Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in handcrafts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sarah McClure, founder of Sarah McClure Ceramics, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Sarah McClure Ceramics is a pottery boutique that focuses on creating a contemporary line of artworks, homewares, and jewellery that marries natural form and texture with a distinctive style. My goal is to invite a moment of calm into our ever-busy lives through the use of pottery. All pieces are handmade by myself in small batches from my studio space in North Delta.
My customers are those who share my passion for the arts and enjoy owning high-quality, handmade ceramics with a natural aesthetic. A large number of them are also tea and coffee fanatics who know that a unique handcrafted mug makes the perfect cuppa.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Sarah McClure, and I am the artist and founder of Sarah McClure Ceramics. I Have been working as an artist and potter within the art industry for over eight years. Before launching my business, I worked as an art technician and art/pottery instructor, but last year decided to make the leap and launch my business.
Art and, in particular, working with clay has always been a big part of my life. I am honestly at my happiest when I am up to my elbows in clay. Ask anyone who knows me. I try to convey this energy through my pieces. Working with clay has allowed endless opportunities to explore and experiment. There is so much to learn with this medium, which keeps it exciting. This approach means I am able to create truly unique pieces for my customers.
My work is inspired by the natural world; unique forms and textures, such as honeycombs or bark patterns, will usually be the starting point for my designs. I then refine these ideas to create contemporary products with a modern natural aesthetic.
Growing up near the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down, Northern Ireland. I spent a lot of time outdoors, on the coast, exploring the forests. I think this has left me with a profound fascination with nature, which moving to BC only amplified. This is why this theme has always been present in my work. Its important to me to continue to use Irish influences in my designs but also adapt them to my new surroundings.
What really motivates me is the feedback from customers saying how much they enjoy using a mug they bought. Or how much they like having a certain piece in their home. It just makes my day to know that someone is getting a little moment of enjoyment from something I have made for them. It is just the best feeling.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been to set up my business in a new country. Being originally from Ireland, I moved to Canada in 2017. Back then, I was still just figuring out the basics of living in a new country. I hadn’t a clue how to set up a business here. But it was something I had always wanted to do; however, it took a few years to find my feet in Canada and gain the confidence needed to launch Sarah McClure Ceramics.
I had to start from scratch and figure out where the suppliers were. Source a studio space to work, and eventually, find some help with learning about all the legalities than go into running a business here.
I was very fortunate as I met some wonderful people along the way, both here in BC and at home, who shared their knowledge and made introductions that all helped me get to the point I am at today.
There were a lot of struggles, particularly in the early days, but passion for what I do gave me the determination to keep going and get through all the earlier challenges. Sarah McClure Ceramics has been a dream of mine for many years. I am proud of myself for getting here and excited for what comes next.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that come with owning a business is all the different roles that you have to take on. It is a lot and can be overwhelming. I am no longer just the artist; I am responsible for every aspect of my business. It can be really hard at times, but it is also very rewarding when you find yourself doing things you never thought you could. I have also learned to seek help with the areas I am not so good with.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself; there are many great organizations resources out there that help launch your business. Small Business BC and going for it were great in preparing me to start my business and made the whole process much smoother. Take advantage of what resources and organizations you have available in your area.
- Lean on your network when you need to. You will have a much bigger group of supporters than you realize, and through these connections, opportunities will arise.
- Find your confidence when talking about your business/yourself. I still struggle with this one as I’m a pretty shy person. But no one will know your business as you do; you want to be its biggest champion and talk about what you do with confidence.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I have a few markets and events coming up; if you are interested, you will find the latest info at www.sarahmcclureceramics.com
Also, if you ever have any questions drop me an email. I will be happy to help.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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