Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pottery but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lisa Bare, Founder of Bareclay, located in Worthington, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Bareclay is a pottery studio in Columbus, Ohio. We teach potter's wheel and clay techniques to all people. Some of our students worked with clay as kids and loved it; some are serious artists. Most of the Bareclay Potters are people who have never engaged with this medium at all. We provide something that appears on a lot of 'bucket lists.'
Tell us about yourself
After receiving a Bachelor's in Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 1993, all of my friends were getting underway in graduate programs. I went a different route, more experiential in my learning approach. I was awarded a one-year residency at the Arrowmont School in the mountains of East Tennessee. Here, I taught community classes to eager hobbyists as part of the residency requirement. This was when I decided to start my business; I wanted to have a studio where all people were welcome. I wanted to share the awesome experience of clay in your hands. I came back to my hometown to start the business. Once, I was asked by an older artist in town what job I planned to try for upon my return. I said I was going to start my own pottery teaching studio. When he laughed out loud and said it would never be able to support itself, my motivation only grew.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
There are two. Number one is when I quit my last side hustle to completely live off my income at Bareclay. Number two is when I began hiring other artists to teach at my studio.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
That sick feeling when you are in a money slump and want to quit and go 'get a job.' I also find the constant need to be working a challenge. I go into the studio most days, and when I am off, I can't walk by the laptop without doing a quick check-in. It is hard to take time off; I have to force myself and trust my amazing employees.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be Humble. My side jobs I took in order to get a business off the ground included cleaning houses and bagging groceries.
- Be Brave. Persist when things get difficult, especially in the first 5 years. Be ready to do your side hustle to keep your business alive.
- Manage Debt...(so important!) I always kept my overhead as low as possible and still do. Make sure your business can pay its own bills. Let it grow slowly. If you need financing, use the SBA and borrow as little as possible.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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