How To Start a Business Without Really Trying

I think now is maybe a good time to talk about how Everyday Stoneware came about.

I didn't mean to start a business, or generate a brand, or anything like that. I just started making pottery, and at some point realized I had more pottery than A)I was using, and B)would fit in my tiny NYC apartment. (Actually, at this point in my pottery career I was still living in a reallllly nice one bedroom apartment in Inwood with so many kitchen cupboard and cabinets that I probably actually had room for a lot of things. This is a mostly hypothetical discussion that refers to the general lack of storage space in New York City apartments.)

So... what do I do with it? Well, I started with giving it away. Here Mom, here's a few really heavy, small mugs, hope you like them! Hey friends, you guys like bowls, right? You should use these!

I think at a certain point, people start to worry you're going to continue to just give them things they don't want.

So then I started selling things. I remember my very first real sale - a friend of a friend came over to my apartment to check out my inventory. We had met a few days earlier at a gathering, and I mentioned that I made pottery. She asked me if I had anything for sale and I thought, "Huh, I suppose I do... why not!" And I said sure, come by and check it out. I was so nervous about pricing things, and wondered if I would be asking for too much money or too little since I had no idea how to price my work. It turned out to all be fine - she picked out a few simple pieces, I think I charged her way too little money for all of it, and I had a mini-celebration after she left. I sold something! People think my amateur work is good enough to BUY! This is nuts!

It was quite a few months later before I began to put together an Etsy page, with its intimidating shipping of items and listing charges and photos, and then still another couple months before I had a real sale to someone that wasn't my Mom. Apparently she still would have liked for me to just continue to give her things I didn't want.

Since then, things have slowly just grown, kind of own their own. I don't remember any more where the name Everyday Stoneware came from - I feel like I thought of it one day, as if out of a dream. The name seemed to suit the kind of work I did, and I liked the idea of having a shop name that wasn't just "Heather's Pottery". Everyday Stoneware sounded official. I made some Etsy sales, got a few interesting custom requests - one from a local photographer and another from a restaurant in LA, had some small sales at the community studio I worked at via their gallery, participated in a local craft and food market, and last winter I was selected to be part of a pop-up holiday store on the Lower East Side. All of these experiences have left me more and more prepared to come to the realization that yes, I have built a brand, and yes, I have started a small business, and yes, someday, it will actually make a profit.