Continuing our Crunch Chorus Stories series, Shoreham Pottery’s Alice Maplesden shares her experiences of running her own pottery business. Want to share your story with the world? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell us about your business
I’m the co-founder of Shoreham Pottery – a community pottery workshop based in Shoreham, East Sussex. We (myself and my business partner) work as a two person team and teach people how to make pots. We also make and sell our own designs ourselves.
What prompted you to go self-employed?
I have been self-employed for years. In the pottery industry, it’s hard not to be self-employed. You usually work out of other people’s studios and spaces, making and selling pots. I had been thinking about opening my own studio for a while and this year the time felt right to give it a go. We haven’t looked back since!
What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome when starting out?
Setting up the studio and workspace was tricky, especially sourcing all the equipment and materials that we needed. It was also difficult to navigate business essentials such as insurance, registering the business and things like that.
What do you like most about working for yourself? And what do you dislike?
I love that we can make the business what we want it to be. Everything comes down to you – no excuses! It can be hard to take time off as there are only two of us working at the pottery and we don’t have the benefits of being employed by a larger business, so no holiday or sick pay. It’s also impossible to switch off from work.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently when starting up?
To be honest, I don’t think so – everything sort of fell into place in the end. We were really lucky and had lots of help and encouragement from friends and family.
What would be your top tip to anyone thinking about going self-employed?
Think carefully about whether there’s a market for what you want to do. If there is, then do it! As long as you can keep on top of your finances and deal with being a bit poor you’ll be fine.
What’s your biggest success story from your time being self-employed?
Shoreham Pottery is definitely the highlight of my time being self-employed. We have had such a great reception from the local community and we love being in our space.
Do you have any pro tips on how to find new clients?
Word of mouth is best if you are a local business. If people have a great experience with us they’ll tell their friends and most of our clients come this way. We’re getting better at social media too and being able to promote our pottery studio online. We’ve also had stalls at a few local markets, which are great for handing out flyers and chatting to potential customers.
How do you find managing your cashflow?
With Shoreham Pottery, I’ve taken it upon myself to be the banker! We’ve only been active for just under a year but it feels like it’s all under control. Finances for me are a matter of staying on top of money coming in, pricing up classes properly and cautiously, and knowing all of your outgoings.
What did you consider when calculating your rates?
There were many things to consider when starting Shoreham Pottery: wages, materials, firing costs, rent, and utilities to name but a few. We’ve priced ourselves as affordable as possible and feel that our customers get value for money. We try to keep our course prices as low as possible without losing money!
Fancy putting your pottery skills to the test? Head over to Shoreham Pottery to find out more.
And if you want to share your experiences of being self-employed, give us a shout at email@example.com.
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