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Magazine

OUT-OF-OFFICE | Studios and (Home) Studios are the New Office

OUT-OF-OFFICE | Studios and (Home) Studios are the New Office

Maker Mary Anne Davis outside her home studio in the Hudson Valley

Jobs come in all shapes, sizes...and even locations. Once upon a time not too long ago, we associated having a job with being in, or having, an office. Many of our makers follow a less traditional path. We spoke with some of our makers about ditching the office and growing their businesses from home. These often more comfortable and inspiring workspaces are sometimes challenging (especially the more successful you become), yet also rewarding, in their own ways. We love what they had to say, and the advice they had to give:

“We work in a building about 500 yards from my home. Having a separate building for my studio is key for me. I like a bit of separation. That said, having the studio so close to home allows me the flexibility to load a kiln at dawn on a Saturday morning or tend to an unexpected shopper. It also allows me to make lunch for my team everyday. We take a full hour for lunch, never rushing. I have worked hard to find the balance between working and living, developing a sense of community that bolsters me when I am on the road selling work to buyers. I am not only working for myself. I think about the women who work with me and the people who buy my work to use everyday.

Mary Anne, Davis Studio

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“I started my business at my kitchen table, with a notebook filled with my dreams, ideas, and recipes. I began crafting my products at that same table, trying out lots and lots of recipes and experimenting with new ingredients and blends. Eventually my business grew into my current studio, which is my creative space and my retreat.”

Anna, Willow & Birch Apothecary

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"It’s a…Yummy began in my living room — that room was actually my inspiration! Building your brand from your home is a great way to infuse your brand/products with elements of your personality and personal style!"

Jessica, It’s a...Yummy

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“It's not the size of the space that matters, it's what you're able to do with it! If you're savvy enough to be a maker from home, you can figure out how to operate out of a shoebox. Think vertically! Shelving is your best friend.”

David, Armstrong’s All Natural

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“We aren't just building our brand from home, it is our brand. Now, more than ever, people are hungry for a sense of place. This hunger is at the heart of the farm-to-table movement, the explosion of craft beer, and the growing number of makers and do-it-yourselfers. The need for a sense of place is what drives all of these trends — they give us a strong sense of identity and, more importantly, something to share with others.” 

Erin and Jono, Squirrel Hill Design and Craft

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“If you work from home, my advice is get up, take a shower, go for a walk to get a cup of coffee or simply fresh air, then come back and play your favorite music, sit on the [work] bench, and start creating! If you stay in your pajamas or your lounging clothes, the day is over...Good luck and keep up the great work!”

Gabriela, Gabriela Jewelry

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“I actually started my art and design business (Stissing Design) part time in my garage. Good things come from homes and garages: Google, Apple, Disney...and the band Rush…”

Tim, Stissing Design

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“Who needs a garage when you can outfit a sap house? Building our artisanal syrup business from the farm -- including taking over existing space for the project -- was a logical choice. It avoided the debt trap, while allowing us to focus on creation.”

Deanna, Zoar Tapatree

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“Working from home and building my brand has been hard work but really fulfilling. I am able to pick the hours I work, which is especially important when having little ones. Giving me the flexibility I need to fit around the school days and holidays. I think getting into a routine is important, so the distractions of being at home doesn't impact your day. It’s also important to stay connected with other people so you can bounce ideas around and get feedback, not working in a vacuum.”

Sarah, SO Handmade

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“My apartment was the only way to start, because my business was not a business, and it was very small. I wanted to save money, but I also wanted to be around to raise my children (they were very small.) I kept my space very clean, a room separate from the rest of the apartment, and created a welcoming environment that reflected my aesthetic.”

Catherine, Zadeh NY

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"I began designing Workday Wear on my dining room table in the winter of 2017. I was taking a class in pattern-making at SUNY-Ulster. At that time I had no sewing skills, very few tools to work with, and no experience in the fashion industry. What I did have was a passion for designing clothing and a desire to create a cottage business from my home in the rural community where I live.”

Sarah, Workday Wear

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“Don't be afraid to use your size to your advantage. When I began I was ashamed to admit that I was a small maker doing everything myself in my home. I tried to present myself as a larger company that was already established. It's so easy to see big companies and want to emulate them since they've already successfully navigated the startup phase you're experiencing. It's also easy to forget that many people prefer to buy from smaller businesses that can provide more customizable and unique products, and a far more personal buying experience then established companies are able to provide. Once I stopped looking at the big businesses as my competition and began using my size to my advantage I found that my customer base really started to grow.”

Adam, Roosevelt Grooming Co.

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“We started at home and moved to a larger-sized kosher bakery in Brooklyn as our business grew. Prepare yourself for success. I don’t mean in some sort of new age-y, optimistic, manifest-your-own-destiny sort of way. I mean, think long and hard about what success looks like for you and what that would mean for in the day-to-day running of your business.”

Ashley + Kevin, The Matzo Project

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“Aside from it being comfortable, economical, and a great time saver to work from home, it is also challenging. It's easy to get distracted and for others to diminish one's seriousness about one's commitment to the business. My advice is that one must be disciplined about setting a starting time to begin each day and an ending time.”

Joan, Joan Hornig Jewelry

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“I started my business in the basement of my home. Making jewelry was a hobby before that.  Working at my own business made it so that I could be a stay-at-home mother to my 4 sons. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to raise my children and have a business doing something that I love.”

Judy, Garnet Studio

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“Working from home is difficult. But working from home building a business is...well...not for the weak.”

Jennifer, Rooster Studios

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“While I was a stay-at-home mom for our three (at the time, we now have four) young children on our farm in Millbrook, I supported my husband Daniel with his alpaca breeding program. Still I was determined to do something useful and beautiful with this luxurious sheared fiber. I didn’t know much about the fiber, knitting, or weaving, but I did have a background in Marketing and PR, and a genuine interest in sustainable textiles and fashion. Working from my home base provided me a safe, inspiring space from which to learn and grow my knowledge of alpacas, which was so integral to my family and home life.”

Alicia, Alicia Adams Alpaca

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“I work out of my glass-blowing studio. Don’t ever give up on your dream, no matter what you have to do to. If you’re struggling, ask questions, fear no one. All they can say is no.”

Bobby, Bobby Sharp Glassworks

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Running my pottery business out of my home was a wonderful and wild ride. There are many logistical challenges associated with having a pottery studio at home but overall the biggest motivator to move my studio was to establish boundaries between myself and my work. I still handle admin work from home but making pottery and living in the same space was very convenient until it very much wasn't. This spring my partner and I opened a public studio/teaching space that doubles as my production space. The shift in my overall wellbeing and clarity has been a slow but noticeable and I think it was the best move for myself and my business.

Alexis, Tellefsen Atelier

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“It's been extremely rewarding and fun to build The Hudson Standard from home. Our staff works diligently as a team, and we always try to find joy in what we're doing, even when there are unexpected challenges. My advice to any aspiring makers who are starting their business at home is to really love and stand behind your product. If you truly believe in what you're doing, it doesn't feel like work. I would also advise perseverance and patience. Growth isn't always seen overnight, but if you persist with a positive mindset, good things often follow.”

Marianne, The Hudson Standard

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“I first started my business because I wanted to find a way to earn a living that would allow me to be at home with my children. For me, since I was building a business that needed to revolve around the needs and unpredictable schedules of small children, it was necessary that I allowed for flexibility in both the time and the space in which I worked. I started an online business selling needle felting kits, supplies, and felted animal sculptures. As the business and my inventory grew, it became increasingly important to have a designated space in my home for the business so that our family could keep some separation between work and home life. I have just opened a storefront and am enjoying this next phase for my business.” 

Erin, Grey Fox Felting

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“As one with a home studio workshop, my advice would be: treat your home studio workshop as if it were a separate space from your home, not to live in but to make in. Set work hours and a schedule, and don’t get distracted by the small things that always need to be done at home. Make a daily to-do list and stick to it! Make it functional and inspiring. It’s great to be able to work from a home studio, but many find it less productive. And above all, enjoy.”

Elena, SimplyNu