Paul Schneider Ceramics
Tell us about your business.Paul Schneider Ceramics is a one-man show. After being introduced to ceramics in an art class in high school, I quickly discovered that the process kept my interest unlike anything I had been exposed to. It is exactly this part of the creation process, the constant room for learning and growth, that holds my interest today. I create ceramic bowls, vases and lamps utilizing a mixture of techniques, including a rarely found ancient Japanese technique, Raku, which is a difficult technique to master. More recently, I have been educating myself in how to create lamps, from throwing to wiring, with the intent to expand into various other aspects of lighting. My ceramic pieces have sold through a number of boutique retailers throughout the nation with success and I hope to only expand this success throughout the next few years.
What makes your business stand out?Many entrepreneurs and small businesses or startups require a lot of money (capital injections) at the outset. I was first introduced to ceramics in high school and certainly did not initially view it as a way to make money, but instead as something interesting to do in my free time. However, as more and more publications featured my work and as more and more people approached me to purchase my work, I began exploring ways to sell. At that point, I built my own Raku kiln and began to slowly expand my production. Today, as I handle every aspect of the business myself, and as the firing methods I employ are rooted in vintage techniques, the costs of my operation are relatively low. These two factors have afforded me the opportunity to run my business with very little capital, thereby allowing me to learn what avenues of distribution are successful for my products and which are not.
What's the best business advice you've received?I am a big proponent of an emphasis on quality. Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, first got into business while making climbing equipment that was simply much higher quality than anything available - high quality goods and an elevated level of attention to detail are the backbone of Patagonia. Everything I make retains that same high level of quality and attention to detail. Many times this detracts to my productivity as I second guess the style or glaze results of something I've created - but ultimately, if I don't think something I create is the coolest thing I've ever seen, then how can I expect a potential customer to be impressed? In reading Yvon Chouinard’s biography, I took the information there as advice not to compromise my own standards in order to sell, but, instead, maintain a high quality in the pieces that I create.
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WINNERS ANNOUNCEDOct. 17, 2014
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