Seaside Vibes

It’s a rainy morning in Southern California and the garage door is wide open revealing a woman busy at work. There aren’t any cars in this garage – instead it is neatly packed from floor to ceiling with ceramics, paints, tables, shelves, a kiln, and the home-based business “Seaside Vibes Pottery.”

As the rain pours down, Christie Nunan pours slip into a mold of a sea turtle. In addition to the sound of rain, the background noise includes shouting from the house. Her two boys and a neighbor are inside battling with nerf guns, and the dog periodically barks at the excitement, but Christie continues on, aware but focused. That is until the phone rings. It’s her fireman husband Ron, reminding her “Don’t let that sit too long.”

Christie rolls her eyes at the unnecessary reminder, but then admits; “He’s been a huge help. I don’t know what I’d do without him. I can’t even keep up!”

Business is thriving, but especially so since Christie restructured her business model. She started under the name “Picasso on the Go,” a mobile pottery business that serves kids birthday parties, after school classes, and senior centers. Customers paint ceramics, then Christies fires their work and returns it in a few days. “The parties were fun, but draining, and the expectations so high. I had moms ask if my low price included birthday cake! I never meant to be an all-inclusive party planner, I just wanted to bring the art experience.”

Fortunately, Christie didn’t limit herself to just parties and classes. She set up booths at various art shows and festivals throughout Orange and San Diego County where she learned that many people would rather buy pieces she created than paint their own. Christie points to her best seller, a sea turtles with a tiny succulents sprouting from its’ shells. “I can’t even make these fast enough!” Christie explains. “And the sea horses with air plants are also a big seller. People really want gifts and souvenirs and with a beachy theme.”

Ocean-theme is a natural fit for Christie, a beach lover who decorates her own home in the palette of the sea.  She has a degree in Art History and worked for both Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum before starting a family. Her eye for the aesthetic and mind for business both play into her success, and add to that a background in the ceramic business. Her father, brother, and grandmother all own successful pottery businesses in Nebraska, and Christie grew up pouring slip and firing ceramics. “There have been a lot of improvements in materials over the years,” Christie says as she rubs the seam of a sea horse fresh from the mold. “I used to have to sand every piece by hand. We had an assembly line and I got really efficient.”

Christie is not just another stay-at-home mom trying to make money doing something crafty. She is an astute business woman with skills and experience, a woman who saw a niche and filled it. She still works with customers and allows them to create custom pieces, but the only “parties” she throws are at the Senior Center. “I love my seniors,” she admits. “I’m not giving them up.” Her warm and bubbly personality encourages others to create and have fun without feeling judged. Given her temperament, one would assume being able to work with the public would be her favorite part of the business, but when asked she replied; “The best part is opening the kiln. I never know exactly how things are going to turn out once they’re fired. It’s like Christmas morning every time I open my kiln.”

 

Find Seaside Vibes Pottery on Facebook or at Seaside Vibes Pottery

 

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