Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life…I love this sentiment and truly believe it. I have been ‘working’ on Rebecca Killen Ceramics for over three years now and I continually feel blessed to be able to do what I love every day. But really this work started much longer ago at a time when I didn’t really consider clay to be a career. I found clay through a passionate teacher at school and have been learning about and exploring the material ever since. It was only through taking a year out during my Fine and Applied Art Degree to study business at a college in the U.S.A that I realised the possibility of combining these new found skills with my passion for ceramics. Fast forward a few years and I am delighted to be selling my handmade bone china products internationally and throughout stores across the U.K and Ireland.
Having made loads of mistakes along the way here are a few tips that might help in getting your work out of your studio and into the world:
At the start of your journey it is important to explore different avenues to really understand which route is best for your business. Saying yes to opportunities that come up at the beginning will open doors and introduce your brand to new audiences.
After graduating I was successful in gaining a place on Craft NI’s ‘Making It’ programme, a creative business start-up scheme that provided participants with studio space and business mentorship. This opened up a network of makers including previous participants who had gone through similar experiences, their guidance and support was key in the development of my business. This was a structured scheme but it can be as simple as asking for help, seek out someone 5 or 6 six years ahead on the road and take action on their advice.
Test the Market
Whether it be through exhibitions, craft fairs or on social media it is important to get a grasp on what customers are drawn to and how much they will spend on your product. This gathered information really helped me to create a core collection before approaching potential stockists.
Work with Stockists
Your stockists are incredibly valuable, listen to their feedback as they are dealing directly with your customers on a day to day basis. There is also the potential to collaborate with your stockists, this could include an exclusive range or a one off statement piece. This is a great way of challenging your practice whilst staying true to your individual style.
Contradictory to my first point but sometimes it’s okay to say no as stretching yourself too thin can be detrimental to your business. As business has progressed I have learned to trust my instincts and during busy periods only commit to opportunities that I will be able to fulfil with integrity.
Images by Esther Irvine Photography