Meet the Cartel: La Casa De Pinos
Welcome to our new interview series Meet the Cartel, a spotlight on Big Cartel shop owners. For today’s installment, say hello to Tiffany of La Casa De Pinos, a ceramics artist out of Richmond, Virginia.
How did you get into ceramics?
I wanted to make planters that fit my style so I enrolled in an eight week ceramics course. By week four, I was hooked. By the end of the class, I was buying my own secondhand wheel and set up shop in my walk-in closet. I very quickly realized that a closet was not the place for a studio (ceramics is messy!) and started looking for affordable studio spaces in my local arts district. When I found a place, I started to sell my work with a goal of covering my rent cost. I only wanted to break even so I could continue working in the medium. Eventually, things took off but it didn’t happen right away.
Why did you choose Big Cartel?
I looked at all the platforms and ultimately chose Big Cartel due to its easy and simple nature. I love that it is no fuss, has a great interface and caters to artists who want to sell. It has all the features I need without all the fluff.
Tell us about your most popular item in your shop
I make everything by hand. Drip mugs are the most popular. They are thrown on the wheel in a densely speckled clay body and hand glazed black satin in a drippy pattern. No two are the exact same.
Why did you choose your current theme for your shop?
I love the big banner with the word overlay. It is simple and suits my style.
Check out the Foundry theme for your own Big Cartel shop
Which Big Cartel feature could you not live without?
I love the app for editing the theme and shop items on the go!
What does a regular workday look like for you?
My studio is in my backyard so I’m lucky that I can easily pop in when I need to. Every day is different when I am actively making a body of work. There are many steps in the ceramic process. If I’m going to be throwing on the wheel, I try to get in there before noon. I prep the clay I’m going to work with for the day by weighing and wedging it. Then I will spend a few hours throwing mugs, vases, planters or whatever it is on my agenda. Then another day I will do trim work which gets it to a more finished state, and if they are mugs, I will attach handles at this point. After pieces are fired, I will spend an entire studio session or more glazing them. At any given time, my work can be in any one of these states but I try to work in blocks to keep it manageable.
Who or what inspires you?
A bit cliche, but I find inspiration everywhere! Lately I’ve been looking to fashion and seeing what themes may translate into my work. It doesn’t always manifest but experimentation is good. Mostly I’m a very simple person and default to basics… texture, clean lines, color play.
What’s a moment in your career, or life in general, that you’re proud of?
I am proud of finding something I love and am passionate about. Something that fuels me, something that challenges me, something that pushes me to take risks, something that occupies my mind rent free and I’m perfectly okay with that.
What was the most unexpected challenge you have encountered while running your own business? How did you overcome that challenge?
My business was starting to gain momentum and I needed to scale. For me, this meant getting the proper electrical set up to run my kilns so I could have full control over my production process. At the same time, it made sense to finish converting my garage into my studio. During this studio renovation project last summer, an undertaking in itself, I learned that I was pregnant. I suffered from severe morning sickness that kept me away from my work for an extended period of time. As a result, I had to pass up a lot of amazing opportunities that would have been really great for business and it really killed me to do that. As my pregnancy progressed, I was able to resume work. Now that my daughter is here, the new challenge that I will have to learn to overcome is balancing my ceramic practice with motherhood.
How do you like to unwind after a particularly busy day?
Good food and a good beverage, of course!
Any advice for someone thinking about opening up their own shop?
Just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can figure it out as you go.
Give us three recommendations… for anything!
My favorite Richmond, VA based small businesses:
- Ninja Kombucha for the best kombucha
- Someday Shop for home goods
- Boho Studios for a really good workout