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Continuing our 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 email@example.com.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
If you reckon it’s time for a career change and are considering setting up your own business, visit our #GetStarted homepage for free resources and advice on how to make it happen.
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