Making and Selling Ceramics with Brooke Millecchia

This post is part of a series in which we interview successful makers on how they built their business. Today we are interviewing ceramic artist, Brooke Millecchia.

Brooke  earned a B.F.A. in ceramics in 1995, which kicked off her career as a studio potter. She began teaching in 2002, working with intermediate level students to help them become independent professional potters. Millecchia’s work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions around the United States. She lives in Fairport, New York with her husband and two sons, where she runs her business, Brooke Millecchia Ceramics. 


When did you start making pottery?
In 1992, while working towards a degree in graphic design, I decided to take a wheel throwing class. I was terrible at it, but it very quickly won my heart to the point of switching majors before semester’s end.

What inspired you to do so?
It’s funny because no inspiration was there. I was fulfilling necessary credits toward any BFA in graphic design. I had no intention of falling for it.

How long did you learn the craft of making pottery before you started selling it? As a student at WVU, we weren’t allowed to seek out work until we completed the program. Once I graduated, I needed to find a studio space and a kiln. The space was easy enough. I decided to build a wood lol which took the better part of a year. From my first class to the kiln being complete, was five years. If I had had a kiln I could have begun after four years.

When did you start selling your pottery?
I attended my first festival in 1997.

Did you always know this would become a business?
Yes, I did know.

How did you come up with your first product idea?
It really depended on my situation, meaning where was I going to fire and what glazes did I have. I learned to be a functional potter so that’s what I had in my tool kit. For me, it wasn’t so much an idea but a cohesive body of functional work.

Where are your products sold?
My work is sold on my website, Etsy (during holidays), private orders, local galleries and other galleries in other states, and through juried exhibitions and invitationals.

Are you interested in selling your pottery? Brooke is teaching a session during our live online workshop, Making & Selling Ceramics. This three-day live online workshop will give you an inside look at how three ceramics artists built their business. Sign up now with discount code “socialvip” to save $30. See the full schedule and reserve your spot here.

How do you come up with new product ideas?
My ideas are an ever evolving process in my head. I move on quickly, which wouldn’t be sound advice, but it’s what I need to do, as an artist. It’s my fault if no one likes what I’ve made. It has happened and I’ve dealt with the consequences.

What inspires you?
It’s hard to explain…Just the idea of introducing a new concept to replace an old one can carry me on a tangent for years. That very idea is a challenge and it inspires me. 

How did you find your first few customers?
You can always count on family, right?

What type of marketing activities have had the biggest impact on your business?
Instagram, hands down has done more for me in a year and a half than anything else, but that’s me.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to start selling their pottery online?
Instagram and an online site like Etsy. They work hand in hand. Instagram tells the audience where and when your work is selling. Plus, you can gain a following.

Are you interested in selling your pottery? Brooke is teaching a session during our live online workshop, Making & Selling Ceramics. This three-day live online workshop will give you an inside look at how three ceramics artists built their business. Sign up now with discount code “socialvip” to save $30. See the full schedule and reserve your spot here.

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