On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about building a business in ceramics with my guest Emily Reinhardt.
Emily Reinhardt created The Object Enthusiast in 2011 right after graduating from Kansas State University. The greatest gift of all was the mentorship and guidance of professors and teachers in the ceramics department at Kansas State, and without these mentors, The Object Enthusiast would not have been born. Emily focuses primarily on creating functional objects that elevate the everyday while also branching off into some sculptural and conceptual pieces. Over the last year, the focus has shifted from mass production to a slower pace of creation – making sure each piece is brought to life with love and intention.
This episode is sponsored by Schacht Spindle Company.
Manufacturing hand weaving looms and spinning wheels in Boulder, Colorado since 1969.
Schacht Spindle Company products are beautifully crafted tools designed with the craftsperson in mind. Schacht Spindle Company is committed to supporting its dealers in their educational programs. Explore the resources available on their website and contact us about how you can add spinning and weaving to your product mix. Sign up for their monthly newsletter at schachtspindle.com to be entered into a drawing to win a Schacht Lilli Loom. Their newsletter includes free patterns, product updates, and Schacht news.
We begin this conversation with Emily talking about how she found ceramics in college and what she loves about it. She also talks about the professors she had in college and how she developed a strong work ethic that has helped her throughout her career. One of her mentors gave her his kiln and wheel when he retired and that helped Emily to launch her career after graduation.
Emily talks about starting The Object Enthusiast as a blog first, but with the idea that it could grow into something more. We talk about the lack of business classes in art school and having to learn those on the job. Emily talks about working as a social media coordinator at a credit union and how the skills she gained at that job helped her learn how to launch her art business. She also talks about moving to Omaha and devoting herself fully to ceramics and how that shift really helped her to grow The Object Enthusiast.
We talk about Emily’s style which incorporates gold and glamor but is also imperfect. Emily explains how she has an unsteady hand and so she’s embraced those uneven lines and dots, although first she really had to make her pots perfect before being able to make them imperfect on purpose.
Burnout has been a very real thing for Emily, especially in 2018 and 2019 when she had four full-time employees, business partners, and debt, plus a big studio space. She realized she was saying yes to too many things and had become a manager rather than a studio artist. She just wasn’t happy and needed to make some major changes. Although it meant letting go of revenue, she cut way back and now has a smaller scale art business that she really loves again. This is such an important conversation about not feeling guilty and letting go.
We wrap up by talking about Instagram and all the opportunities it’s brought The Object Enthusiast, but also how it’s really changed over time. Emily explains her mixed feelings about the platform and how she’s approaching it today.
And, of course, I ask Emily to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Emily recommends:
- going on long walks
- My Favorite Murder podcast
- drawing in a sketchbook