In College, I took a lot of pottery classes. I loved it but never expected to do anything with it. I was an animation major and I took the classes more because of the lack of homework than anything. When I graduated, I was really burned out on the animating and I ended up working for Portland Pottery for a couple of years. I got pretty good at throwing and sold my work occasionally when they would have shows. This was back in the early 2000’s. The internet was alive and well but this was before social media and Etsy. Back then I couldn’t fathom making any real money as a potter. Certainly I could make money teaching kids classes and cleaning the studio but making money at selling pots just couldn’t be done without spending all my time at craft fairs on the weekends.
Eventually I left Portland Pottery in 2006 to start my own web development company. I had always liked to mess around with code and had created a few websites for fun. Back then, I didn’t exactly know what I doing but the w
orld wide web was still young and it didn’t take me long to get acclimated. Over the years my business grew and I started offering online marketing services like search engine optimization.
Occasionally I found a great deal on pottery equipment and started acquiring everything I needed to build a home studio. I didn’t get to use the equipment right away. I ended up having 3 kids in 5 years so life was just too busy. In 2014, a coworker of my husband and his wife gave me a free standard size kiln they had in their basement. A few months later a friend offered to take all 3 of my kids for the day and I decided it was a good time to start throwing pots again as I was dying to try out the new kiln. That day, Zwellyn Pottery was born!
I posted the new pots I made that day on Facebook and right away realized just how much more opportunity there was than I’d experienced 8 years prior. I received over 100 likes on my post, people were excited and interested in buying. I started to realize that I could use my online skills to promote my pottery, making it possible for me to make enough money to justify doing it.
Web development is still my day job but I get to make pots every week. I fire my kiln at least once a month and I generally make between $500 and $1000 a month doing something I love. It will be a while before I’d ever try to make pottery a full time job, BUT I’m setting myself up for success if or when I choose to go that route.