A question I often get is how did I do all this—a career pivot, a new craft, a new business—in less that two years?
I don’t believe I can or should prescribe a single formula for success. But I can point to things that have helped me get where I am.
I have made conscientiousness my holy grail; for two years, I have shown up and worked, choosing discipline over motivation. Another aspect of my personality that helped is my extroverted nature. After a career pivot at 37, building new networks and seeking out the right mentors and sounding boards came relatively easy to me because of my people skills. This helped me immensely in learning a demanding and expansive craft in a short time.
There are also a few process-related things I do that I believe give me an edge. I am entirely data-driven; I cannot get enough of secondary research. Every decision I make, I base it on data and information already available. I also document things around the studio meticulously. Over the months, my habit of tracking how much clay I lose in making pieces, how much time it takes me to make them or even simply documenting my glazing process and then studying the glazed pieces to draw inferences of what I can do better—has made me a better potter.
I made sure my mindset was one of curiosity. I encouraged myself to keep a can-do attitude focus on the whats and whys of the craft, more than the hows, which I tailored to myself and my abilities. I never shied away from reaching out to people, signing up for journals, following other potters, reading books and more books—anything that made my products more robust and my craft, deep.
I have also nurtured an entrepreneurial mindset over two years. I constantly think about my brand; things like what additional skills do I need to pick up to fortify it, what work can I outsource to experts, when should I choose delayed gratification and long-term plans over profits (answer: almost always) and more.
Finally, I have promised to hold myself solely and utterly accountable for my growth as a potter, and A Ware Studio’s growth as a brand. That helps; it’s like you have nothing and everything at stake.