• Sarah Phillips

18 Beans Pottery: The Art of Good Business

Updated: Jan 13

It was a rainy morning in early winter, and the puddles were collecting beside mossy sidewalks. I dodged them as I walked quickly to meet with Franco at a roadside wine bar. When I opened it’s door the warmth of the cafe floated outside carrying the smells of food and friendship.

Franco sat comfortably in the corner wearing a knitted sweater, reviewing the menu. We ordered coffee and ate some of the brown sugar cubes too.

After we were situated, Franco told me about his pottery:

I came to pottery a bit by mistake. After leaving my job at a local non-profit, I wanted to find something creative and unique to do with my time. I started by taking a pottery class, and I was hooked! I love that pottery is an art form that people can both use and display. I also enjoy the way clay feels in my hands when I'm working on a new piece!

At the moment I'm using a shared production space, which really limits the number of things that I can create. It's been great in the sense that I get to work closely with and learn from others. However, eventually I want to rent a space of my own, where I can create enough products to fuel my future business, “18 Beans Pottery.”

Tell me about the name!

My wife and I have two cats...we are definitely cat people. Cats have 18 pads on their feet, which is why I love the name 18 beans; It combines two of my favorite things!

What are your thoughts on turning a passion into a career?

I have mixed feelings. Sometimes I think that the process of executing ideas, overshadows the initial idea itself. I imagine that a lot of people struggle with this reality, especially those of us working on creative endeavors.There would be a lot of business type things to manage, and I'm not excited about it. I even took a business class, but I have to admit - it was very boring and a grind to get through! I would rather just create beautiful pieces for people to enjoy, but I also recognize that some planning is necessary to get my work out to the largest number of people.

I'm still figuring this part out.

I also think that geography can play a role in the success of an art business. Tacoma is a great place to create art. We have a cool community and people are pretty open minded. However, I think that it could be difficult to sell high-end pottery in Tacoma. Seattle would probably be better for doing that, because there are a higher number of people with disposable income.

What have you enjoyed the most about your artistic journey, so far?

I have really enjoyed learning about the process, and making small tweaks to improve the quality of my work. I'm not finished learning yet, and I look forward to many more years of making beautiful (and cat) inspired creations.

If you want to see more of Franco's work, check 18 Beans out here.

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