Stacie Porter Brown Celebrates Two Years Owning The Clay Spot
Tuesday, July 14th, 2015
The Clay Spot, a paint-your-own pottery studio, has been a fixture in Albany for the past seventeen years. Despite the business’ longevity, it has seen a change of ownership five times since its inception. Stacie Porter Brown, a Georgia Southwestern graduate with a Bachelors in Fine Arts, took over the business in mid-June of 2013. Over the past two years her goals have been to grow and expand the business in a number of ways, as well as communicating the fact that The Clay Spot is not just entertainment, but also an experience.
After sitting down with Stacie, it won’t take long for one to see her passion and dedication, as well as her drive and deep seated work ethic in regards to her business. She replied to a series of questions from albanyceo.com in celebration of her two year anniversary of ownership.
Do you feel that The Clay Spot’s longevity and establishment in the community made it easier to take on because it was a changing of the hands situation versus building it from the ground up?
Oh yes, I cannot even fathom starting something like this from scratch, so I commend all the owners before me. I’m the fifth owner and it’s always been female owned which is really cool to me. I feel like each person put their mark on it, and I never want to take away from what any one of them did. I want to add to it.
How do you feel about the past two years of ownership? Do you feel like The Clay Spot has grown?
I feel like the business has grown a ton. The Clay Spot is a staple in Albany but it’s a staple so many people still don’t know, so I tried to focus on promotion. Facebook and social media have been my number one tool for marketing. However, I also depend a lot on word-of-mouth and providing good customer service is a way to ensure that. Customer service is our number one asset.
Tell me about your customer base, do you feel like it has diversified over the past two years?
Yes, I do. When I took over, I felt like people thought it was just a place for kids and girls. That kind of stigma is changing, I’m seeing a lot of moms bring their sons, but my adult base has grown as well. I really increased that with events like girl’s night, private parties, and work get-togethers. It’s only been two years but I already feel like I’m starting to see that change and growth.
What are your goals moving forward? Where do you see the business going over the next few years?
I would like to expand into doing more off-site events. I can come to you, I can come to your office…we did an ornament painting fundraiser with Lee County Pre-K last year and it was really successful. I was able to give back about three or four hundred dollars that they made and I really like to do things like that.
Do you think people have pre-conceived notions about the studio that affect business? For instance, do you hear the phrase, “I’m not an artist” a lot?
Oh, I hear that all the time! People have those notions of, oh—I don’t like to paint or, oh—I’m not an artist, and what they don’t realize is that we are here to help as little or as much as possible. It’s actually very therapeutic to come and sit down and just paint. There are no rules in art, you can do whatever you want and just let go. This is your piece of art and it’s not going to be like anyone else’s. Anybody can do it, anybody.
What do you think your greatest challenge is going forward?
With the economy, I’m constantly fighting that entertainment dollar that’s not very prevalent these days. But that’s why we try to go above and beyond and sell the experience. When someone walks in the door, I feel like this is an extension of my home and I want them to feel as welcome as possible. I don’t feel like the Clay Spot is just a paint-your-own pottery studio, I feel like it’s an experience. You come back in a week, and you have a tangible thing that you can put in your cupboard or put on your shelf and I think that really sets us apart.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to own a business and what qualities or skills do you think it takes to be a small business owner?
Do your homework. Being a business owner is the most rewarding yet the scariest thing that I’ve ever done in my life. People have this fantasy of what it means to be a business owner but it’s not glamorous. You have to have a lot of confidence, determination, and you have to be able to roll with the punches. It’s also important to know how to work in your business but also on your business. It’s not hard to be in it, I’m in here every day, but on the other hand there is all this back of the store stuff; the bills, the accounting, the ordering, the supply, and you have to be organized. So you really need to do your research and make sure it’s something you think you can handle.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of the past two years?
Some of the relationships that I’ve built with my customers, I can’t tell you the stories, the tears, the emotions that I’ve experienced with customers over paint brushes and paint. I feel so blessed by my customers, I cannot stress enough how supportive they’ve been of me. They make The Clay Spot. Yeah, I do all the work, but they make The Clay Spot.
Establishments like The Clay Spot are a part of what enhances and enriches Albany in many ways. Congratulations on your growth and success over the past two years and we look forward to seeing what you do with The Clay Spot in the future.
Thank you so much, I don’t come from a family of business owners, I don’t come from money, but it was something I felt like I was called to do. It’s the best decision I ever made, hands down. The Clay Spot is what I’m supposed to be doing and I never thought I’d get to be one of those people who could say that, but I can. I can honestly say that I’m exactly where I need to be.