Flower Friends, I am so excited to begin a new series spotlighting other passionate go-getters aka as entrepreneurs. My hope is that this series will bring us together in community, help us learn new things, encourage us to keep going, or ignite the flame to bring your own dream to life.
Jen Skilling at Nomad Potters creates hand made/wheel thrown pottery. Her original work exemplifies craftsmanship and we were beyond thrilled when she agreed to make taper candle holders for Middlemist. Haven’t seen them yet? You can check them out here. Jen heralds from a family of creatives. It is so inspiring to learn how she has continued that tradition of exploring and creating through her chosen medium of clay.
Jen, Tell Us About Yourself:
I grew up in Evergreen, CO in the late 70’s and 80’s. Evergreen was a much different place 30 years ago, it was home to a large amount of artists and craftsmen. I learned to sew at a pretty early age, as both my Mom and Grandmother taught me how. Both of my parents were creative in their own way, my Dad is a skilled woodworker, and my Mom would sew and make stained glass. I was very lucky to grow up in such a beautiful place with access to the outdoors. I believe having parents who encouraged creativity and spending time in nature helped make me appreciate simple things. I’m incredibly grateful for that. Especially after this last year. I see how strong my parents are mentally and physically, probably because they are so well rounded.
I went to college at the University of Northern Colorado, initially to be a teacher, but eventually studying recreation management and business, and getting a degree in recreation management. After graduating college I worked in the finance industry, and then as a background investigator for a government contractor. I had a badge and wore a suit daily for many years!! Ha! I laugh about it now, but I enjoyed meeting new people and experiencing new places.
Pottery started as a hobby for me, as I had moved to San Diego, CA in 2005, and knew nobody. I came across a pottery studio in the neighborhood I lived in, and signed up for classes after work. I ended up loving working with clay, and found friends in the other potters who were there. I eventually moved back to the Denver area in 2014, and wanted to continue working with clay. I started slowly buying a wheel, then a kiln, and now I’ve got a studio in my house.
What was the driving force behind starting your business?
I started Nomad Potters in the fall of 2018 on a bit of a whim, as I was building my studio in my house in Green Mountain. I needed a project, so I began making candle holders for a DIY candle shop in Golden, CO called Mountain Lux. I would sell them wholesale to Sharon, and she let me have small “shows” at her shop to sell other things besides candle holders. I started selling my pottery because I enjoy working with clay, and I don’t need 700 mugs. Ha! Actually, I had the opportunity to dedicate some time to creating a business, and I took it. I have an incredibly supportive group of family and friends, and wow, if I didn’t take the opportunity to try this business out, I think I would have regretted it. It is honestly really cool to take a piece of dirt and turn it into a vessel that you can drink your coffee out of. Better yet, a vessel someone else drinks their coffee out of.
What is it about what you do that keeps you motivated and gets you going in the morning?
Anyone that does pottery, or any other type of “craft” understands that it takes a REALLY long time to get things fine-tuned. The one constant is change… and so if you have some failures, you’re constantly chasing the “right way” to do it next time. I’m addicted to the process of clay. It’s really exciting to open up my glaze kiln and see how things turned out. I’m also always trying some new combination or new project, just to see how it turned out. There are times when your firing turns out amazing, and times when everything gets ruined. It’s a rollercoaster. I believe if it turned out perfect every time it would get old.
What advice do you have for other ambitious entrepreneurs?
Try it out. Starting small is a great way to begin. Get your feet wet. I’ve learned so much in the last year, but the biggest thing I’ve learned is that flexibility will serve you well as an entrepreneur. I’ve watched so many businesses rise to the occasion during this pandemic, and am amazed at the innovative way we can work around things.
Photo Credit: Tara Owens, Nature’s Reveal Photography
Middlemist is a boutique floral studio in Golden, CO focused on everyday luxury floral design.