Happy Monday, everyone!
Ok, so I’m sure many of you are less-than-thrilled that it’s Monday, but I am really looking forward to this week (plus I’m super giddy as I sit down to write this post on Sunday evening). It is supposed to hit the 60s–60s!!–this week, which means some nice, long walks with Eve and my new mom friends. I just had my first wedding show today (well, yesterday by the time this post gets published) and I met some awesome brides with whom I hope to work. I sold three of my runner bracelets this weekend (hence the source of my giddiness), which means I am 40% to reaching my fundraising goal of $500 to the One Fund Boston. And finally, I pumped to be bringing back artist interviews again, kicking it off with a fantastic local artist who makes beautiful custom ceramic dishes.
I must back up for a moment. When Eve was about a month old, Sam and I tried to make a ceramic plaque with an impression of her feet. It was a complete and utter fail.
Not only did we fail once, we kept trying and failed about three times, and probably tortured our poor baby in the process. Clearly, making art with baby feet impressions is not our calling, but thankfully Tanya Chin of Zinnia Designs is close by to us and makes absolutely beautiful ceramic art to commemorate special occasions of all kinds, as well as adorable gifts for every day! I absolutely love her work and getting to know her more through my interview and I hope I have an opportunity to work with her in person soon.
How did you get started making custom ceramics?
I have a BFA in ceramics from Mass College of Art and started a Masters in Education. I was burnt out and ended up getting a internship at a high tech company leading to a 10 year career in marketing. I was missing working with clay so when we bought a house I made sure to get a kiln. I started doing impressions of my friend’s babies hands and feet as gifts. One day I had an extra piece of oval clay that i shaped into a dish and used one of my favorite rubber stamps to make a star design in the center. I used the little dish for paperclips on my desk at work and everyone loved it. I started making more dishes using all of my dusty rubber stamps. At some point I put some text on a dish which lead to personalizing a dish with someone’s name and then the rest is history.
I love zinnias…they are such gorgeous flowers in an amazing array of sizes and colors- sort of like my work. I didn’t want to pigeon hole my business into just pottery in case I ever decide to branch out to other mediums. So zinnia designs was born.
What do you like most about having your own creative business?
I’m the boss…it’s all up to me! It’s great to make my own hours and have flexibility in my schedule if one of my kids gets sick.
What do you find most challenging?
It’s all up to me! I wear many hats in my business and at home….I’m mom, a cook, housekeeper, artist, marketing mgr, customer service rep, shipper to name a few. At times it’s hard to juggle it all, but at the end of the day I manage and everyone is happy.
What inspires you to create?
In today’s world there is so much coming at you everyday online. I might see a new stamp in a Paper Source email or a color in a blog post or maybe customer asks me to make a certain something that leads me to a new idea for a piece. I’m constantly ripping out pictures from my slew of magazines. I wish I had more time “doodle” in my studio, but because I have limited time without my kids to work I have to concentrate on getting my orders completed. I do have a 2014 goal of doing some much needed sketching.
What do you think motivates others to buy handmade?
People love unique items. They love personalized items and being able to work with the artist to create that special piece. I also think people are trying to support the local person or maybe the mom across the country in today’s world where everything is made overseas. I know I appreciate my customers and do my best to make sure they are happy and when I buy a handmade item I assume that I will get the same level of service.
What is your favorite handmade item you have bought or received?
I traded with a woman on Etsy-she needed a particular dish and I loved her stamped bracelets. At the time I only had 1 child so we left room for #2 and I sent it back to her and she added my daughter’s name. It’s a simple design with a nice font and I love wearing it.
When you are not designing and creating handmade items, what do you like to do with your time?
I love to go hunting for antiques. My grandmother is an antique dealer and I bought and refinished pieces starting in high school. Nothing more fun than hitting a great yard sale or flea market on a nice spring day with my mom. We both love the same stuff and we always have so much fun.
What is something people might not know about you?
I’m very allergic to horses yet I delivered one in high school. I was painting a fence at a neighbor’s house and the horse she had been sleeping next to decided to give birth when she quickly ran to the grocery store. It was a miniature horse and they unfortunately have a high death rate at birth. I ripped open the placenta and helped the little guy get up. He stood not even 2 feet high with gorgeous carmel colored hair and long eyelashes- I’ve never seen a cuter baby animal.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to others with their own creative business?
Don’t be afraid to approach someone about your business and always have biz cards on you. I’m constantly seeking out moms at the grocery store. I nicely ask if I may give them my card and if they want to chat great and if not that’s fine too. Obviously I’m lucky that my target market is easy to spot, but a photographer who does baby portraits could do the same. Or maybe you make scarfs and see a woman with a nice scarf on…compliment her on her scarf, ask her where she bought it (maybe you learn about a new shop that could carry your scarfs) and then hand her your card and ask her to check out your handmade scarfs.
Thank you so much for joining me on my blog, Tanya, and be sure to check out her shop!