Okay, so for those of you who follow me on FACEBOOK—I shared a sneak peak of this lovely post and mentioned I’d have an interview up with Emily Reinhardt from THE OBJECT ENTHUSIAST. Well, that day has come!
I’m so excited to share this with you for several reasons. The first reason being that Emily is very talented and deserves the spotlight. She found her calling and figured out a way to turn her dream into her career. Not only does she have a talent for making gorgeous homewares, but she’s intuitively great behind a camera and understands how to style her product shots. If you look at Emily’s instagram, you’ll see that she just has an eye for this sort of thing.
Second, I’ve become increasingly appreciative of small business owners and those who have the guts to take a risk and follow their dreams. It doesn’t happen enough! Third, I know how hard it is to quit your day job, but when I decided to take the leap, stories like Emily’s helped inspire and motivate me—which is why I’d like to share as many of these stories as I can on the blog.
The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.—Fabienne Fredrickson
Okay. So let’s get into the good stuff, shall we?
M: Your brand is picking up some serious attention. Did you open your shop with these expectations or did you start out thinking “this will be a fun side project”?
ER: When I opened my shop in 2011 I was really just trying to get rid of the things I made in undergrad. After I started fulfilling a few orders, I started getting more excited, and I realized I had found my calling. New work started to develop when I was able to start building a studio with a wheel and a kiln. I really never dreamed I’d be doing what I’m doing, but all of the sudden this became my dream!
M: How many ‘objects’ do you make in order to fulfill your shop orders on a weekly basis?
ER: It’s different every week – and after just getting finished with my first holiday season, it seemed like a lot! My usual weekly focus is to get two kiln loads each week. One bisque fired wares and the other glazed. With each glaze kiln, I can usually get about 30 vases and several ring dishes too.
M: You work is very organic and gold accents play a key role in your work (which I love!). What inspires your designs?
ER: The use of the gold polka dots kind of started on accident. I had a vase with a glaze blemish that needed to be covered, and gold leaf seemed like a good option. After that, my designs and work just started to develop into something, I can’t really think of any one thing that inspired them. Now I’m always looking for new objects to sculpt, and new glaze colors to play with. That is one of my favorite parts, picking out the colors and seeing them come out of the kiln for the first time.
M: What’s your vision for The Object Enthusiast/How do you see your brand evolving?
ER: I’d love to evolve into other projects, maybe some collaborations with other artists. Finding time for new work is always tricky, but it’s very important. I hope to grow my blog back up, and continue to improve my photographs and digital work as well. I have so many projects and ideas in mind, but so little time to address them! Right now it’s all about clay, and I’m okay with that!
M: How long has your shop been open and when did you start picking up major traction?
I opened my shop in 2011, but things just started picking up in September of 2013. I was a featured seller on Etsy, which really changed everything.
M: Besides selling on Etsy, do you sell your items in any retail stores or online boutiques?
ER: Quite a few! I sell mostly in the US with one online boutique out of Montreal. I’m working on getting some of my wares to Australia this winter too!
M: What’s your process like when you design a new piece? Do you keep a sketchbook or just dive right it?
ER: I dive right in. I’m not much of a planner. I just get an idea in my head and run with it. Usually it takes a few tries, but sometimes it comes out right on the first try.
M: Where is your workspace located and what does it look like at this very moment!?
ER: Right now my workspace is in my basement, I have great light, but share the space with the laundry room. Clean laundry and a ceramics studio don’t mix too well! I love getting to work at home – I get to spend the day with my dog, on my own terms at my house! But someday I’d love a studio space outside of the home. A shared art space with other designers would be ideal. I miss human interaction most days!
M: How do you stay on top of orders, do you have some sort of organized process?
ER: As soon as an order comes in, I make note of what process the order is in. Is it fully made yet? Needing glaze still? Not made at all? I have a wall above my main work station where I hang the purchase orders and wholesale orders that need to make it out. I usually arrange them in the order of priority. So far, so good, but I could always stand to be a little more organized.
M: Name a few mass homeware retailers that you’d DIE to sell your collections in (ie. Anthro, West Elm, Etc)?
ER: I’d love to get into the big ones, but truly I’m more interested in the small intimate shops. Utilitarian Workshop in Kansas City, Missouri is one of my favorites. Sword + Fern in Portland, Oregon is pretty amazing too. Those smaller shops speak to me and what I’m all about.
M: OK, what’s your secret sauce!?
ER: Well, booze always helps, but a positive atmosphere with room to explore is really the best thing for me. Believing in myself to the very core is the most important part.
M: Are you sick of going to the post office and are you friends with everyone on staff??
ER: When I walk into the post office now, most of the employees there say “uh oh, here comes trouble!” Some days I really don’t feel like going, but the people who work at my post office are the best! They take care of me and the packages I mail out, and that’s important to me.
M: Lastly, do you have any advice for other Etsy sellers/small business owners?
ER: I just promised myself I wouldn’t give up on what I wanted. I wanted to make and sell my work full time. I never thought I’d get there as fast as I did, but sometimes the stars align and the moment is just right and everything falls into place. With a bunch of hard work, and knowing when it was time to really devote my whole self to what I was making.
What do you think of Emily’s story? Inspiring right?