ll post more details about our project as it unfolds, and will be blogging about our process, too, but in the meantime I can say that we’re working on something big, bold, colourful and pattern-focused. Agh! So excited.
In 2013, I’m also going to be creating something special with Jen Kneulman, of Freshly Printed! We studied at OCAD together, and have wanted to translate our mutual business crush into something fabulous for some time now. Jen’s handprinted linen goods are incredibly detailed and lovely, and can now be found at Anthropologie. PS Check out the feature on Jen & her business in the December issue House & Home magazine!
One last mention…I have updated my upcoming holiday shows (City of Craft, Movies & Makers, etc). so you know where to find me! I’d love to see you if you can make it out! My work will also be featured in the Studio Huddle Holiday Shop again this season. They have a beautiful showcase of local, high-quality artisan goods. See the invite & opening reception info below: