Artist: Lily Wikoff Stratton
Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Web site: Lily Pottery
Blog: Lily Pottery
What do you create?
Lily Pottery consists of several segments all related by medium, clay. I have created and developed a line of hand stamped porcelain wearable art. All of my stamps are hand-carved and “one-of-a-kind”. My collection of jewelry includes necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings. I also have a children’s line called “little lily”. Little Lily is made up of hair accessories for sweet little girls as well as smaller versions of necklaces to match “mommy”. The final facet of Lily Pottery is my wheel thrown line of pottery. My pottery line consists of pottery citrus reamers, bundt cake pans, mugs, plates, vases and so much more!
When and why did you decide to start your business?
After working for a year marketing for a company in the corporate world, I decided it was time to put my degree in 3-D Studio Art and market my own product. I quit my job last April and dove right in to being a “full-time artist”.
Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
My love for nature inspires me to create. I am in love with the simple elements in found nature. The soft and organic lines of the petals in my flower garden and the knobby pecan trees growing in my back yard. The colors that splash across the sky and paint the clouds just before the sun sets over the foothills to the north of my house. The vibrant hue of my poppies on the rise in the field. I also glean inspiration from my artist friends, whether it’s online or my studio partner creating away in the space next to me. I love to soak up all the creative energy of other artist friends around me at gallery openings and shows and visually online via blogs and websites.
Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
It’s a tough call… but it’s between my clay and hand carved stamps.
What keeps you motivated?
Being able to get up every day and go to work in my studio doing something I love. It may be twice as many hours as the job I had working 8-5 in the corporate world, but I love watching something with my name attached to it, my finger prints all over it and many hours of my work into it, grow and become a successful business keeps my trucking! It is also very motivating to hear how customers who’ve purchased from me come back to my studio and tell me how happy they are with their “lily pottery”.
How do you get the word out about your work?
I have a website. I blog.—the internet is a HUGE resource for marketing I have found. I try to self-promote through print advertising whenever I have a show. I have postcards and business cards in every local coffee shop and community bulletin board every time I have a show. I take every opportunity to slap that lily pottery logo all over town! Also, I network with small new businesses in my town whenever possible, and collaboration with other businesses, charitable organizations, and other artists is a great way to get the word out, not to mention it’s so great learn from other small business owners.
What is your main goal for the next 6-12 months?
To develop a catalogue of my products and begin to expand my customer base by wholesaling.
What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Be passionate about what you’re doing. If you are willing to throw yourself into something and work as hard as you possibly can to make it successful, it will happen. Don’t be afraid to just get out there and try. Never be intimidated by the size of your business. Take it serious and be proud of your work. Believe in your product and do be afraid to just go for it!
What’s the most important thing you’d like people to know/understand about your work?
Each piece is hand crafted. The only machine used when making my products is my kiln to glaze fire my pieces. Each pendant is hand cut out of a slab of clay and hand stamped. I sign the back of every pendant just as I do every pot I make.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned while running your business?
It’s HARD WORK, but oh-so satisfying. I never really knew what all went into “running a business” but I’m still learning every day, and it’s an amazing journey!
If you had the time, what new craft/medium would you like to learn or use? I would love to delve into screen-printing and textiles!
What's your definition of a perfect day?
I pretty much live my perfect days now! I’m living my dream come true by having my own studio, creating a product I love. Not every day is “peaches and cream” but on a perfect day, I’d wake up, have some really good strong coffee. Get down to the studio early and create jewelry all morning, break for lunch, then throw at my wheel all afternoon. Come home. Have a good hard run. Enjoy dinner with my amazing hubby. Sleep sound that night, then wake up the next day and do it all over again!
Thank you Lily!