From Professor to Proprietor | Brian Giniewski | Episode 307

Brian Giniewski | Episode 307

Brian Giniewski is a Philadelphia-based potter who works primarily with boutiques and design shops across the US and beyond. Over the last year Brian has been working full-time in the studio and thinking of his practice as a small business which feeds Brian’s artistic curiosity while meeting the demands of the market.



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What kind of sacrifices have you made to make your ceramic business successful?

I think having to choose one thing that we got really, really good at, rather than scattering my efforts across a number of different styles or different approaches. It was a major change to have to say we are putting our eggs all in one basket right now, in order to build this up.

What do you feel is your next step in developing your business?

Focusing more on international sales is what I am working on right now.

When you are looking to bring someone into your studio as an employee, what are the traits you look for?

I really like people that are outspoken who are able to jump right into a task without a lot of handholding. And people who have demonstrated they are really looking to learn.

Are you surprised at how much salesmanship you need to have in order to do what you do?

Yes, absolutely. There are some days where I don’t even get to touch material because I am spending the whole day on the phone or emailing back and forth. I think this is one of the real sacrifices of doing a lot of wholesale business. It requires a lot of one on one interaction with those wholesale partners. They want to feel like they are being listened to and catered to and of course I want to do that for them, but man that is a lot of time that you are not touching clay.

Tell me about a sale that you were going for that you lost.

We get approached by some stores that after I sort of email back and forth or on the phone and send my line sheet and wholesale specs and rules, I get really excited that they are going to place an order and then they just disappear. I will follow up and just never hear anything back from them. So I don’t have one specific one in mind but it is so funny when someone will reach out and be very excited about my work and I jump right to the email and tell them everything about what they need to do to place the order and it’s just crickets. I have tried to automate that as much as possible with an email and an ordering process that is just very easy for me to send to new people.

Tell me about yourself, what are you doing to improve yourself, to make you better?

For the first time in my life I have a real work-life balance. When I was in higher-ed I would be teaching during the day and I would have to spend all night and every week-end in the studio to try to squeeze in time to make my own work. Even though the demands of the business have gotten pretty intense, I am really making sure that I cut it off at a certain point at night. I go in and work from 10-6 and I try my very best not to try to stay later than that. So that has been a huge improvement.

Make a sales pitch. I am one of your prospective wholesale customers. Convince me to buy your work.

I think so much of that goes back to the demographics we were talking about earlier. You really put me on the spot. I am having a hard time with this. You have clammed me up for the first time in an hour. I think this is why I rely on wholesale so much, I like other people giving the pitch.

If you could have $500 or learn a new skill, which would you take and why?

Absolutely the new skill every time. I feel like that is what I live for. Learning how to do something new or learning how to do something a little bit better or just think about a problem in a different way is absolutely what gets me out of bed every morning.


Power Vegetables by Lucky Peach


Instagram: @brianginiewski

Brian’s Kickstarter

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