Hana Brewster in her studio.
Photos courtesy of the artist.
When many entrepreneurs start a business, their goal is to have a large workspace with several employees and high demand for their product. But Hana Brewster feels differently. “I’ll probably never have employees, and I’m perfectly content with that,” she says.
As the owner of Quiet Clementine, Brewster creates ceramic jewelry, home décor, and jewelry storage pieces from her home studio, which is set up in a bedroom in the home she shares with her husband.
“I don’t see myself getting a studio outside of my home. I like working from home, and it suits my introverted personality,” she says.
Stamping the logo onto the clay.
Earrings in process.
For now, Brewster’s main focus is balancing her happiness with manageable growth. “My workspace doesn’t have enough room for other people to comfortably work in there with me. It is tricky, though, because I’d like to grow my business and have more wholesale accounts,” she says. “In order to do that, I’d need employees to help me, but I’d also need to already be making more money to hire people.”
As Quiet Clementine grows, Brewster continues to make decisions that keep her engaged creatively but also still help her maintain a healthy work-life balance.
“At the end of the day, I’m happy working alone in my home and don’t want the responsibility of managing people,” she says.
Before launching Quiet Clementine, Brewster owned a business making polymer clay jewelry and décor pieces. “I did made-to-order for those products and didn’t really love that way of working,” Brewster tells us. Soon tired of working with polymer clay, she shifted her focus to ceramics.
Brewster’s dad, a potter and art teacher, played a part in the transition. “My dad had encouraged me to make some ceramic things, and I resisted for a while because I didn’t think I had the skill to work in ceramics,” she says. “I finally gave in and made some jewelry and a few ring dishes, and once I saw the finished pieces, I was hooked.”
Ceramics was even more enticing when Brewster realized what she could do with this new skill. “It felt like actual ceramic clay, rather than polymer clay, allowed for a lot more creativity and possibility. It just seemed like it was time to shift my focus, so I immediately began planning how I was going to transition my business and buy a kiln of my own.” Quiet Clementine officially launched in March 2015.
Hexagon ring dishes.
Since launching the business, Brewster’s ceramic skills and technique have improved through practice, but her main areas of focus haven’t changed: vibrant colors, geometric shapes, simple repeating patterns, and gold accents.
Something that has changed is the number of different products Brewster offers. “I tend to make new products when I see a specific type of item becoming popular and think I could put my own spin on it or when there’s something I would like to have in my own life,” she says. If the item doesn’t sell well, she’ll stop selling it and move on to something else.
Brewster uses her best-selling item as an example: “In the last few years, statement earrings really started making a comeback and I was seeing them everywhere. I really wanted some of my own so I decided to try making some at the beginning of last year and haven’t stopped since.”
Though it’s what makes her happiest, Brewster is aware of the challenges of working from home alone.
“I think balancing work and non-work time can be challenging when you work from home. Having the mess in a separate space where I don’t have to look at it when I’m not working is really helpful,” she says.
Brewster doesn’t think that her home studio affects her work-life balance. “I’m usually still thinking about [the business], so the separate space doesn’t prevent that, but I don’t think anyone can completely stop these thoughts when you’re a small business.”
Arch bud vase.
As a solo business owner, pricing her products is one of many challenges for Brewster. “Pricing is always a struggle. I need to make a profit, but also want my products to be accessible to people,” she says.
Marketing is another challenge. “I find it hard to make sales sometimes. Whether it’s a slow buying season, pricing, or the products just aren’t resonating with my audience, it can be hard to know what the issue is or how to fix it.”
Other common challenges, like knowing which designs are strongest, were easier to deal with when Brewster started offering her products for wholesale. Because she had used wholesale for her previous business, she was already familiar with the logistics.
Before she even launched Quiet Clementine officially, Brewster posted her designs on Instagram and started getting inquiries about wholesale. “I wasn’t ready for it at the time, so I spent the rest of that year putting a line sheet together and got a few orders at the beginning of the next year,” she says.
The prep work paid off. “Wholesale has been great for my business and the way that I work. It’s taught me how to pitch my work and build relationships with shops, which is a great asset for small businesses,” Brewster says. “It has also helped me to hone in on which of my designs are the best so that I can offer a strong collection of products to stockists.”
Even when the challenges of running a one-person business seem overwhelming, Brewster takes solace in knowing she’s making her customers happy. “The best part of owning this business is getting to make fun things I love and then sharing those things with people who also love and appreciate them,” she says. “It’s so exciting to know that someone loves my work enough to spend their money on it and that they’re out there in the world, enjoying it every day (I hope)!”
The creative aspect of the business will always be very important to Brewster. “I love being able to play with colors and shapes and come up with different combinations for new designs,” she says. “It’s actually a little overwhelming because there are so many variations and I always want to do them all, but it’s also what makes this job so fun for me.”
“My pieces are small, but I think little things can bring a lot of joy and I want everyone who purchases my work to experience that,” Brewster says.
Quiet Clementine is launching a new earring collection soon. For sneak peeks, works-in-progress, and updates on new collections, check out quietclementine.com, sign up for the newsletter, or follow @quietclementine on Instagram.
Ashley Little is a craft writer and editor living in Asheville, North Carolina. She has given up on reducing her yarn stash and refuses to feel guilty about it. You can see more of her work at thefeistyredhead.com.