Artist Spotlight: Colleen Huth

Artist Spotlight: Colleen Huth

Colleen Huth - Colleen Deiss Designs, FOND DU LAC, WI

Colleen Huth, owner of Colleen Deiss Designs is a self-taught slab builder from rural Wisconsin. She started her career in art as an oil painter but soon discovered her passion of ceramics. With the help of a mentor she has grown her small business and is now a full-time slab builder. After a few short years Colleen's work is now displayed in galleries across the nation.

Describe your work.
All of the work is high fire stoneware. Each piece is slab built and pressed with hand drawn stamps, antique lace, or flowers. This is my favorite part because I get to create one of a kind 2D designs what will be visible on functional 3D objects. With a 2D design background, slab building has really become the best of both worlds. Another unique aspect of my work is the fact that it is not thrown on a wheel. Much of the pottery you see today is thrown making each piece perfect and identical. My creations are full of character and no two are exactly the same giving them a true handmade look. With the delicateness of the designs one might think they would need to be hand washed but all of the work is food, dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe.

How did you get started in the crafts business?
I started as a painter straight out of college. I received my degree in 2D design but ended up with a part time job at a pottery studio. The owner had been wholesaling his pottery for years and became my mentor. There, I had limitless space and materials to learn my craft. I chose slab building because it allowed me to incorporate my love of 2D designs into my work. I started off doing local retail craft shows and soon picked up a few whole sale clients. The business has grown so much this past year. I now have my own in-home studio, but am making future preparations to build a larger space.

How long have you been wholesaling?
3 years.
What are your top 3 marketing methods for reaching new buyers?
1. Promoting on social media is so crucial in today’s electronic world. I have found that the more I put out on social media, the more I get back in return. I primarily use Facebook and Instagram as marketing tools. Everyone is connected on these apps and it is a great way for clients to find artists. 2. Local Craft Fairs are another great way to meet clients in your area. It gets people talking about your work and gets your name out there. Someone at a show may have a family member than owns a local gallery that could potentially carry your work. I love talking to people and getting their feedback on my products as well. This way I am able tell my wholesalers what really sells best. 3. Don't be afraid to take some road trips to galleries and boutiques within driving range. What store owner doesn't love to have great products brought right to them. They don't have to do any of the work and you could potentially get a new wholesale account. Although its nice to sit in comfort of your own home and post pictures on Instagram, clients love to see your work in person. Doing this a couple times a year can really help your business grow.

What percentage of your business is Wholesale? Retail? Commission, etc.?
60% wholesale 35% retail 5% commission.

How has IndieMe helped your business?
Yes, I am still getting started with IndieMe but I am very happy with the results I've had thus far.

What advice do you have for new craft artists?
If you are passionate about what you are doing it will always lead you somewhere good, even if it is not what you had originally planned. Keep trying and keep creating quality work. Customers appreciate when they are getting your very best and are much more likely to reorder. Don't be afraid to change a little. You cannot control everything. Some of the things I thought were not going to sell well turned out to be my top sellers. Don't give up, you never know what is going to be your big break!

What advice do you have for new craft galleries?
I find works that make people smile are the first things to fly off of the shelf. The uniqueness and quality of what you sell goes a long way with your customers. Share as much information about the artists you carry and their creation process. Many people are not often exposed to the creative world and are fascinated by all the little details about the piece of art they are looking to purchase.

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