So, that’s why I’m so bloody tired. 2018, a year in review...
Firstly I’d like to start with a thank you. Thank you to you for all your support this year. For every ‘like’, ‘follow’ and maybe even choosing to give one of my pots a new home, I can’t thank you enough. And to all the clever, fantastic, wonderful, precious people who helped or cheered me along the way. You are the reason I am here…THANK YOU!
This has probably been the hardest year for me and my business so far (which I will probably talk about at a later date) but this post is a post of celebration. It certainly hasn’t all been rosy that’s for sure but I want to focus on the positives and the lessons, if you find that triggering for you and gives you any kind of comparison-y, icky type of feelings - then scroll on sista - no hard feelings.
The first part of 2018 seems so long ago now I can hardly remember it, so many things have happened in between Jan 18 and now. Scrolling back through the photos on my phone sparked a few memories…
My hubby and I started the year with an amazing trip to NYC in January- I bought him (us) the trip last Christmas as a surprise, a thank you for supporting me so gracefully through 2017. We ate, walked and chatted our way round the art galleries of that great city. Chatting about our dreams and aspirations about the year ahead, little did we know at this point what a crazy, whirlwind year it would be…
I started putting in much more effort into my photography, I did Sara Tasker’s @me_and_orla brilliant Insta-retreat and invested in a new camera. When I look back at photos from Jan now, I realise how truly terrible my photography was. I still have a lot to learn about getting the most out of my camera but I am at least a bit more confident with it now.
In February, photographic bloggers Together and Sunspell @together.and.sunspell visited my studio and took some beautiful pictures of the way I live and work as a potter. Their visit was a joy and gave me such a boost in those dark weeks before the earth started to reawaken from it’s winter slumber. With permission, I have used their gorgeous images all over my website.
In March, I redesigned my website (when I say I - ‘I’ mean my very talented friend Megan @meganinthecountryside). We focused on making my website into a more immersive space, a place my business can stretch its wings and we made it all feel a bit more grown up.
April - June
During the spring we spent a lot of time by the sea and made the most of the longer days. We went to Bali, surfed and drank Bintang. Those months were lean business-wise, I spent more time than normal out of the studio plus a year before Brexit things were uncertain, sales were slow but I was taking it easy as a maker too. We must have known we needed to charge-up our energy reserves for the next few months…
July - Sept
The year really stepped up a gear at this point.
We built a studio. Ha! seems crazy to say it now. We built a friggin’ studio! You can read all the details of why and how we did it here
I did my first ‘influencer project’ with Skutt wheels.
I launched my workshops and pottery lessons. I was super nervous about opening up my studio, my home and my pottery for the very first time but I shouldn’t have been, my students have been so incredibly warm, enthusiastic and kind. It has given me a whole new love and respect for teaching.
This was the year of Podcasts, I didn’t plan it but ended up being featured on three well-respected podcasts:
I was interviewed by Paul Blais on @thepotterscast This was a bit of a dream come true for me. The Potter’s Cast is such an institution amongst potters i was truly honoured to have been asked. You can listen to it here
Kayte Ferris from Simple and Season (@simpleandseason) interviewed me about comparison, content and my scatterbrain for her Podcast ‘Grow with Soul’. You can listen and read the transcription of that episode here.
I also chatted to the lovely Fiona Barrows @fionabarrows for her Podcast ‘There are Other Ways’ about what made me take the leap from marketing shoes to pottery. You can listen to that episode here.
I was also honoured to have been chosen to be part of Neptune’s craft initiative, more news on that soon…
Oct - Dec
In the last three months of the year I got organised. Completing the huge studio project fired me up with new found confidence and drive to really make the most of my new space. I’d just spent the best part of £13K (a lot of it on a credit card) so I had to make some of that money back- quick! My dear friend (and chief butt-kicker) Megan and I sat down and made a plan for these last few months. I decided what I wanted/had to make financially and then worked backwards. My aim was to claw back some of the money I had just invested - I challenged myself to turn over £15,000 in the last 3 months of the year ( that’s turnover not profit) Back then this figure sounded crazy - totally blue sky - it had taken me 9 months to make £15K so far that year! (like I said, business was lean) so this was going to be a real stretch. But by giving myself focus and breaking down the period into how many pots that actually meant, how much I could make per week, creating a strict making schedule where every hour was accounted for… after which, it still seemed intimidating - yet more doable.
It was tough. I worked very, very hard, there were tears, my hands resembled those of a 109 year-old grave digger and I had help - lots of help -both Megan and my husband worked with me at least 1 day a week during Oct- December. I was already exhausted by Mid-November and had the hardest few weeks ahead of me. It was an intense few months to say the least…
But totting up my numbers last week - to my absolute joy - I had done it! In fact, I had smashed it. I had turned over £15,800 in three months. All that hard work and planning paid off. I never actually thought that target was achievable.
Things this year has taught me…
1) Getting help isn’t a sign of failure, its a sign you are growing. You can’t do this alone.
2) Include contingency - things happen outside of your control - such as wet weather, meaning pots taking much longer to dry - my second kiln started over firing in early December so I was down to one kiln. You need to factor in time for mistakes, things going wrong, pots cracking or glaze batches fail. Shit happens and some buffer time is essential.
3) Things might not turn out exactly as you planned but that’s ok. A plan is just a plan, its not set in stone, things are allowed to shift as your business evolves and as personal aspirations shift. If things turn out differently to what you thought it’s because the universe knows a better way. Trust that where you are is exactly right for you, right now.
What this year has taught me above all else is that everything is possible. Don’t limit yourself. Aim high, give yourself permission to succeed, and don’t worry about the details of how exactly you are going to achieve your goals . In the words of Jen Sincero “There’s nothing as unstoppable as a freight train full of f*ck-yeah!”
Things I want to do a bit more of next year…
Travelling- I get so inspired by travel. I find other cultures and ways of living and creating fascinating. I want to do more of it. Visiting other potter’s around the world is high on my list.
Make time to see more art; live music, exhibitions, reaching out to fellow creatives - all keeps the creative juices flowing and just because I love it.
Be more on top of spending in my business. This is probably one of the most boring yet essential points. Part of the reason I was able to hit my target was because I invested. I gave myself the space, tools, equipment and resources to achieve my goals but without much regard to how that would impact on my bottom line. I haven’t as yet worked out my profit for the year- this will come at the end of January (with my tax return) but I anticipate it not being as healthy as it perhaps could of been.
So, What’s Next? My goals for 2019 and beyond...
I have so many ideas for next year and beyond: I had such fun talking to my interviewers from this year’s podcasts I had a crazy idea to start my own! - I want to build stronger connections to other creatives, get to know them personally and what better way to do it than chat to them for an hour over a cup of tea. Talking to small businesses about their lives, their work, their dreams and aspirations and their challenges- in the hope that this will inspire and make other small makers feel less alone in their endevours. Listen out for ‘Shed Diaries: stories from the potting shed’ (working title;-). Coming soon (ish)…as soon as I’ve worked out how to make a podcast 😉😂🙈
I will launch an online pottery course. Launching my teaching practice has highlighted something quite significant, there are many folks who would like to learn pottery and more specifically learn pottery with me! But they can’t…because they live in Texas, Australia, Singapore etc… by launching an online course I can bridge that gap. It is still in the very early planning stages and I’m not sure when it will go live -maybe this year - maybe next. What I do know is (if I do it) it’s going to be a lot of work because I want it to be kick-ass good.
I will design a range of ceramics for another brand. Lets face it, there are only so many pots one person can make, I don’t want to limit myself to my own physical capacity. I’m going to explore this as option in the next 12 moths.
You’ll notice I said ‘I will’ here not ‘I’d like to’ or ‘I hope to’ I’ve deliberately used this language. Writers such as Jen Sincero, Alan and Barbara Pease have had a big impact on me this year. What I’ve learnt from their teaching is that if you decided absolutely without a doubt that something will happen e.g. I will earn £60k next year then you have already given your goal engergy and set universal forces in motion to make that thing happen. Whatever you feel about manifestation and universal attraction etc I think there’s certainly a mental advantage to being consciously positive in your language and the subsequent sanguine energy will fuel your ideas.
2019 is going to be a busy year!
I’d like to end this blog post (and the year) with gratitude. The gratitude I feel to be able to do this for a living is immense and sometimes a little overwhelming. It cannot be expressed by typing a few hundred words in a blog post. You’ll have to trust me that I hold that gratitude in my heart, always.