Wipe Easy Tablecloths customer Siobhan Brennan runs Crazy Glazing in the seaside town of Youghal in East County Cork, Ireland.
She produces bespoke signature and presentation plates and runs a paint-your-own-pottery business, also working in schools, play schools, nursing homes and residential homes. We caught up with Siobhan to find out more about her business.
What inspired you to set up your business?
Art, calligraphy, doodling and arts'n'crafts have always been part of my life and, following a few holidays in South Wales, I experienced such fun in The Creative Cafe in Narberth - I thought I'd love to combine the two - ceramics and art and doodling ! The rest really is history.
I went on a course to learn about glazes and kilns and started out doing the signature plates and 18 months later opened the Paint Your Own Pottery shop - which is located in the upstairs of a lovely restaurant called Doyles. With the combination of Doyles and Crazy Glazing we do ceramic birthday parties with Doyles doing the yummy food.
I was displaying my signature plates in a shop window in our local town and I was approached by the local community committee to see if I could offer something for children to do in the town and for tourists coming into the area. I had wanted to set up a paint your own pottery studio but had thought that I wouldn't be able to do it for a few years - but it all just came together like it was meant to. The room above Doyles Restaurant was perfect in size and ambience. And so the shop opened in July 2012.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in working for yourself?
The biggest challenge in working for myself (and still trying to figure it out) is how to best advertise and spread the word of Crazy Glazing as advertising is sooooo expensive.
Tell us about a typical day – what does it involve?
My typical day is really planned from the night before - to see where I need to be the following day - in the shop or out and about. And then to plan it that I have all glazes and materials and tools required to have a stress-free and organised day (my OCD traits kicking in !!!) I love coming into contact with anyone coming to me to do with Crazy Glazing – because it’s all fun, they're pleased to see you, excited to learn how to paint the best possible way and the awe in their eyes when they collect their pieces after being fired in the kiln.
Have you had a ‘best moment’ in your pottery café?
A favourite moment? Oh gosh, there have been so many. The birthday parties in the shop. Sharing in the stories from couples who have had one of my signature plates for their wedding and the fun they've had.
One family told me that they had their best summer holiday in our town because they had come into paint every day. It had been a really wet summer - but the kids don't remember the rain – their mum tells me they remember the painting. I love seeing return visitors coming back to get another "creative fix". Tell me how could I NOT have so many good memories working with creativity?
One lovely story was when an American guy came in to the shop as I wanted to discuss the possibility of doing Braille writing on mugs. He loved being able to feel the texture of the pottery pieces - and how he made me laugh when I handed him a little pottery pig and when he held it and said -"They really have very large round bottoms don't they?"
How do customers hear about you?
Customers hear about me in various ways - word of mouth, through kids’ parties and at the events that my signature plates are for. I do flyers and distribute to the schools. I do group texts (as anyone who has been in with me for painting or plates - I get their mobile number) I use Facebook (but need to improve on this - I'm not the most techy person!!) I have used local radio and press also.
What does the future hold for your business?
The future looks very interesting, I must say - but I've always been an eternal optimist!! I would love to have 2 more shops open in the next 5 years. There is a very big project in the pipeline - but I don't want to jinx it by talking about it - so fingers crossed it all works out as it could be the turning point I've been working towards.
What advice would you give to other people thinking of working for themselves?
The main character traits I would feel you need in going it alone is (1) discipline (2) don't take things personally (3) be realistic (4) listen to all feedback - good or bad (5) set an advertising budget and stick to it !! (6) acquire the skills or employ someone to cover the skills you do not have (7) the ability to PRAY !!
How did you hear about Wipe Easy Tablecloths?
Wipe Easy Tablecloths? I was MEANT to find you!! I had never heard of you but landed on your website through a Google Search and then when I saw your tablecloth with the Paint Splashes on it I just couldn't believe my eyes. WOW - it was like it was made for me!
Had you used wipeable tablecloths before?
I have always used wipeable tablecloths in the shop but nothing as eye-catching as this one.
What do you like about our wipeable tablecloths?
My logo for my business is a paint splash so it’s like I have my logo on my tablecloths - they have become my signature really and everyone remarks on how colourful, fun and eye catching they are. If you saw my tablecloths you could guess the nature if my business! They are the perfect tablecloth for a "Paint Your Own Pottery" business.