This week we’re talking to Julia Smith from Folksy shop Julia Smith Ceramics
Could you describe your shop?
I make functional, distinctly handmade pottery, mostly mugs, bowls, spoons, brooches, jugs and sugar pots. My style is a combination of delicate illustrations over subtle glazes and a raw rustic clay base. I photograph and list each item individually in my Folksy shop as no two pieces are the same.
Who does your Folksy shop appeal to?
My shop appeals to people who like to buy handmade, directly from the maker and are looking for something a bit different. One of the things I like about my Folksy shop is that it is a visual record of all the ceramics I have been making over the past two years. Shops and galleries can look at the current items for sale as well as the sold things and they make up orders from there or customers can request specially made items such as personalised wedding gifts.
Is this your day job?
I have been working with clay since I graduated from art school in 1996 but I have just been making my own pottery for the past two years, before that I worked on public and community art projects (see www.deepfired.net). I ran a ceramics studio in Glasgow where I taught classes and worked on commissions and it was there I started to get into throwing. My boyfriend introduced me to climbing munroes, mountain biking and kayaking and as time went on we decided we wanted to move out of the city and spend more time playing outside. I steered my work away from being reliant on having a lot of people around to teach and started to think about making work which I could sell online. We moved north last November to a village near Inverness and now I spend my time making my pottery and selling it online, at craft markets, trade shows and through retail outlets.
Have you been into craft and the handmade lifestyle for long?
Throughout my childhood my parents were very resourceful and were always creating things. My mum would make us clothes, restore old furniture to sell on and also made some incredible fancy dress costumes, including a gigantic tweety bird costume which made our cat pee with fright all over the kitchen worktop. My dad designed and built all the houses we lived in, he made cars and raced them, made us toys and was good at making up funny poems so it is no surprise I ended up the way I am.
Where do you promote your shop?
This year I have been travelling to shows to sell my work and I always take lots of business cards to hand out. I have a website with links to my online shop and I do a little bit of tweeting sometimes.
Do you have plans to expand your business in the future?
In a few years time the dream is to move to a larger more rural property and set up a gigantic workshop and run residential ceramics courses as well as making my pottery, going away on residencies and maybe having some animals too. Having just moved home and studio 6 months ago that dream can wait a while…
What advice would you give to someone thinking about opening up a shop here on Folksy?
I would say if you are happy with what you are making and think it is ready to reach an audience then go for it. There seems like a lot that you have to do to get started but it gets so much easier and more fun as you go on. The number one tip is take the best photos that you can, get a decent digital camera and use the macro setting for great close ups. You will learn lots as you go along and the Folksy community of sellers and buyers are the most forgiving, generous, welcoming bunch of folk so there’s plenty of support and encouragement there.
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