Tell me a little about you and your company.
All Fired Up In Florida provides hand-made functional art in kilns. This includes glass and clay media. I got started in this when I was barely 20 as a way to take a break from two teeny children one night a week for just a couple hours. My mom had a kiln and taught ceramics. She taught me some of the most important things I needed to know about the art. I find myself still calling her for advice to this day. I don’t do much ceramics, or slip-casting, but I do some because there is still demand for some of those old retro items or items that are easier to cast by mold than throw on a wheel or build from hand. I spend a large amount of time doing hand-building or creating pottery completely by hand or on a pottery wheel. In addition, I create fused glass items in the kiln. Nearly all of the items I make are functional for the home. I never get tired of what I do because there are so many different aspects and new areas to explore. I’m constantly experimenting with new techniques.
How long have you owned your own business?
I’ve been working at running my own business full time for about a year and a half now. Before that, I sort of played at this part-time on the weekends and when I could in the evenings since 2012.
What made you decide to start your own business?
With the close of my “real” job in corporate America that had me working 12 - 14 hour days and neglecting my family and friends. Rather than search for another one of those, I opted to do something I was passionate about. Something I really love. I love to create. It relaxes me and let’s me utilize my full being. All of my skills, not just the artistic skills. I also needed to pay for the materials to continue to create and I needed to find homes for the items I created. Lump all of this together and it only made sense to give it a go.
What was the best advice you received when you started your career?
I have two answers for this. First, if you are working for someone, never go to them with just a problem. You should always have a potential solution as well. No one wants to hear problem, problem, problem without ideas of how to fix.
Second answer is how I was raised. I was taught to work hard and through hard work, persistence and endurance you will succeed. I thank my dad for teaching me the right way to live.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started your business?
Many days are hard and you feel like you are not succeeding, you have to hang in there. Businesses that are overnight successes take a couple years to be an overnight success. It’s hard work and it takes organization and persistence. Keep at it.
What are the three skills that new entrepreneurs need in order to succeed?
Social Networking Skills (wish you had given me 5) :-)
What routines do you have in place to help your days run smoothly?
I go the post office first thing in the morning and then go directly to the studio and create. In the afternoons on most days, I do the computing/paperwork aspect of the work. The printing of shipping labels is done in the afternoons and evenings. I do a project plan for shows and keep a couple white boards for the impromptu notes like short term reminders - like which color fish spoon rests are out of stock and need to be created. I’m always working on one color or another of the fish spoon rests because of their popularity. I can be very driven at times, so it’s not unusual for me to be working in my studio late into the night creating or painting. My husband frequently comes out and asks me about stopping for the night.
How do you find balance as an entrepreneur?
Ha! I don’t believe I can answer that for you. Both my husband and I are self-employed and we both work more hours than we should and we both love what we do. I don’t see anything changing with that. We have one rule in our house. No one works on Sundays here. Sundays are for home life and each other.
What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
I came from corporate business life so I love everything about it. I can have pink hair, I have no one giving me business advice that I believe is poor advice that I must follow and forcing me to do work that I do not like and I do what I love every single day. My last show I set up my booth and looked out at palm trees and the Gulf of Mexico in 80 some degrees with soft breezes blowing and made money doing this. Can you believe this? What a wonderful life! I bring beauty into people’s life at an affordable price and I get hugs at my shows. How many jobs do you know where people show that kind of love? What an awesome job!
What do you do to unwind?
I play around with photography and read a lot. Just like in my work, I am driven. When I read a book, it’s usually a book a day. When I started taking photos, I joined groups to learn how to be better and read things to improve so that I didn’t look like a dope. I just ordered my first print to canvas for my wall.
What is a project that you are working on right now or just finished?
I wasn’t prepared for how well I would do during this year’s Christmas season and my inventory is quite low, so I’m currently working on building up the inventory. I’ll be doing a monthly show in Tarpon Springs, FL every first Friday. In addition, I recently put a few pieces in the 7 Arches Fine Art gallery in Dunedin, FL.
How can people get in touch with you?