Julie Guyot Studio

handmade

Happy Anniversary To Us!

Julie Guyot
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In 2010 we built my tiny 10’x10’ studio in our backyard and I made one of a kind ceramic work that was shipped off to galleries and exhibited in the occasional show here and there. When we moved into a new house four years ago I decided to rent a studio away from home and then two years later I moved locations in the middle of a hurricane and power outage. In total, I’ve been paying rent for four years this month. I’ve written before about how increasing my overhead costs changed the way I work. I switched from one of a kind work to more production style, gift-able and functional ceramics that could be easily mixed and matched in the home. With the production style work came slightly lower price points and I have really enjoyed being in control of selling my own work whether that happens face-to-face in my brick and mortar showroom or online through my webshop.

 As I look ahead to the future and think about what is to come for my little ceramics business, there are so many thoughts swirling around my brain. This morning I said to my husband, “I guess it’s probably a miracle that I’ve managed to pay my rent and labor costs and overhead these last four years.” And he said, “No. It wasn’t a miracle. It was lots of hard work on your part.”

 He’s correct. It has been hard work on my part but also on the part of so many others. Most nights I come home exhausted and just want to put my feet up and my husband cooks our dinner. On Saturdays when I’m working, he’s doing the laundry so that we can spend our Sundays together without doing chores. Except during the holiday season when I’m also working Sundays. Just today he moved some shelves in the studio that are too heavy for me to lift. Not to mention a few months ago when I insisted that the entire 1000 sq. feet of baseboards in the studio needed caulking as a last stand against the ants and other unmentionables that had been trying to sneak in.  The man is a saint. Or a hard working economist who works for me on the weekend for peanuts.

 There have been others. A friend who showed up to help me re-paint the walls after mishaps that were beyond my control. Another friend who help me pick out planters and flowers and spent her day off re-arranging my showroom in preparation for the holidays. There are my artisan vendors who make me look good with their gorgeous handmade products. The friend who sneaked in and mowed my lawn before a big event.

 Most especially I appreciate you, my loyal customers. You continue to shop local and handmade. You bring your friends and parents and sisters. You show up right when I need you and I want to say thank you. Although the future is always unknown, I want to give you all a huge shout out. We’ve accomplished a lot over the last four years and that’s really something for all of us to be proud of.

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Hostess with the Mostest!

Julie Guyot
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Hostess Boxes/Bags!

Have you ever wanted to buy handmade gifts for a friend but just haven’t had the time to run around gathering everything together and wrapping it up? Maybe you’re a realtor and your clients just closed on their dream home. Maybe a friend needs a pick me up. Maybe you’ve been invited to a really great party and you don’t know what to bring for the hostess. I’ve got you covered!

I’ve put together three different price points for you to choose from and I’ll wrap them up nicely into a gift bag and deliver them anywhere in Tallahassee. Or if you live out of town, I’d be happy to ship them wherever you want in the U.S.

Add a gift card to any bag or box for an additional $4.50. I’ll even make out the card for you if you’d like.

Choose from three different levels of Hostess Boxes: The Essentials Box $30, The Mid-Size Box $50 or The Hostess with the Mostest Box $75.

In town delivery is done on Mondays and Fridays. Other arrangements to pick up at the studio can be made. I will choose the style of products included in the hostess boxes based on what I have in stock. If you’d rather choose your own patterns and color options, you are always welcome to come into the showroom and piece together the perfect gift on your own at regular showroom prices. I’ll be happy to help! All of the products you see in my showroom are handmade by artisans working in small batches. Most are local, some are regional and some are national makers.

This service will launch first to Julie Guyot Insiders on Facebook on Monday, October 9, 2017. (Join our group!) Public launch on Tuesday, October 10th! 

-Julie

Soul Crusher: My WWF Wrestling Name?

Julie Guyot
One wall of my showroom

One wall of my showroom

Every time I have a college intern working with me in my studio for the semester, I ask them to come up with 3-5 things that they would like to learn or talk about during the semester. These are usually questions pertaining to business and marketing or even gallery application processes or packing and shipping information.  I keep the questions within reach and try to make sure that every student is getting what they need or want to know in exchange for helping me in my studio. Then there are the little questions that come up in conversation throughout the day. Questions such as “How do you figure out how to make what sells without it totally crushing your soul?” Just light little questions.

It really is a good question and probably one that I need to reflect on occasionally just to check in with myself, and my soul. The easy answer would be to just say that I enjoy every aspect of all of the work that I make but that’s not really the truth. So here is the truth. Four years ago a friend told me that I should make some spoon rests because she wanted one. I told her that I would NEVER be making spoon rests. Guess what? Yep. I do have a few spoon rests floating around the showroom. They aren’t something that is on the website and I haven’t even had them professionally photographed but they are available for purchase. I even own one and I have to say that I do love it.

So, what happened in the last four years? Well, I started paying rent on a studio space instead of working from home. When I made the decision to pay rent I made the decision to completely change the way that I work and the products that I make and also who is in control of selling them. I stopped making one of a kind pieces and now focus primarily on production style work that is more easily re-produced in small batches.  I also hired a professional photographer to take the photos that would showcase the work online. I had never taken good photographs of my work and decided to budget for this task to be delegated and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. When I was making one of a kind work, every single piece had to be photographed but production style work really only has to be photographed one time so this keeps my costs down. When I stopped making one of a kind work I knew that this meant pulling out of national galleries and making my work available to a larger audience. Not just collectors or other ceramic artists but regular people who are interested in giving a handmade gift or using a handmade object in their homes. Again, this shifted my focus to smaller, more gift-able items with color palettes that could work well in many different homes.

I also changed my price points. This is not to say that I lowered the price of my work. I changed the work and the prices reflect those changes. I offer a wide variety of price points that depend on the labor intensity of the piece. Since I no longer sell in galleries, I am in charge of selling my work. This might mean a bit more marketing and promoting on my part but I sell directly through my website and I like the control that I have in doing that. I also make a few products that I sell wholesale to a limited number of shops. I no longer enter exhibitions, as this wasn’t something that I really enjoyed and am certainly not making work that is appropriate for those opportunities anymore.

Lastly, I have a large enough studio space that allows me to have a showroom for my own ceramic work as well as the work of several other artisans. I offer a local shopping experience for people in my area to find handmade products. It is a chance for me to meet people and feel connected to my community. I can talk about the process that goes into my pottery and show people that there are still some of us out there who do this work.

Of course there are times when I can take a break from production and make something fun or silly or more conceptual that feeds my soul. But I can honestly say that there isn’t anything that I make that crushes my soul. Trust me, I have had a lot of jobs in my life that were soul crushing.  Receptionist in a construction trailer in the parking lot of a coal plant: Definitely soul crushing. Owning my own business is really, really hard. But it’s mine. I learn something new every day. There are ALWAYS problems to solve and obstacles to overcome. There are days when people are rude or thoughtless. There are days with no sales. But it is never soul crushing. If I make a spoon rest, I make sure it’s the best darn spoon rest that I can. It’s original and fun and funky and definitely usable and it looks really good on my counter when I’m cooking my dinner at the end of the day.