I have been following the work of Camila Prada for about a year now. Her ceramic jars and mugs contain more personality and life than usual. Each even has its own name! She’s also one of those amazing entrepreneurs that WANTS to reach out and say hi to each and every one of her customers. In other words, she’s a person. A funny, driven, incredibly creative person who jumped at the opportunity to share her story with you. I know you’re going to enjoy this interview.
Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?
I went to the Ontario College of Art and Design in Canada not really knowing exactly what I wanted to do, and ended up majoring in Jewellery Design, which was really more like Jewellery Art. We were making tiny sculptural works which were the most beautiful objects. I really loved it. After graduating, I worked for a lot of artists in their studios as an assistant while starting up a little business on my own at the same time. I was doing the craft fair circuit but had zero business skills. After a few years, I felt lost. I was going nowhere. I also saw a trend that scared me: nobody seemed to be creating sustainable businesses selling their work. I looked for a course in ceramic design (which I was always interested in) with a big emphasis on the DESIGN side. I wanted to see if I could find work in a company, then eventually branch out on my own again, with more experience this time, and some money to invest. So I found the only course in the world that specifically trains designers to work for the ceramic industry. I travelled to the UK to study but after graduating, instead of working at a company in house, I did some freelance design work, and eventually started the business I have today.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?
There have been many. Everyday something really bad happens and something really great happens. Getting my first sold-out sale was cool though.
Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?
Of course! Nobody has time to do everything they dream about, especially when you have a highly creative mind. It just keeps generating more ideas. It’s impossible to physically manifest all that. Doubts are daily and plentiful too. For me, the doubts are more on the business side: “Are these the right product types I should be selling?” “Is my pricing right?” Stuff like that. I manage this by deciding on the most important question to tackle and creating an action plan to test and experiment.
Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?
My creativity has never disappeared, no matter how down or depressed I get. I use creativity to get me though the good and the bad. When I’m really happy, I dance around (in my living room) or make something just for fun. When I was really lonely once, I sat down and wrote poetry. It was a good way to express something and get though the emotions.
How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?
I don’t balance anything right now. That’s why these interview questions are weeks late. My life looks like someone running around, getting dirty with clay, then staring at a computer screen for many long hours while drinking green juice and peppermint tea.
What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?
Getting my work into a weekend newspaper supplement. I highly recommend it. A short email and some tweets (always something relevant) to a journalist can do wonders.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?
Just start. Don’t spend all your time “getting advice” when you are in the beginning stages – because like the creator of WordPress (Matt Mullenweg) said, “The business you start with is not the one you end up with.” You really have to find your own way and the only way to do that is by taking action everyday. Even if it’s one small thing.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Me and this question REALLY don’t get along. LOL! Not just because I don’t know (and consequently feel silly that I can’t answer) but also because of what I said in the answer above. It’s hard not to give a very typical sounding answer to this common question, but I can tell you – I see myself MUCH stronger as a business woman. The money mindset issue I mentioned before will be zapped! I know that because I’m working on this now and I already see results in terms of how I FEEL when I talk about money or make financial decisions.
You can find Camilla online at:
Her shop: http://camilaprada.com/