My situation was unique because I didn't start a new studio but bought an existing business. Connie was a lifesaver in helping me with how to organize my thoughts, marketing and of course, the day to day of glazing and firing. She was also extremely valuable when I decided to move my studio to a new location. Her experience with leases, appropriate locales and the industry as a whole is unmatched! Now it's 10 years later and even though I'm an established studio, I can still call Connie with any issues or even just to bounce ideas off of her. Thanks, Connie!
Painted By You
I couldn't have started my business without the expertise of Connie Speer. It was the best investment I've ever made and 19 years later I still consider Connie a good friend and confidant. Her personal knowledge of the ceramic industry especially in the contemporary field is the best in the business as far as I'm concerned. She thinks of all the things you wouldn't even consider. The continued success of my business has a lot to do with the foundation I started with Connie's guidance. I don't think I'd be where I am today without her. She was my safety net when I needed it the most. You can't get that kind of help by just reading a book. She's already done the research for you. If I had to do it over again I'd hire Connie in an instant. She's the best!
I COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT THE POTTERY CONSULTANT!
Imagine opening a studio and sitting around doing crafts all day and showing customers how to create masterpieces. Imagine going to work and having no stress at all because you get to do art all of the time!
That would be ideal, however, opening a paint-your-own-pottery studio is not just about finding a spot, bringing in some bisque and paints and then customers just show up and love it as much as you do. Opening a studio does not happen just because you love to paint pottery, do mosaics, or play with clay. It is a business just as anything else, and there is so much involved in the process.
I was overwhelmed with the thought of starting a business on my own. Where do I begin? I did some research and found Connie, The Pottery Consultant. I already knew I wanted to do this. I was determined and dedicated. I met with Connie and became even more determined. I knew that I did not have to do this alone. I still questioned my idea and this whole plan. Could I do this? Connie never sugar-coated anything and always said what I needed to hear, good and bad. She wants you to succeed. She, herself, is determined and dedicated to her business as I am with mine. She was with me the whole way through the process, and still is. And I’m confident she will be there as my business grows. I also continue to get support from the Pottery Consultant team. Everyone cares and is willing to offer suggestions and ideas to help the business become successful.
I now work more hours than I have ever worked, worry more about my job, have more stress on the job than I ever have, yet, couldn’t be happier with my decision. It is fulfilling to stand back and look at what you have created, see your studio alive with people and watching your own success unravel before your eyes. So, I end this the same way I began:
I COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT THE POTTERY CONSULTANT!
The Bisque House
When I decided I wanted to become a paint your own pottery studio owner, I did a lot of research. I had already fallen in love with the concept as a customer, so I just needed to figure out what was involved, how other studio owners got started, and what it would take for me to get up and running. I met with, or spoke with quite a few studio owners, visited studios, and asked a lot of questions. I took a couple of classes held by the Small Business Administration, used their counseling services and got some help putting my plans in place. I even got a loan and started looking for a space for my new business.
And then I met Connie. I had done so much of my "homework" on my own, and had a pretty good grip on how to get started, however, I soon learned that this consulting package was the clincher in my plan. After considering cost vs. value of a consultant, I decided to go forward with it, and everything took off.
So many times, potential studio owners will ask me what I would do differently. I have to say, that of course I've made mistakes, but almost every one has brought with it a lesson and a more thorough understanding that I would not trade for the world. If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely work with Connie to get me started BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE. Even though I had done my own research, there was no way for me to know all the nuances of starting and running this type of business until I found myself neck deep in it. Connie was there to let me know a lot of those things in advance, and help me get through them and prepare for the next ones. She has been there for me with such support and encouragement. She brings such value to the table, having worked in the industry for so long and worked with so many studios. It's not just about pep talks, either! She equips her customers right up front with marketing plans, timelines, budget and forecasting, etc. She is also prepared and willing to help with analysis of the business and offers suggestions and plans of attack to get things on track if you need it.
I still can call Connie with questions. I know she is always willing to help me and make sure my problem is solved or that I'm comfortable enough to move forward. I'm not paying for that at this point, but I know my best interest continues to be important to her. When I have a new idea to kick around, or have some weird thing come out of the kiln, I know I can call Connie and she'll be available for me. Just knowing there's someone there for me is priceless.
Julie Jones - Art’s Afire
Finding Connie Speer to assist me in opening my paint your own pottery studio has truly been a Godsend! Connie's experience, thoroughness, and one-step-at-a-time guidance is unparalleled in the industry, and have proven to be an invaluable asset in this exciting journey. She has answered every question, capably addressed every issue that's sprung up along the way, and has helped pave a smooth path to my new studio. Connie, thank you for helping my pottery dreams come true. Connie - You are a kick-ass consultant -- perfect in every way, and I always knew I could contact you with any questions or problems way after I opened, but I was so well prepared (by you!) that I really rarely needed to do that. Before I met you, I had spent 3 days in ______ consulting with ______, I took ________ 2-day course, went to a 2 day camp, and took the new-studio training at ______, but nothing, and no one, can compare to consulting with you. They explain the business, give you some materials, and send you on your way. They'll answer questions after the fact, of course, for a short time. But the way you walked me through every facet of every step of opening the business, in live time, was unique and infinitely more valuable than the "consulting" that anyone else provided (and I actually used them all, so I am a very good source of comparison).Â You broke down a very complex, intimidating process into manageable bites. Focusing on "one step at a time", as we did, and breaking the process down into do-able segments, made it less overwhelming. (It was still complicated and exhausting, of course, but was MUCH less stressful than it would have been otherwise.)
I decided to open a paint your own pottery studio nearly twenty years ago and fortunately met Connie at my first convention in Dallas. In fact, it was the most valuable resource I found. Starting a new business is difficult enough. To have someone guide you through the ordering and set up of products, colors and equipment is so significant. I believe Connie was the first to develop consulting and customized 'Start-up packages' and most importantly they come with Connie's personal service and unlimited advice and enthusiasm. I have called Connie throughout the years with questions on products and advice in regards to my business and am able to reach her promptly and I am always well received, even if it is not financially beneficial to her. Connie along with her mom Pat are always fun & familiar faces at convention and are still going strong for a reason!
Sincerely, Nancy King
That Pottery Place
I am getting ready to celebrate our 19th year in business. Connie was a major force in the success of my business. She has always been accessible to our business, and even 19 years later I can call her for advice. Connie can help from site selection and working with landlords to electricians. Her business and marketing advice is sound, and she has years of experience in the ceramic industry. I recommend her highly!
I just wanted to take a minute to let you know how much I appreciate all of your help. You have become an invaluable resource for my business and me. You are always just a quick phone call or e-mail away when I have technical questions or business ideas, and your advice is always right on. You possess such a vast knowledge of the ceramics industry and the business world that I know I can always count on your expertise when I need it. I appreciate your openness, honesty and straight-forward answers to my many questions. The one thing that probably impresses me the most about you and your company is the way that you answer my questions on an individual basis. You always take the time to find out exactly what my concerns are before offering your advice. I always know that you are tailoring your advice and recommendations to what my needs are at the time. It is so nice to know that I have you in my corner. Finally, I can't say enough about how impressed I am with the speed in which your company processes and ships my orders. I would recommend you to anyone who operates a paint your own pottery studio or a home-based ceramics business. I can honestly say that my business has definitely changed for the better since I found your company.
Thank you again for all of your help. I feel very lucky to have found you.
When I opened my studio 7 years ago, I hired Connie as a consultant. The information she provided me with was priceless. Although I had business experience, I had never glazed a piece of ceramic, nor worked with a kiln. Quite frankly, I did not even know the difference between greenware and bisque. Connie guided me step by step on how to glaze and stilt a piece and then how to fire a kiln. She guided me in the right direction as where to order quality bisque and supplies, and then she proceeded to show me how to market the bisque in my studio. When I think back to my opening costs, there are two things that I refer to as my "best investments," one is my pair of Paragon Dragon Kilns and the other is Connie Speer.
Artsy Fartsy Studio, LLC
I couldn't imagine not having Connie Speer’s help when I opened my studio. I had no idea about the contemporary studio industry when I met Connie. She taught me everything from start to finish from what bisque & supplies to order, to glazing and firing the kiln. It is wonderful to know that after all these years she is just a phone call away if I have any questions or need anything. In April '09 we will be open nine years, without her amazing customer service and knowledge of the industry there is no doubt in my mind that we wouldn't be here today.
Connie - It always blows me away how helpful you are and how much I can still count on you after all these years. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather have had help me open and you are always the first person I think of if I have any problems I need help with or questions I need answered. I know you are always here for me if I need you. That to me is the most comforting thing about our relationship...and probably what has gotten me through all these years! YOU'RE THE BEST CONNIE!!!
I want to thank you for all of your help with opening our paint your own pottery studio. We are so thankful that we found you! On a professional level, your advice and input has been immeasurable. One of the greatest ways it has been helpful was with the business plan. The banks were very impressed with the thoroughness of our business plan and it has been an excellent tool to look back on. Another tool that has been immeasurable are the binders that you put together. I read them from front to back and continue to go back and pull new ideas from it all of the time! On a personal level, it has been comforting to be able to glean from your wisdom in this profession. I do not feel pressured to do as you suggest, but am able to use your input and experience to make better educated decisions. That has been invaluable to me. Thank you for all of your support. Truly,
After hours of tireless research on the Internet on paint your own pottery studios, I was beginning to get frustrated with what was out there. My business partner, Lynda and I decided that this is what we wanted to do, but were not really sure where to start. I decided to do one last Internet search and I landed on The Pottery Consultant’s Website. I was so excited, I called Lynda right away and said ‘I think I found the way to go!’ After our first phone session with Connie Speer, we were amazed at her knowledge on, not only the paint your own pottery industry, but the business world, as well. She has advised us on all aspects of our new business, from lease negotiation down to fixtures for the studio, training, marketing and that is just the tip of the iceberg. We started with her in late January and were able to open our doors for business the beginning of May. We would never have been able to get where we are without the help from Connie. Her support, advice and compassion to see her clients succeed truly sets her apart from the rest. It has been the best and most important decision we have made in this journey in starting our own business!
Tina Roberts & Lynda Joyce
Connie Speer helped me begin my journey of opening a paint your own pottery studio in mid 2004. With her tremendous help and expertise, I believe she probably saved me at least 6 months worth of headache, hair-pulling and mind-boggling research. From formulating the business plan to the detailed start-up bisque orders, paint orders and marketing plan, she was a tremendous wealth of information. She also provided the needed support when studio and customer issues arose that I was not sure how to handle. Her consulting services are money well spent!
Earth Paint and Fire
Connie Speer is awesome. When I first decided to open a paint your own pottery studio, I didn't know where to begin. Then I met Connie. She made the whole process so smooth and easy that I was able to do it in only three months! She's very knowledgeable, helpful and flexible with her schedule. And even after I opened my studio, she continued to check on me and help out with any issues or concerns. I can't imagine how I would have successfully opened a studio without her.
Hands On Art Studio
My partner and I decided to open up a Paint Your Own Pottery studio and we were basically clueless on where and when to begin. We came across the web site and decided to check out their credentials by contacting other Contemporary Ceramic Studios already in business across the country. We found that the positive feed back these studios had to give us about the consulting was very impressive. We talked with them extensively and then decided to hire Connie Speer to help pave the road as we began our journey down the path of opening up "Spirit of Clay". Connie was there for us every step of the way. We can't imagine having done it without her. We are soon to be approaching five years in business and Connie is a staple in our lives, always just a phone call away, whether it be for a ceramic problem, ordering of product or a friendly voice for much needed support when a studio crisis comes up.
Update - I don't know if I told you we signed a new lease. We are very happy and growing more and more every month. Kathy and I just think you were the best with using opening our studio. You were always there day or night, work or home. I have always told people when talking about our consultant, I know we could have done it without you because we had such a passion to open the studio.....BUT BUT BUT you made it 120 times easier and faster. The knowledge you hold is amazing and we will be forever grateful to you. You are the best in our eyes and here we are are close to knowing you for five years and we still have a relationship with you and you still are just an e-mail away from helping us and guiding us through our problems. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You are the best,
Kathy Hess & Kelly Strah
Spirit of Clay
We contacted Connie Speer when we first thought about opening an arts and crafts studio. Knowing little about the contemporary ceramics industry, we found Connie to be enormously helpful in every aspect of developing our business. She provided a business plan and helped us fill in the details. She worked with us to develop a startup budget and cash flow projections. She provided tremendous amounts of information from how to market the business to what kinds of brushes to buy to how to load and fire the kilns, and everything in between. Despite the fact that we are in Austin and she is in Fort Worth, we had an extremely smooth working relationship. We established regular conference calls and communicated by e-mail. We never felt out of touch, and whenever we had a question, no matter how minor, Connie was extremely prompt in answering it. Nearly four years later, Connie still checks in with us, forwards interesting industry information, and responds to our questions promptly. We have realized a return on our consulting investment and then some. We would recommend her and her consulting services without hesitation.
Connie Speer was a lifesaver for me when I decided to open a paint your own pottery/contemporary studio in Ormond Beach, Florida. From the creation of my business plan to where to put the sink to what kind and how many brushes to buy, every bit of her guidance and advice was right on the money. Connie's marketing strategies are very effective and when I use them I can see an increase in sales. Connie was up front right from the very beginning about how much commitment and work this business requires, and she was right about that too. You will put a great deal of energy into getting your business up and running. Having the expertise and ongoing support of Connie to rely on and knowing exactly what products and materials you will need to be successful are half the battle. Being trained on the phone earns you bragging rights later when everyone asks how you learned all this stuff. Everyone will think you are incredibly smart and brave, and guess what? If you pull it off and are successful, you ARE incredibly smart and brave! Thanks Connie! You have helped make us here at Mud Monkey Pottery and Art Studio the IT place to be in Ormond Beach!
By the end of my first conversation with Connie Speer, I knew I had made the most important business decision regarding opening a new studio. The information she provided during the next couple of months was everything I needed to help successfully open the studio on schedule. From day one she was my guardian angel. Helping with my business plan, giving advice on dealing with the banks, negotiating the lease, design ideas for my studio space, finding kilns, paints, brushes, bisque, and all the many other supplies I would need. Knowing she will always be there for me whenever I have a question puts this first time business owner’s mind at ease. Thank you for all of your help and continued support. I could not have done it without you!!!
Lake Breeze Pottery Studio