Today we’d like to introduce you to Terrie Watch.
Terrie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in what you would call an “artsy” family. My father, renowned Tennessee artist Phil Ponder, specializes in pen and ink/watercolor techniques emphasizing great detail and warmth of color. One of my prized possessions is a clay pot that was made by my grandmother, Onezima Chazal Ponder, who was a prolific artist in her 112 years. The first time I formed clay into a usable shape was at Girl Scout camp in 1967. I fell in love with wheel-throwing while taking classes from Dr. James Darrow at the University of Tennessee in 1978-79. I dabbled in clay over the years then turned my passion into a licensed business in 2001. My home-based studio was located on beautiful Cardinal Lake in Duluth for the first fifteen years. A family move brought us to Historic Norcross where my home-based studio is currently located. The Cardinal Lake Pottery line which is designed and created solely by me has grown from fifteen to more than fifty products.
I have been graced with extremely supportive family, friends and customers who have brought me fabulous ideas as well as critical feedback over the years. I look forward to all of the opportunities that lay ahead for Cardinal Lake Pottery.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road to creating Cardinal Lake Pottery has been a relatively smooth one. As with any new endeavor there are many lessons to be learned. I started my journey by checking out a book on small business from the Duluth Branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library. My first “show” was a family festival in my Cardinal Lake neighborhood.
The feedback I received from my neighbors in that first outing encouraged me to take it to the next level. I registered Cardinal Lake Pottery as a Gwinnett County business in 2001 and submitted an application to my first juried show, the Duluth Fall Festival. This fall I will participate in my seventeenth Duluth Fall Festival as well as my current home-town festival, the Norcross Art Splash. Several shows in Georgia and Tennessee round out the 2017 schedule.
Each and every show that I have participated in over the years has inspired and encouraged me. I have always listened closely to the comments of my customers and tried to implement as many of their ideas as possible. I have also received valuable advice from my fellow artisans regarding sales techniques and small business resources.
There were some frustrating moments like the time an entire box of large bowls fell out of the car and crashed to the ground. There were also a few instances of my festival tent trying to go airborne during pop-up thunderstorms. With each challenge came a solution. My car packing techniques improved and I learned how to properly weight my tent.
The most challenging part of running my small business has been keeping a balance between work and family. My husband, Dan, and four daughters, Megan, Kalie, Quinn and Lucie, keep me very busy. The 1906 historic home we purchased in Norcross presents projects fairly regularly. Pottery is what fills the gaps. As a person who likes to keep busy this works very nicely.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Cardinal Lake Pottery – what should we know?
Cardinal Lake Pottery is a collection of functional wheel-thrown stoneware that I create in my Historic Norcross home studio. A great deal of thought goes into the design and development of each piece. I collect ideas from many places but mostly rely on what will be most useful in my own home.
Besides the obvious goal of running a reputable and profitable small business, my main goal is to create useful items that can enhance the lives of the recipients. My customers often comment on the usefulness of my work as well as the reasonable prices. I love it when my customers tell me about the various destinations for my pottery including dozens of international locales.
I am extremely proud of the contributions that my company has made to my community. I have worked with several Boy Scout, Girl Scout and Home School groups to bring the pottery experience to their members. Cardinal Lake Pottery annually sponsors the OSS Thunderbolts Swim Team. Proceeds from the sales of designated products go to local charities including the St. Vincent de Paul Society. It gives me great satisfaction to know that something I made with my hands can help others.
A highlight in my seventeen years of business occurred last year when a woman approached my festival booth. She couldn’t wait to tell me about the pottery business that she had started. She went on to explain that I had inspired her to pursue her dream during a conversation we had the previous year at the same festival. I can honestly say that it is a great day when you are identified as an inspiration to a fellow human being.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Sincerity has been my guiding principle in the building of Cardinal Lake Pottery.
According to Vocabulary.com, “Sincerity is a mix of seriousness and honesty. If you do things with sincerity, people will trust you. Along with patience and compassion, sincerity is one of those qualities we all probably wish we had more of – and wish other people had more of, too. People who show sincerity are being serious, kind, and truthful.”
When I set up my booth at a festival or arrange the pottery pieces in a gallery display I always take time to step back and just look. What I see is myself … useful, sincere, approachable, and functional. I believe that a large part of my success is due to the fact that I am allowing my art to be an extension of myself.
- Price range: $5 to $65
- Address: 331 N Peachtree Street,
Norcross, GA 30071
- Website: cardinallakepottery.com
- Phone: 678-984-9549
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: cardinal.lake.pottery
- Facebook: Cardinal Lake Pottery LLC