Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pottery but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Teresa Wyss, Founder of Teresa Wyss Pottery, located in Calgary, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Teresa Wyss Pottery is a small-batch pottery business. I work out of my home studio to create functional art ceramics. My unique work is all wheel-thrown, covered in black slip, and hand-carved using the sgraffito technique. My customer base is large and varied, as I sell all over the world online and locally in Alberta at the following locations: Alberta Craft Council in Edmonton, Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, Gust Gallery in Waterton, Leighton Art Centre Alberta’s foothills and the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. Mostly I sell my work to people looking to revel in the everyday magic of functional artwork.
Tell us about yourself
I am originally from Eastern Ontario, but I have been living in Calgary now for twenty years in order to be closer to the mountains - where I draw a great deal of my inspiration.
I first got started in pottery while still in high school, but aside from taking those few introductory courses, I am self-taught. I dabbled for years, experimenting with different tools and techniques whenever I could find the time. Eventually, I decided that I would be brave and enter a small art show in Lacombe, Alberta. Initially, it was tough to position my work in the public eye, opening them up to criticism and potential rejection, but after a lot of perseverance and hard work, I have created a sustainable business. Many years later, I was even able to convert our detached garage into a studio space, which is truly my own sanctum sanctorum!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I’d have to say that my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is when I get feedback on my work from happy customers. Knowing that I have created something beautiful that people enjoy and use in their everyday life means everything to me. I love receiving photos of my hand-carved mugs or bowls in their new home, being used to enjoy a delicious repast or to savor a precious morning coffee.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Balancing my work life and home life is one challenge that comes to mind immediately. Being a small business owner means that you are the marketing department, the accountant, the bookkeeper, the delivery person, the customer service agent, the shipping department, and, of course, the artist and creator. This level of compartmentalization and organization can be hard to handle some days, especially when all I want to do is sit down and create, ignoring my many administrative duties. Since I work from home and my office/studio is only a few short steps away at any moment, reminding myself to leave the work behind and participate in home life is very important.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just be brave and start. As hard as this may be, don’t overthink it - sometimes, all you can do is leap.
- Perseverance is key. The initial jump into a project like this can be a huge hurdle, but once you have that starting momentum, you can’t let go.
- And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people who have been exactly where you are, and most of them are more than happy to pass on their wisdom in trade for a cup of coffee. One of the best parts of my journey has been connecting with my fellow artists and creating a sense of community by sharing experiences and trading advice.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I am one of those people who is happy to trade tips for a cup of coffee! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out on Instagram or Facebook. While I don’t have all the answers, I am always willing to share what I’ve learned or commiserate over something that has us both in the dark! Good luck, and be bold!
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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