Meet a Business is a series featuring the person behind some of your favorite locally-owned businesses.
What is your name?
What's your hometown?
I have resided in Ohio by birth, the West by passion, and the East by curiosity
What is your business name?
Shockoe Bottom Clay Studios & Gallery
How many years have you owned/managed your business?
What did you want to be as a child?
I was extremely curious. I didn’t have a defined career path in my mind, at every turn there were opportunities. There wasn’t much I didn’t like…
What is the most popular item you sell?
Handcrafted coffee and tea mugs. These are signature pieces for many ceramic artists and can be enjoyed by everyone. If you can't afford a fine piece of sculptural or functional art, a handmade mug can bring inspiration and comfort into your day.
In what ways has your business changed since COVID-19?
When the pandemic began we were ready to launch a national conference with over 7,000 ceramic artists visiting Richmond and over 100 free ceramic art exhibitions throughout the community. Putting the breaks on such planning was tremendous. It temporarily knocked the wind out of us. (At SBC we had two exhibitions installed, another two going into 1716 E Main Street. There were dozens planned throughout the Bottom, Church hill, Rockets Landing etc.…)
At that point we were closed and had to pivot. For SBC it wasn’t just about the gallery but how to help our 30+ gallery artist get traction and how to keep our 10 working studios open and safe. Ceramic artists rely on exhibitions, art shows, fairs, farmers markets, galleries like ours and online sales. Many were creating virtual tours and opening their own online shops. Others stopped in their tracks.
For the gallery, all our events were cancelled and are cancelled for the near future. We had to cancel our customer appreciation event, our 5-year celebration, second sale, holiday parties, valentine event or annual studio tour.
We are open online and in person. We have opened an online store (shipping available), offered face time tours of the gallery and private appointments. Our hours were reduced and anyone coming into the gallery had to follow the covid protocol of masks and hand sanitation before touching any of the art. We also featured a selection of artists in our gallery communications.
Having our entire nation knocked to its knees was hard but made us keep perspective and try to help the community. For the Holidays we contributed to FeedMore and gave away over 60 prep bowls (Donate $5 get a free food preparation bowl) and offered our store as a dry goods drop-off location.
For the studio artists we have implemented temperature testing and outdoor breaks. If we traveled we respectfully had 14-day quarantines.
December was a good month and we are grateful for all our customers who bought local handcrafts for their holiday gifts.
The New Year has its challenges… we are headed into year two. For now we will not have any events. We were open everyday during the holidays and are now back to the weekend schedule of Friday – Sunday.
What's the first thing you do every morning to set the tone for your day?
I rotate my mornings between a 40 minute meditation and a 60 minute walk. Of course a morning cappacino in my favorite mug is a must!
How did you get the idea for your business?
My husband, Mark Koslow and I, didn’t want a ceramics studio in our backyard. We wanted to work within a ceramics community so we created one.
What does the world need more of?
Leaders with integrity and compassion.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I would like to 'inspire' everyone I touch so that they could do their own creative problem solving. Can you imagine what that would do to the world? Creative problem solving empowers you to solve issues and create a more peaceful and forgiving world. It gives you the bandwidth to do whatever it is you really want to do. I see too many 'stuck' individuals in this world.
What's your favorite thing to do in Richmond when you're not in your business?
Be with my family. Entertain, cook, garden, cycle, walk. Enjoy the precious moments of my life.
Who do you look up to and why?
There are many that I look up to.... For meditation Tara Brach is a great leader. For creative inspiration Tony DiTerlizzi and his signature “Never Abandon Imagination”. When I first started out in corporate America I looked up to Cy DeCosse. He was a creative director, turned entrepeneur/publisher, artist, musician and philanthropist. He looked deep into the world of possibilities.
What do you love most about Richmond?
I love that Richmond has variety, a lot to offer and it is growing. You can find the great concerts, excellent food, inspiring outdoor experiences and art. You don’t need a car, just a good map. The people you meet are open and collaborative. If you are motivated you can bring your dreams into reality. It took us 2 years to renovate our building and we have been open for five years here in Shockoe Bottom.
What's the best thing about being a local business owner?
Being able to contribute back to the fabric of our community has been very rewarding.