Ferocious Monsters Made with Love:
My Interview with Meg of Red & Main
By Stephanie Lynn, age 26, Massachusetts
redandmain.etsy.com) and her amazingly adorable clay structures. Her style is exactly what I love to feature! Otters, hedgehogs, dinos, owls, and llamas - what's not to love?! Her super-cute monsters, yetis, pumpkin Jack O' Lanterns, and Bigfoots especially caught my attention as a perfect cover feature for the month of October. I was so pleased to have the honor to interview Meg for this month's issue. Enjoy! :)
Tell us about yourself and your style of art. What makes you stand out from other artists?
I'm Meg and I live in Washington, DC, with my husband and two furry cats. I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Political Science, which helps me not at all in my current job as the owner of Red & Main Studio. At Red & Main, I create hand-sculpted, kiln-fired ceramic animal sculptures, mythical beasts, and ferocious monsters made with love.
I think everyone has their own unique vision and each person sees the world in a slightly different way. I see the world in bright colors and cartoons, with a dash of adorable. I take the way I see the world and translate it into the monsters and animals I make every day. I'm convinced that I have the most fun job in the world.
What motivated you to start your own business selling adorable clay pieces? Why did you decide to leave the corporate world to pursue your own business, and how has the experience been for you?
I've learned so much this past year. The biggest lesson: change is scary, but it's also extremely positive.
I had an exceptional job and was doing work that many people would consider ideal, but I certainly wasn't happy or fulfilled in my work on a daily basis; the more years I spent working in my former profession, the more lost and sad I felt. When my company asked me to sign a contract for another two year term, I just couldn't do it.
I remember going home that night in tears, unsure of what I was going to do. My husband, who is awesome, just looked at me and said, "You're so unhappy there, just quit. I'm behind you one hundred percent." I walked into my office on Monday morning and told them I was leaving.
I'd been dreaming of what would become Red & Main for a long time. I've loved ceramics since the first class I took in high school and I'd always wanted to incorporate the thing I loved most into my daily work. On my most difficult days in my former office, I'd troll the Small Business Administration's website and Etsy looking for information and ideas about starting my own business. By the time I actually quit my job, I'd acquired enough information to feel confident about the steps I needed to take to become a small business owner.
Since starting Red & Main, life has been incredible. I'm learning more every day, and there are certainly days when I feel unsure of my next steps. Luckily, I have a supportive system of family and friends who help me get through the tough times. I'm the happiest I've ever been.
What are a few challenges you've faced while mastering your craft and running an online shop? How have you persevered through those challenges?
Owning your own business is a challenging venture. Since Red & Main is owned and operated by me alone, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of everything. Like most artists or writers, I also struggle with creativity blocks; it's hard to be incredibly creative every day. Sometimes I'm just not feeling very crafty and it's an effort to come up with new ideas and new products.
I find a change of scenery to be the best remedy to both a lack of creativity and stress. I try to get out of the studio, get on the Metro, and head to the gym. Exercise puts me in a positive state of mind and allows me time to think away from my work. If that doesn't do the trick, sitting down with my husband or a close friend and running through ideas almost always solves most any problem.
What do you do when you're not creating your new clay pieces? Are you currently in school? What are some of your other interests, hobbies, and activities?
When I'm not creating clay, I'm usually working on marketing or accounting for Red & Main. A couple evenings per week I work at a little café down the street from our house. Working there allows me to get out of the studio, interact with people, and earn a little extra spending money.
My husband is currently pursuing his Masters degree, and when he's done in a year or so I plan to pursue a Masters in Fine Art. In the meantime, I'll keep doing the things I love - spending time with friends, cooking, and collecting antiques.
What are some of your personal and professional goals for the future? What do you think the future will bring for you?
Professionally, I hope to start approaching local businesses and boutiques and begin the process of getting Red & Main pieces carried in stores. Personally, I'm working on gaining the courage to approach people - businesses, schools, etc. - in regard to my art. My mantra for this coming year: the worst they can say is "no."
After this past year, I've learned not to plan too far in advance. A year ago, if someone had told me that I would have left my job to start my own ceramics studio, I would have laughed. So, I try to take each day as it comes.
What professional advice would you give to readers aspiring to a career in the arts or looking to start their own independent shop?
I have two pieces of advice. The first: do your research. There is so much information out there and it can be intimidating to go through it, but it is so important to be prepared. Something as simple as shipping rates or buying supplies in bulk can make a massive difference for your business long-term ... and benefit your customers too. And don't even get me started on accounting and taxes. The important thing - you owe it to yourself and your customers to be informed.
The second: be okay with failure. When I was first starting out, I was absolutely terrified of making mistakes. I called my mom, who is always there with the best advice. She's also a small business owner herself and my personal inspiration. My mom told me, "Stop worrying - you can't possibly do so much damage that you can't recover." She was absolutely right.
So, my advice - feel free to make mistakes, but make sure they're well-researched mistakes.
Where can readers learn more about you and your business?
You can find my work on Etsy (redandmain.etsy.com), Facebook (facebook.com/pages/Red-Main/141831315882816), and Twitter (twitter.com/Redandmain). I also blog at redandmainstudio.com.