We had the good fortune of connecting with Nikkie Stutts and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nikkie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Starting my own ceramics business has been a “long shot” dream of mine since starting to work with clay 9 years ago. I learned how to do ceramics in college, I took a hand building class and was honestly garbage at it (like most people are when they first start out) but I LOVED it. I could not get enough and soon I had fully immersed myself into the ceramics program. Upon completing my degree I felt lost, I wasn’t sure what to do with my art degree and didn’t have anywhere near enough experience to start my own business. I worked a few retail jobs over the years but it wasn’t until I got a job at a Ceramics retailer that I felt like I finally figured it out. That is what I wanted, not quite as large of a scale but a business that I could sustain myself from and do what I love.
I’ve seen other small and large ceramics businesses thrive and even some unfortunately fall over the last few years and all while watching I knew this is where I wanted to be and that I needed to make it happen by any means possible, even if that meant I would fall too.
Ceramics was first my passion, then it became my side hustle and now thankfully my job. Through all these transitions, ceramics has remained my passion and while figuring out how to turn my love for this special medium of art into my full time job was difficult, it has definitely been the most rewarding thing I have done in my life thus far.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I intend for my work to be enjoyed on a daily basis whether it is in your kitchen or high up on a shelf. I create simple ceramics with a touch of quirky, with hopes of bringing a little joy into your homes.
I draw inspiration from my daily life, colors I like, things I see, relatable and fun images that I think others would enjoy to see on a ceramic piece. I am constantly coming up with new ideas on what to paint on my pots. My style evolves with me over time and I am constantly excited about the ways in which it will change.
To get to where I am today was not easy, and it currently is still not easy. It takes a lot to run your own small business, stay creative and have a social life. I am continually learning on a daily basis what works and what does not. I went full time with my ceramics business at the start of this year, 2022, and while it was the biggest change my life has seen thus far, it has been the most rewarding. I have challenged myself in ways I had no idea were possible. I have learned that becoming your own boss has just as many perks as it does disadvantages.
The biggest hurdle to jump was setting boundries for myself, knowing when to start and stop working, working hard while making sure I am taking a proper weekend off. We have all seen those videos on Social Media about not wanting to work a 9-5 so you quit your job to start your own business and and now you work 24/7. It is kind of true but I have found what works best for me to not feel like I am over working myself is keeping a detailed agenda for the work week and always including time in the week to make whatever I feel like making in the moment. I set aside a specific day of the week where I start off the day by making whatever I want, maybe it is throwing with a new clay, working on a larger piece or just sitting down at my wheel to throw whatever comes to mind. As an artist I think it is really important to “scratch those itches” and not suppress them just because you have to get things on a list checked off. Who knows maybe in those few hours of creative time I give myself I come up with a new design I really love or sometimes it is just great for my mental wellbeing.
I got my start in clay 9 years ago in college when I took a ceramics class. I fell in love with the medium and knew I wanted to pursue it but after college I wasn’t sure where to go next. I thought I might want to go into teaching art, so I took up a teaching job in Spain and Italy, where I learned a valuable lesson… I did not want to be a teacher. I loved art and I even enjoyed teaching it but it was not my passion. It wasn’t until I got a job back in the states at a ceramics retail shop that I figured it out. All I wanted to do was design and make ceramics, I learned from my retail jobs that I throughly enjoyed talking with customers and explaining the ceramics process, now I just needed to apply it to my own work. Once I had this idea in my head I could not be stopped. I work for 2 more years at this retail job until I could afford to go through with my business idea and then I hit the ground running. Since going full-time with my business, my quality of life has been significantly increased. While running your own small business comes with its own stresses, the rewards are just that much more gratifying.
What I want the world to know about my work and take away from my story is that everyone can follow their “long shot” dreams, even when it seems impossible, just take it one day at a time and don’t forget to find joy along the way.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I LOVE when friends come to visit. My second favorite thing to do is host people and take them around town. I live in Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, roughly a 15 min drive to San Francisco. I have lived in Sausalito for over 3 years now and have absolutely fell in love with the North Bay. If I had a friend in town that I wanted to show around I would take them to do my favorite thing, a picnic at a sunny park right on the Bay in Sausalito, where we’d bring chilled wine, cheese and so many snacks! Another favorite thing to do in North Bay is to take a drive up panoramic, maybe stop at Stinson beach then head up to Point Reyes Station. There is a great Meadery called Heidrun that has the most beautiful flower garden and is located on an amazing farm, it is truly a beautiful representation of Marin. If you feel like taking in more of the scenery and grabbing some fresh seafood, we would keep driving up the 1 to Tomales Bay where we’d stop at Tony’s Seafood for the best oysters and fish and chips!
If we were going to the city, my go to is Golden Gate park, there is no park in the world (in my opinion) better than GGP. It is the perfect picnic park to bring your pup and lounge all day long, maybe play a game or two.
North Beach neighborhood will always have my heart in San Francisco, you can pick about any Italian restaurant and you are bound to have a great meal. My favorites are Cafe Macaroni (sit upstairs) or the classisms Sodini’s!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my Fiancé, who has cheered me on and supported me over the years as I turned my passion into my full time job. From staying up till midnight to help me glaze, setting up market booths with me, allowing me to turn our living room into a shipping center and loading an uncountable amount of late night kilns. I dedicate my hard work to Jacob, who is not only on the sidelines but has got me on their shoulders.