Navigating Covid-19 as a small business owner

Navigating Covid-19 as a small business owner

Watching what was happening in the world from around the time of Christmas I suspected it was only a matter of time before the United States was affected by Covid-19. In March, as reports were rolling in about infection rates I knew that we were going to have to be prepared to pivot in the case of a shut down.

When the shut down actually happened I sent my team home and launched into action. Our resident potters continued making what they could in their home studios and my husband, Christopher, and I would make the rounds picking up pottery in the back of his pick up and taking it gingerly back to the studio to fire in the kilns.

Eventually, everyone started coming back into the studio in shifts, trying not to have too many people in the studio all at once. Everything is constantly being wiped down or cleaned. I have cleaned the bathroom enough in the last 6 months to last a lifetime, but it needs to be done and I'm so damn happy we are able to continue working.

The entire studio needed an overhaul. Large work tables were cut down to smaller sizes, new wheels were added and now every work space is mobile. Each person working in the studio is able to distance themselves. We installed air filters, run the large vents to keep old air circulating out of the studio and fresh air in. We use a lot of spray sanitizer. Everyone has snazzy masks. We no longer allow customers into the studio but that has given birth to our parking lot pick up service which is handy, even for us.

We're adapting. It's really not as bad as I thought it would be.

Honestly, it helps that most of us are pretty intense introverts so keeping to a relatively small pod limits exposure and isn't a hardship most of the time.

We all miss live music, restaurants and being able to hang out around a pile of tasty food chatting and laughing. It'll happen again. I have faith. Life may never return to normal as we knew it, but that's ok. Some of it wasn't that great anyway and I'm perpetually up for a new adventure.

Now that we seem to be settling into a new routine, production is picking up. Kiln repairs are in progress to make sure all 6 of our kilns are in tip top shape in time for the holiday crush. A new kiln is on its way and will push us up to 7 kilns! I am still constantly amazed at how quickly my little lake cottage studio has grown into a move to Indianapolis and now 4,200 square feet of industrial space with enough room for SEVEN kilns. It boggles the mind sometimes.

I love that it is no longer "my studio" and has become "our studio" thanks to all the wonderful artisans that make this all happen.

In spite of all the things that have changed as a result of Covid-19 from the city wide shut down to my husband joining the team because of Covid-related cut backs, a lot of good things have happened, too. All of the potters continued making their normal income during the shut down without needing unemployment. We've fed over 100 families in Indianapolis with the Feed The Artists project. I've decided to continue paying forward our success with a portion of some of our best selling pots being donated to local food banks or school lunch programs each month. The community we've strengthened through all of this will be with us for a lifetime.

We know now that we have each others' backs. It's not theoretical. It's for real. I might be partial, but I think we have a pretty damn fine team and I'm looking forward to years of working together sharing the pitfalls and rewards of pottery together.

Now that I'm done rambling my musings of the last few months, I invite you to enjoy this photo of the first gorgeous fall flowers I ran across at Trader Joe's and had to have brighten the studio and our website along with fresh tomatoes from Dusty's garden.

Be well. Stay healthy. Be kind to each other. 


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