Laurie Caffery grew up in Boone, North Carolina, a small town surrounded by the peaks and valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Encouraged by her creative parents – a painter mom and a custom home designer and builder dad, Laurie spent her childhood enthusiastically exploring different mediums, primarily painting and drawing.

Laurie received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Studio Art with an emphasis in ceramics in 2014.

Her artwork is exhibited and collected nationally and internationally.

Currently, Laurie continues to create her narrative-driven, decorative ceramics from her home studio in Asheville, North Carolina alongside her husband, son and dogs.

In this episode we talk about her creative education & journey – and how illustrating on clay happened by accident!

We discuss how she’s grown a successful independent business – and how that’s enabled her to charge what her work is worth, and grow a following of people who love to collect her work.

Laurie is launching her latest collection the day after this goes live, check out her work right here –

You can listen to the podcast below, or on your fave podcast app – or you can watch it on YouTube!

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Show Notes

● Laurie started working with ceramics in high school, but this was more of a hobby, and illustrating her main creative focus. While at college, ceramics became more of a serious interest and eventually became Laurie’s career choice in 2016.
● Laurie’s mother, Debbie Arnold, is an artist, and her father a bespoke home builder so Laurie grew up in a very artistic environment. Here she naturally excelled in illustrating and painting, and with a shy, introverted personality, it was assumed that she too would choose a career within the creative arts.
● Laurie discussed how she came to switch to ceramics as her medium during a college
wheel-throwing course. She found the media incredibly challenging and was determined to better understand it. Ceramics is an art form based more on muscle memory, skill, and the products you use, than artistic talent and really keeps you engaged.
● Laurie has an added layer to her ceramics which is illustration of her products. This was something she fell into at a time when she was teaching ceramics and a scholarship came up for a course at Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, one of the best craft schools in the United States. The only course available was illustration of ceramics which Laurie almost declined, but she did go, and the course changed everything.
● During college, there was pressure to create more sculptural and academic works even though Laurie’s interest was in functional ceramics. Therefore, when she began working in ceramics again, she had no particular style and was able to start from scratch.

‘Part of the draw with functional ceramics was that I could figure out how to do it
myself… from creating the piece, to marketing, to selling the piece on my own without
relying on galleries.’ {Laurie}

● Laurie started out selling at craft fairs, and moved to 40% online, 60% consignment, wholesale, etc. When the pandemic happened, craft markets and galleries were shut down so Laurie switched to selling only online, though recently she has taken on some
wholesale work with a gallery.
● Marketing was discussed. Laurie uses Instagram for 95% of her marketing, and DMs (Direct Messages) have made a huge difference in this process.

‘It has been so wonderful to truly build authentic relationships with my customers… we have become friends and they have become my cheerleaders.’ {Laurie}

● While Laurie has a modest follower count, this is not that important; it’s more important to have organic growth and have authentic relationships with her customers.
● Email lists have also proved successful for Laurie’s business as a way to directly reach out to her client base.
● As a ceramicist, Laurie has the benefit of a client base of collectors, and therefore
markets her work differently to someone who relies on single sales. Laurie needs clients who value her work, who know who she is as a person, and who know the quality and time taken to create her work so that they will pay fairly for her products. This is because ceramics are generally deemed to have low value. Laurie originally sold through Etsy and this was a great platform to start off with, however Etsy retains customer email addresses which isn’t ideal if you are wanting to contact customers directly.
● Instagram was discussed as this is a constantly changing platform and requires regular posting of a range of different formats, e.g. Carousels, reels, etc.
● Laurie has four releases per year, and her designs change depending on the season.
She currently doesn’t have capacity to sell all year round due to her studio size.
● Work life balance was raised as Laurie has always struggled with workaholism, but since having her son, she has had to reevaluate how she works to allow time for her family. Laurie’s husband is a huge part of the success of Laurie’s business, helping to construct her studio, taking on childcare duties, etc.
● The creative process was discussed. Laurie has a list of themes that she wishes to explore and whittles this down to the theme of the new release.
● Laurie spoke about a spreadsheet she uses to track sales, income, expenses, and
individual items. The constraints of this spreadsheet and list is important to Laurie as it helps her focus on the creative process and make it more fun.
● The biggest challenge for Laurie has been motherhood; while it has been wonderful it
has also been difficult adjusting the business.
● The biggest highlight has been her online store as this has met exactly with her goals
and grown to be a sustainable business.
● The future for Laurie’s business was discussed. She has achieved what she wanted with her online sales, however would like to have more ease and stability, and take more regular weekends off with her family without worrying about the business.
● Jess noted that it’s good for other makers to see that it’s ok to stay a small business; you don’t need to grow beyond where you feel comfortable and fulfilled.
● Advice from Laurie to other makers is don’t underestimate marketing. There is a fine balance between marketing your products whilst also focusing on good craftsmanship at the same time.
● Quote: Choose discomfort over resentment, Brené Brown. For Laurie, this means saying no to things that you don’t want to do, rather than agreeing and being resentful. This is important to Laurie at this stage in her business as it protects her peace and her time.
You can find Laurie on Instagram, lauriecaffery.clay and on her website,

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