The Creative Entrepreneur, Mica DeMarquez of Mimi Ceramics
Small business is good business, especially if it’s handcrafted in creativity. Mica DeMarquez of Mimi Ceramics is inspired by practical and functional objects, things we use everyday. Her handcraft pottery is produced in Portland, Oregon where each piece is hand thrown on the wheel, kiln fired to bisque, hand glazed and decorated.
Transitioning from working a full-time day job to now a full-time business owner and pottery designer, Mica talks about the non-creative parts of running a business and how she’s creatively giving back to women.
DESCRIBE YOUR WORKSPACE
I currently have my own private studio in NE Portland, in a large space with a bunch of other really cool female artists. It's in a huge, old brick building, with artists ranging from textiles to piñata makers. Then our separate room for just ceramics that I've spent a year building with my close friend & studio mate that is also a potter. We have our own wheels and little workspaces, but we share a bunch of tools and a big common table, which I appreciate because it creates a sense of community that can get lost when you're self employed.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO CERAMICS?
I actually just picked it up as a hobby about 5 years ago, another in a long list of creative hobbies. I went to school for fashion design, dabbled in painting and illustration, but nothing ever really stuck. Until I started pottery! I randomly took a class at my local community college, and something about it just grabbed me and I was addicted. After the class was over I was mostly self-taught, learning from just practicing and messing up, over and over, until I was making things I was proud of. Eventually I had too many pieces crowding my space, so I started selling them to friends. And then it slowly became a legit business!
The point when you wanted to start your business, what was the one difficult aspect that you were able to overcome? And how did you overcome it?
While I still love that I get to make things with my hands as a job, the hard part is balancing that with the non-creative part, the actual business side. A lot of people will tell you, the the amount of stuff to be done behind a computer is overwhelming! I would say I'm generally an organized person... but it can be hard to switch gears from working at a wheel to then organizing invoices, filing taxes, and answering emails. So, after a lot of fumbling, I now have set aside a certain day of the week thats my designated "office" day. That way I don't have to switch gears, and I can really give it my full attention.
Who are some of your favorite female artists and what is it about their work that inspires you?
I'm incredibly lucky in that so many of my close friends are artists, working with completely different mediums. It's been inspiring watching each other's styles evolve and our businesses grow, and how much we have all supported each other in that. For example my studio mate Ashley Hardy @ashleyrhardy (pottery), my best friend Jess Ackerman @sleepyjess (painter & illustrator), and my good friends Lane Walkup @earthtolane (metalsmith), and Lindsay Walker @l.in.z (painter). And that's just a few of the many creative female artists in Portland!
Love the idea behind your Change Series Mug Club, it's sounds like a much cooler subscription since it's a creative surprise every time. What I also like most about it is the charitable proceeds, the current one being RAINN (The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). What are some other organizations or causes that you're personally connected to?
Thank you, I was really excited to start this project! I've supported Planned Parenthood in the past with my business, they're also another organization that has personally helped me in the past. In the future I hope to donate to organizations for LBGTQ+ groups, mental health awareness, and groups that are fighting climate change. There's so much out there, but those are in particular are causes that are personal and important to me. I do plan on doing the Change Series with exclusive items, to give even more opportunities to donate to various groups, hopefully even ones past my personal scope!