Marianne Tolosa | Episode 206
Marianne Tolosa is a ceramic Artist living and working in Northern Virginia. Marianne makes functional, whimsical, wheel-thrown, and hand-built pottery! Marianne’s background is in oil painting -> teaching english overseas -> interior design -> coffee -> graphic design -> pottery. A very round about creative route!
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What’s been the best platform for building a business?
I would say Instagram for me. I’ve built a large community of friends on Instagram. Like actually people I interact with regularly. I essentially have a pen pal in France now. Just the community has been incredible. And they kind of do gorilla marketing for you. You send them a mug that they like and pay for, they post a picture of them with coffee, and I get more followers. That’s one way I’ve expanded my reach just on Instagram.
What would you attribute your success to the most?
I don’t consider my self to be successful yet because I’m still making part time money doing this. Then again I think part of my success is in the freedom my husband gives me and being able to be creative everyday. And his constructive criticism has lead to big changes in my pottery. It sounds corny, but my husband has been the corner stone of me feeling successful. He’s so supportive. He helped me get my first kiln. He helped me get my wheel. He helped me set up my studio. He ran the electric to the garage so I could hook up my kiln. A lot of my success has been from him and his support.
How important is goal setting to you?
Not that important. I just fly by the seat of pants. Like I said with my website I wil like ‘oh I’m going to do this. So I just did it.’ So the answer to your question is not very at all.
Then how do you know if you’re getting things done?
How many hours do I spend in the studio…I don’t know! If my shelves fill up and I have enough to fire a kiln every month I feel like I’m getting stuff done.
Why do people buy your work?
That’s such a good question. Who even knows? It has a certain whimsy to it I think. I think Japanese cultural is a large influence in my work. I mean I lived there for two years. Just their whole Kawaii cultural which means ‘cute stuff’, polka dots, pinks, red, blue, stripes, little creatures. That kind of stuff. I think that my work doesn’t appeal to everyone, but the people it appeals to it really appeals to.
What risks does your business face?
Probably the biggest risk in wholesale was losing myself and my creativity. Holding on to yourself and the stuff you like to make is more important than just making stuff you can sell. So risking losing myself and my creativity.
How do you go about getting repeat business from the same customers?
I think a lot of that goes into packaging and personality. I make sure I use fun packaging that matches my pottery. Polka dots or scalloped bright pink paper. I’ll put in a hand written note or freebies. Like if I made a ton of really tiny bud vases and it’s someone who’s bought three mugs in the last two months I’ll stick it in and be like ‘hey you deserve something.’ I think letting people know you appreciate them will create repeat business.
If you were to create a podcast what would it be called and what would it be about?
It would be called the ‘Lipstick Campaign’. I already have a podcast. I have a podcast with my friend Tara. There’s lots of giggling and talking about pottery and we interrupt each other a lot. We are both pretty dominant female people who talk a lot. But it’s about Christianity and women.
Marianne Tolosa is a ceramic Artist living and working in Northern Virginia. Marianne makes functional, whimsical, wheel-thrown, and hand-built pottery! Marianne’s background is in oil painting -> teaching english overseas -> interior design -> coffee -> graphic design -> pottery. A very round about creative route!B