How Grace & Sow Came To Be

I wanted my first blog post to be about how this business started and how it turned into what it is today. It's been about six years since I began this journey and a whirlwind of adventures and opportunities have happened along the way. That said, please bear with me as it may turn out to be somewhat of a long story. I do hope you'll find some enjoyment in it, though!

I guess I'll begin by rewinding to my sophomore year of high school when I took my very first ceramics class. It was a semester long class and I was hooked the very moment I touched clay. To this day, I vividly remember thinking, at just 15 years old, that I wanted to work with clay in some capacity as a career when I was older. Fast forward to 2016, I graduated with a BFA in Ceramics from The Cleveland Institute of Art, still set on working with clay but also majorly feeling the pressures of needing to have a 'real job'. Because of these pressures, I convinced myself into graduate school to obtain a degree/licensure in special education. There was about a six month time period after my college graduation where I had no intentions of starting my own pottery business. I was certain that I wanted to get a master's degree in special education so that I could be an intervention specialist and work on my art in my spare time. I had a dream since I was 15 years old that I crushed almost instantly because of irrational fears of not being successful as an artist in today's day and age. Since then, I attempted to go to graduate school three different times and I am now convinced that it was simply never meant to be.

During the summer of 2016 when I first began my six month hiatus from clay, I worked as a camp counselor at a special needs camp. I then began substituting for educational aides in schools around the area and eventually made my way into a full-time position. As time came to pass, I felt more and more out of sync with my decision to become an intervention specialist. I would go to work each day wanting the time to go by faster and I would feel unfulfilled by day's end. I was constantly feeling out of place, unaccomplished, and tired. I knew I had to make a change.

In the midst of working full-time in late 2016, my dad passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly. While I miss him dearly and think of him often, I truly believe that his passing is what pushed me to go back to my roots that were so obviously grounded in clay. I needed a creative outlet to cope with his loss, so I decided to set up a small studio space in my mom's basement. I bought a $200 kiln off of Craigslist, invested in a brand new pottery wheel, opened an Etsy shop, and began making small things. My business name started out as AE Ceramics, then changed to Aesthete Ceramics (which a handful of you may be familiar with), and finally to Grace & Sow Ceramic, which you can learn more about on the About page.

It was a very slow-going process at first, but I eventually got into a pretty solid routine of spending an hour or two in my studio everyday after work. I was eventually able to crank out enough pieces for my very first Etsy update. I was very excited and confident in what I had created and I seemed to be getting decent interest on Instagram. I had very high expectations, truly believing that I would sell out within the first week. As the update came and went, so did the first week, month, months... with only a few orders every now and then. However, the few orders a month ended up working out with my full-time job. I was able to update my shop every 8 weeks or so without feeling too overwhelmed. 

I decided that I was going to work as hard as I could to eventually become a full-time studio potter. To this day, I’m still working part-time between a day job and my studio. It's not easy nor anywhere near perfect, but I feel so incredibly blessed to look back and see just how far this business has come, as it is truly a gift from God.

I often reflect on my past struggles and growth of this business. I scoff at past ideas and pieces that I thought were amazing once upon a time. I feel silly now when I think of how I used to present myself on Instagram trying to make a name for myself. I hate thinking of all the pieces that I thought would sell but instead collected dust on my shelves for months on end. When I so often feel discouraged of my failures, I am also reminded of the constant determination that has risen from those very failures. Once a new collection is created, I begin thinking about how I can make the next one better. I have learnt to start again if a piece is not meeting my standards instead of making it work and hoping for the best. I now strive for quality craftsmanship rather than settling for subpar work. Running a creative business comes with endless discouragements but not once have I wanted to give up. God has graced me with patience and strength to keep going despite the hardships. I will trust in His perfect plan for me and this little business of mine. I urge those of you who are feeling as I often do to be patient and trust in the process, for your time will come.

"Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care
Not a blast of hurry, touch the Spirit there.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed
Finding as He promised
Perfect peace and rest."

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