When creative minds come together, beautiful things are created. Such was the case in late 2006 when seven professional women potters came up with a solution to their shared hindrances of constant travel to art shows and the loss of up to 50% of their sales to a traditional art gallery. They created a cooperative space for themselves and their peers to work together to bring beautiful art to the people of Wilmington. The gallery was the first of its kind in the area dedicated exclusively to handmade, one-of-a-kind, 3-dimensional art and crafts from North Carolina artisans in a variety of forms including clay, fiber wall hangings, decorative gourds, wearable fiber art, jewelry, mixed media, sculpture, pine needle baskets, and wood. While the seven founders had varied backgrounds and extensive experience in the art world, they sought SCORE’s counsel in 2009 for ways to refine the day-to-day business operations.
The gallery is now entering its fifth year in Wilmington and continues to exceed sales and profit plans each year. The founders, or “Seven Mad Potters” as they dubbed themselves in their acceptance speech, were honored with the 2009 Innovative Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Coastal Small Business Awards.
Mentor Sara Raleigh assisted the group through a thorough business plan review and guidance on retail operations including sales training, operating procedures, fixture placement, branding and marketing. The development of a sound pricing strategy has allowed this beautiful gallery to thrive in its historic downtown location, as evidenced by the thousands of handmade objects they sell each year.