Made in SLO… Back Bay Pottery

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As an artisan and new resident to the area, I’m always looking for ways to get involved in the artist community of SLO. When I look into organizations, venues, and the like – there is always a business I see, Back Bay Pottery. Having seen this business all over, I looked into who they were and I was blown away. Christine Silbaugh aka Back Bay Pottery is absolutely incredible in talent and community involvement. She instantly became someone I wanted to meet.

Christine is one of the Captains of our SLO County Sellers Etsy Team and I’m so happy that I finally met her, in person, a month ago. Of course I wanted to do a Made in SLO feature on her and now I had my chance! So, I hope that all of you enjoy this as much as I have. Christine is so sweet and supportive and it shines through her interview.

Where in SLO is home and for how long?

I live in Los Osos and have grown up here. I was born in General Hospital in SLO and have lived in SLO, Cayucos, Morro Bay but mostly in Los Osos.

What do you love most about SLO?

I have always loved it here and have never wanted to move away. I have visited many places around the country but nothing feels like home like SLO does. Its different from any other place I have seen.

There are so many things to do here…we have the best of everything from nature to shopping!

My family and I love to visit the tide pools at spooners cove and hike along the trails at Montaña De Oro. It’s one of the first things we do when friends or family visits from out of town. I also love all the farmers markets!

How is SLO different from any other place?

I feel like SLO is very family oriented and a happy place to live. We have such a great population of people that are very supportive of our large artist community.

Like Bello Mundo Cafe in SLO (by the courthouse). I have had my work in there for a couple of years now and they keep on asking for more. They love supporting local artists.

How/why did you start creating?

I have always been a maker and was raised by artists and crafters. I grew up painting and drawing and sculpting things from polymer clay. When I started making ceramics (about 4 years ago) it fit so perfectly. It is such a versatile medium that I am able to use all of my artistic skills.

What do you create?

I create one of a kind pottery for the home, office and garden. My style is organic yet vibrant and full of color. I have so many ideas of things to make that I just don’t have enough time in the day to make it all. But I keep a list of things to make. It’s a long list!

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Your pieces are so gorgeous. Where do you get your inspiration?

I get my inspiration from so many places! Of course the beautiful area we live in like the birds, beaches, flowers and my husbands succulent garden. I love to look at textures and patterns that can be found everywhere like the amazing architecture of old buildings, the vintage bamboo textured wall paper in my dining room, and the intricate carvings of my antique wooden batik blocks from india. I also look at the trending styles and colors found on Pinterest, Etsy of course and stores like Anthropology and Pottery Barn.

What is your workshop like?

I use to have a crazy mess in the living room (that was my office) but now I have taken over the garage…well not completely.

My husband has the other half but I keep on inching my way over. We have a detached four car garage behind our house so it makes a perfect studio/workshop. I change things all the time because my business and life keeps changing. I have remolded my studio at least 6 times in the last three years. I do spend an awful lot of time in my studio so I have to make it pleasant to work and move around in.

I love decorating it with art from other artist! Especially local and Etsy artists!

We love your workshop! Visiting your workshop to have our team meeting was awesome. I loved seeing all of the art on the walls and creativity just seemed to buzz in there!

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You are so involved in the local maker community! Can you share some more of that with us?

Our local maker community is great and I definitely believe in buying local like at our farmers markets and art/craft fairs. I am a member of Arts Obispo and like to participate in Art After Dark, the first friday of every month form 6-9pm, where local artists feature their work at shops, cafes, and galleries in downtown SLO.

I am also one of the leaders on the local etsy team SLO County Sellers. We are a great group of people who sell their work, antiques or supplies on Etsy.

Being a small business owner and selling your work can be hard and overwhelming, not to mention scary. We reach out and offer free help and support to anyone who is currently selling on Etsy or wants to in the future. Our team supports and encourages one another by sharing our tips and tricks and our stories of why we do what we do. We try to meet up once a month and are working on creating some workshops. I really think anyone can make a business that will work for them.

What lessons have you learned from having your own small business?

I have learned to many lessons to list. One of my biggest ones is valuing my work and working slower. I am not a factory and I make everything myself so I need to enjoy the process. I have the ability to work fast and to make a lot of things at a time but it just isn’t enjoyable and my quality goes down. I let my true inner artist come out when I take my time and pay attention to every detail.

What do you struggle with or still have yet to master by having your own business?

I have always struggled with taking on to much. I usually don’t realize that I took on to much work until its to late and I start to burn out. I have learned that a work life balance is a must and it’s something I think I will always struggle with. I have to be strict with myself and make rules like no working on the weekends but even if my orders are late it’s worth it. When it comes down to it my family needs to come first.

What goals do you have for your business?

I really want to be an artist and not so much in production so I want to keep my business at a manageable size yet still continue to support my family.

My work will always change and I think that works for me. I love to try new techniques and colors.

Thank you so much for taking time for us, Christine! We look forward to what you have up that talented sleeve. Make sure to visit Back Bay Pottery!

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Made in SLO… Stranded by Kylie

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The lovely Kylie Holt of Stranded by Kylie shared her creative life with us and we are thrilled to, finally, be sharing it with you. Enjoy a special discount at her Etsy store using code SLOLIFE13! Thanks, Kylie!

Where in SLO do you reside?

I currently live in Paso Robles and grew up in Templeton my entire life.

How has SLO grown?

Living in SLO county is great. In Paso Robles alone there have been so many businesses that have grown so much over the year, especially the wineries. In the past couple years even the dance department has expanded to two new studios in SLO county; Artistry In Motion in Paso Robles (where I work) and Main Street Dance have been added to the selection of dance studios. Overall, SLO county has added more variety in many different aspects.

I grew up as a dancer and worked as a choreographer, so I really appreciate the growth of dance companies throughout the county as well. It seems as though there is a new studio that pops up every couple months. What do you love most about SLO?

My favorite part about SLO is at times it can seem like you know everyone around you but then you suddenly meet someone never even heard of! It seems like a small town but a big one at the same time. There are always new people coming here weather they are just visiting or moving here.

I’m a newcomer myself and love the small town feel. It is one of my favorite things about SLO too! Now you have to tell us about your pretty jewelry. How/why did you start crafting?

My crafting started early on. My Nana taught me how to make plenty crafts and my favorite was jewelry. She taight me about jewelry one year right before Christmas. We made gifts for everyone that year that was all some type of jewelry! Later in 2012, my Nana had a stroke and was put into a coma. Today, she is still pushing through and she inspired me to do more than just go to school. I decided to make jewelry dedicated to her. She would have wanted me to do something special and I feel happy when I do make things.

I bet your Nana is very proud of you!

How did you come up with the name for your shop?

The name was an idea from one of my relatives who makes his own jewelry. It explains exactly what I do!

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Artists always have unique places they like to work, what is yours?

Currently, my workshop is in the dinning room of my house. I live with my two aunts and I cant just leave everything out! My stuff goes in and out of my closet when I have time to make new things. It doesn’t get too messy when I make jewelry in the dinning room. I like to keep things clean.

We really think that your creativity shines through your pieces and we wish you a lot of luck in growing your sales! My favorite of your pieces is the dream key necklace (pictured below far right). Thanks for taking time to hang out with us, Kylie!

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Made in SLO… Miss Violetheart

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We had the chance to chat with the beautiful lady behind Miss Violetheart, Shari Staufenberg, about her business and her life in San Luis Obispo. We’re thrilled to feature her as our first local artisan in the Made in SLO feature. All of our readers will enjoy 10% off on her colorful jewelry in her Etsy shop using code SLOLIFE10 through December 31, 2013!

You moved back to Cambria 2 years ago from Santa Barbara with your family, can you introduce them to us?

My family consists of me, my husband Bruce, a musician, and my daughter Arabella, an awesome singer, budding keyboard player, and loves to do arts and crafts with me.

Bruce and Arabella are new to living in SLO, how are they liking life in SLO?

Bruce has taken to living here even better than I imagined (he grew up in Santa Barbara and lived there basically his whole life) and Arabella loves it too. Definitely the right choice for us!

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I absolutely love Cambria! As a native of SLO, how has it grown?

I think for the most part, SLO has stayed the same. Obviously it has grown some, but fortunately people here appreciate the lifestyle and strive to keep the charm and keep it from getting too big. When I first move to Santa Barbara [for college], no one knew where Cambria was. When I was moving back here, EVERYONE knew about Cambria (and was so jealous I was going to live here).

How did you start creating?

I have always dabbled in creative oriented pursuits, especially as I got older. I took many classes through adult ed over the year- watercolor painting, glass fusing, jewelry making. 

Crafting was always something I did on the side, not my “real” job. In 2008, our neighborhood was destroyed by a wildfire. Although our house survived the fire, the physical and emotional challenges of re-building the neighborhood eventually took its toll on us. My family decided that we needed to have a change of scene. So, in 2011, we moved to Cambria. Along with the move, I decided that I wanted to re-invent myself and do something totally different than what I had been doing, something I loved. I had taken a wire-wrapping jewelry class shortly before we moved and I was hooked. I love the whole proves of designing a piece and the actual making of it.

What do you create?

I make bright and colorful, one-of-a-kind jewelry. I utilize many different elements- handmade fused glass beads made by my older sister, Su (who lives in Paso Robles), pearls, vintage beads, Czech fire-polished beads, and natural stone.

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What is the name of your shop and how did you come up with the name?

Miss Violetheart. I wanted to come up with a name that meant something to me- it had to reflect something I loved. I have been a purple fanatic my whole life; at one point in time my whole wardrobe was purple. My logo is a red-winged blackbird (only she’s purple, of course) which is another thing I love. I have fond memories of these birds from my childhood in Cambria.

Can you share what your work space is like?

My dream is to have a lifeguard stand in my backyard to use as a studio. But for now, I use a desk in my room, the kitchen table, or outside on the deck when it’s nice.

Thank you for hanging out, Shari! Before we go, what are you goals for your business?

I would love to be making a decent living selling my jewelry. I am so pleased when someone likes what I have done.

Visit Shari and her Miss Violetheart shop. Help us Support SLO, a movement that is so important to the vitality of our region. Don’t forget to use the discount code SLOLIFE10.