When passion and opportunity combine, business often flourishes. For Averee Creighton, founder of Claymates Ceramics Studio and business plan client of Small Business BC, this magic mix empowered her to walk away from her day job and fill an important need in Vancouver’s pottery community; a supportive environment to practice their hobby alongside like-minded creatives.
The Beginnings of Claymates Studio
Pottery has been around since ancient times. It’s a tactile and fun hobby that’s easy to pick up and massively rewarding to master. Like many creative fields it has struggled to find a place in the Lower Mainland amid rising rents and limited space. Frustrated at the limited opportunities to practice her passion, Averee decided to take matters into her own hands.
“I started Claymates Ceramics Studio because I love how creative spaces bring people together. It was kind of a combination of just not being happy at my current job and seeing such a big need in the pottery community,” she explained.
“I was personally trying to find a place to practice on my own, and it was really hard to find an affordable option where you could practice in community. I think part of me was just waiting for something I was passionate enough about to start a business doing it. For me, that thing was pottery.”
Leaning on Support
Starting a business has a lot in common with moulding a piece of clay. Sure, it might seem overwhelming at the beginning but with patience, support and practice, it’s possible to sculpt something amazing.
Averee turned to Small Business BC’s Business Plan Advisor Laura Aveledo to help sculpt her business plan into shape.
“When I sat down with Laura, I knew what my concept would be, but I wasn’t sure what the best way was to make it happen.
“To give a specific example, I had never done a cash flow and Laura really opened my eyes about how important it is. Working out your monthly income, planning for the highs and lows of daily business, it’s all information you need to think hard about before you can approach a bank for financing. Looking at the figures helped me realize I’d need to increase my pricing to have a viable business model. It was a decision I would never have made without seeing the information in front of me like that.
“Laura also helped me to define my target market. I had a general idea of the type of client I was hoping to attract but we really focused on identifying my ‘typical customer’ and it has made a massive difference to how I approach marketing going forward.”
It Takes a Community
From a location in the heart of Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, Claymates Ceramics Studio has become a valuable community resource. It gives a home to the city’s pottery enthusiasts, it’s available for parties, and is regularly full of clients pursuing their passions. This community aspect has been a mutually rewarding relationship that has helped Averee through the highs and lows of the start-up phase.
“I could never have opened the studio without the help of my community,” Averee said.
“One of my strengths is influencing others to accomplish goals, and my studio is truly a labour of love between my friends, family and the individuals in the local community. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is you don’t have to be an expert in your field to start a business! You can lean on experts and learn as you go. I would say my skill set lies in creating environments for people to connect and be creative in – and it’s working!
Stop by and Say Hello
Claymates Ceramics Studio is located at 762 Kingsway in the heart of Mount Pleasant. Stop by, spin the wheel and see what creations you come up with!
Here to Help
Ready to follow in Averee’s footsteps and start your own business? No matter what stage of business, or what problem you face, Small Business BC offers a range of seminars and one-on-one advisory sessions to suit any business.