Holy moly, you’re a nurse practitioner, a wife and Mom of three boys, three dogs, cats, four ducks named Mike, a few chickens aaaaand you still manage to find time to run a thriving business with your gorgeous ceramics. HOW on earth do you manage it and who’s in your corner for support?
I try to stay in each moment – with the kids in the mornings getting ready for school, at the office or in the studio. And I go to bed early and wake up early. That early morning time to myself keeps me grounded during my days. My family are an amazing source of support, encouragement and inspiration. They are my cheering squad and provide honest feedback (sometimes brutally honest) about everything from dinner to a new style of tableware I am working on. The boys are flexible if I am working late in the studio and they are also fully committed to the activities they love. Any feeling of tiredness or overwhelm I may have, disappears when I see one of my boys wake up at 4:45am to go swimming before school. I’m reminded that our family culture is to do what you love and give it 110 percent. I draw myself back into the moment and breathe – usually works!
There is something very special about holding a piece of your pottery. Each one actually feels really good to use, each one has a personality. Is this something you’re aware of when you create them? Is it part of the process?
There is intent behind creating each piece. Some love and thoughtfulness goes into the creation, the shape, weight, how the rim will feel when sipping coffee, or how the spoon will slide across a bowl. I think some of that intent translates into the finished product and that is what people are drawn to.
Can you tell us the story about why/when Buttata came to be?
I have been practicing ceramics for almost 25 years but didn’t sell one piece of pottery until 2016. My close friend bet my husband I could sell my pottery... and that was it... I started selling and there was an overwhelmingly positive response. My husband bought me a kiln as a gift, production increased organically, and soon things evolved into a thriving small business. And I learned that when given the appropriate time and space, my creative fire emerges.
Now I can’t imagine not paying attention to that part of who I am. Somehow through the evolution of Buttata I have also learned more about myself, my true nature and where I can create joy in my world.
Was there a memorable ‘Buttata’ moment when you thought “Yes, I’ve made it!”
I almost deleted an email from a well-known Vancouver restaurant. Initially, I thought it was spam because it was asking about getting in touch with someone from my ‘team’. They had contacted me about making plates. I met with the chef in his busy kitchen and I had my ceramics spread out, and he looked genuinely impressed with the design and quality. I thought, “oh ok, these are unique and special in some way.”
But it’s been a mental shift for me and I am still a bit shy and surprised that people are so gracious and positive about my work. In my mind I am a mother and a maker, doing what I love to do in a garage that has evolved into a studio.
Was there a time after launching your business that you considered bailing on it?
Nope not one single day. I need to work with clay like I need to breathe and sleep and exercise. Sometimes I consider scaling back or shifting focus of what I am producing, but only in response to making sure I am feeling happy and fulfilled. I want to do what is best for me and my family, and part of that is creative expression. How that creative expression looks may change, and maybe I’m just stubborn, but no I don’t consider bailing. If anything I have so many ideas and things I want to try, and I just move through the seasons and work hard to express and share my experiences.
What is the one lesson you’ve learned from your craft – a little potter’s wheel wisdom?
I cannot create if I am feeling sad and grieving. Life happens and sometimes it’s important to take a break and regroup and give some time to your feelings. It doesn’t work for me to ignore them and try and plow ahead. It’s not honest and my ceramics require an honest process. How I am feeling comes through in the clay.
What advice would you give someone at a career crossroad, perhaps someone who was contemplating taking a leap into something that they’ve wanted to do for a long time?
Try it. Even if it means you work all weekend (which I often do) it doesn’t have to be one thing or the other thing. People have many facets and it’s ok to do more than one thing.
Can you tell us about your most memorable advice and how if affects you still?
My grandmother was from a farming family in South Dakota. She had eight children and was a school teacher and made the most amazing cookies. She told us to work hard and be kind. That is the mandate that I try to live by.
OK, here’s your soapbox. What would you like to shout about?
Focus on yourself, your own health and happiness, and the rest will fall into place. I have learned that if I am healthy and operating from a place of strength I am a way better parent; my voice is strong if I need to advocate for change in some areas of my life; and I have more to offer. So keep the focus on yourself which is way easier said than done. Sometimes it’s a minute-by-minute practice.