This week's interview is with Penelope Duke. She is a ceramicist based in the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne in Australia. The pottery she makes is functional and practical, meant for use in everyday life. She's been in business only a couple of years, and admits she still has much to learn, but she graciously shared what she has learned so far.
I absolutely love the simplicity and organic nature of her pieces! Keep scrolling to take a look for yourself.
How did you get started in your industry?
I started a night class at a local pottery school one night a week where I was lucky enough to have Kevin Somerfield as a teacher. It was really hard waiting a whole week for the next lesson, but after about a year I was very fortunate to be gifted a wheel and kiln from a retired potter, so was able to set up my own studio at home.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere in the natural world. I like elegant form and simplicity, and that can be found everywhere, from the texture of bark to sand, and the shape of hills, shadow and light.
What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?
How many late nights I was in for!
What has been the most effective strategy for gaining new clients and selling more products?
My only marketing tool is Instagram. I have not had to look for clients, they have found me through that. I suppose that being such a visual business it is really easy for people to see exactly what I am offering just by looking at my page. I make sure that I have a cross section of my work on display on my Instagram page at all times.
What has been the best part of running your own business?
The freedom to keep being creative, and to allow my own ideas to form gradually. There are no restrictions on what I can and cannot do unless I put them there myself. Also the flexibility to work around my family.
There are no restrictions on what I can and cannot do unless I put them there myself.
What has been the most difficult part of running your own business?
As a mother I have found it a battle between wanting to be wholly there for my children, and wanting to throw everything into growing my business. It is such a juggle. Also finding that discipline to turn away visitors who might call in when I have set time aside to work, and putting my blinders on and just getting on with it when there are so many other things that would like my attention.
What goals do you have for your business in the next 5 years?
I would like to reach a point where I can be running a self-sufficient studio, and where my brand is recognised to the point that there is consistent work.