Ceramics Monthly: What is your business plan to grow
Karin Kraemer: Duluth Pottery, my studio and retail shop, was in the historic Trade and Commerce Marketplace in Superior, Wisconsin, for 17 years. I rented the space to make work to bring to fine art fairs and galleries. The building was empty at first, but filled up fast. We founded a non-profit arts council and started promoting art, music, and food events. Like-minded community entities including a coffee house, yoga studio, and art studios brought a growing audience. We built a nice following of locals and tourists. I am proud to be a part of an expanding network of businesses reaching toward diversity, sustainability, and authenticity in our region.
Since the recession, I do less art fairs. I’ve been concentrating on local support, as it is more sustainable. I make art pottery to be used and loved. Our handmade pots are used by local restaurants and businesses for serving and selling to their customers. We do tile installations for homes and public art, but we lacked the space to grow this part of the shop. These additions make for a solid base that fulfills my desire to make art, live with it, and share it with my neighbors. Arts advocacy starts with making art!
Last year gentrification threatened our symbiotic world. As the art folks moved out, my gallery declined. I realized I had to move and reach for something better.
I spent the year researching choices and took the leap to buy a building in the growing Lincoln Park Crafts District of Duluth, Minnesota, just across the bridge from Superior on Lake Superior. It has established businesses that actually make things including art studios, restaurants, and craft breweries.
Duluth Pottery (myself with two other artists) will have more room to work, a larger, beautiful retail space for sales and shows, and be located smack in the middle of a working neighborhood where using your hands ties us all together. The location will be an exciting space for events like farm-to-table dinners, art shows, and pop-up exhibits in a growing arts and locavore neighborhood.
CM: How do you plan to retain or grow your customer base after your upcoming move from one town to the next?
KK: Luckily, our move is just a mile from the present studio, across the St. Louis River. Most of my regular folks are in Wisconsin and my Minnesota customers are excited to have us closer. We are getting them involved by including them in the work and planning. To expand the customer base, the Entrepreneur Fund is helping me market the move through media and social networks as well as my mailing list. Soon, we’ll have an e-commerce presence on the Internet.
Most importantly, we partner in the arts here. We love what we do and will have exhibits, music, food, and make it exciting to participate in the new studio. We want to sell great pottery from our area and be the gallery to go for clay art in our region!