The Rebels Feature | Robyn - Nightshift Ceramics
Welcome to The Rebels, our feature series aimed to inspire women and share information between entrepreneurs. We highlight women that inspire us, that share our hustle and our drive. They are bosses, creators, artisans, business owners, those that rebel against the normal society expectations and do things differently. Those that think outside the box, try a new path and dream big. We want to tell their story!
Introducing Robyn Molnar - owner of Nightshift Ceramics
Photography by Eryn Shea Photography
Connect with Nightshift Ceramics:
"I really just wanted to follow my own rules" - Robyn
We interviewed Robyn to find out what motivates her, what she is passionate about, and her plans for the future. Here is what she said.......
How did the idea for your business come about? It happened very randomly. I was in a phase of signing up for a lot of classes as something to do with my free time. I took a ceramics workshop and really loved working with clay so I kept going back to it. I was working for a company at that time that was having some small markets in their space and I sold some of my ceramics there. In hindsight, they were really not great pieces, but people were interested so I kept making more and learning more.
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur? I think really I just wanted to follow my own rules. I worked for many small businesses before starting my own, and that was great at showing me how it’s all possible and taking some of the fear out of it.
"My evenings are free of work. I also try my best not to work at home, although sometimes that rule does get broken"
How did you come up with the name for your company? It actually was my “night shift” job. Up until only a few weeks ago, I have been working at least one, sometimes two other jobs while doing this one.
How have you been able to build your business without funding? I have only been able to build it by growing very slowly. I put money back in as I made it, but it has been very gradual. I’ve been at it for about 4 years, and only the past 2 have been really taking it seriously. It’s a long road!
" It actually was my “night shift” job. Up until only a few weeks ago, I have been working at least one, sometimes two other jobs while doing this one"
- How did you, or are you currently, building a customer base? Instagram has been huge for getting people to see my work. Also through wholesale relationships I have been able to grow my reach beyond my city.
- How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful? I am still learning this! I mainly just use instagram to market my work right now. I haven’t done much paid advertising or anything like that because I am not sure how to do it in a successful way, and because I am only one person doing everything, I need the growth to be at a level that I can manage day to day.
- How many hours a day do you work on average? I work about 8-10, depending on the season. September - December gets really busy so some weeks I am working many more hours each day.
"I am ok with working a lot for something I love! I am also able to recognize when I am just way too tired to continue or in a bad mood. That’s when I know I need a break, but it can be a long period of continuous work before I get to this place"
- Can you describe/outline your typical day? Every day is different, but I do keep a basic routine. I typically get into the studio around 9am. Usually, I’ll respond to emails and then I try to do any making in the morning, when I feel my attention span is longer and my best quality work is done. I try my best to get out of the studio for a break around noon. Either just to grab lunch or I often drop in to a thrift store that’s nearby. (thrift shopping is my #1 hobby haha) In the afternoon I’ll typically pack orders or sometimes do photoshoots of my items. I have a very DIY set up which works great with the natural light I get through my studio window. Sometimes I’ll glaze pieces if they are ready for that or throw more pots on the wheel. It really just depends where everything is in the production process. There is a lot of waiting for the right timing in ceramics
- How do you find work life balance? You know honestly, I don’t know if I have it. But I try not to feel guilty about that! This is I want to be doing with my days, so I’m not watching the clock waiting for the day to be over. I am ok with working a lot for something I love! I am also able to recognize when I am just way too tired to continue or in a bad mood. That’s when I know I need a break, but it can be a long period of continuous work before I get to this place!
- What are the things you hold most important when you have free time? Are there non-negotiable things you do for yourself to ensure you stay balanced? The one thing I will say I do is not work evenings. I worked so many retail jobs in the past where my days ended late and I don’t want to go back to that! My evenings are free of work. I also try my best not to work at home, although sometimes that rule does get broken.
"To me success is freedom. Freedom to make my own schedule, to choose who I work with, and freedom to create what I want"
- What motivates you? I love doing this work, it’s so fun to me (and also quite challenging at times!). There is so much to learn with pottery, and I feel like I have only scratched the surface. I’m always motivated to learn more and to keep pushing myself.
"I have had small moments, like walking up to my studio in the morning and thinking- I made this life from nothing. This was an idea and now it’s real. There have been points in the past when i couldn’t imagine something like this for myself and to be living it can sometimes feel surreal. And awesome! :) "
- How do you define success? To me success is freedom. Freedom to make my own schedule, to choose who I work with, and freedom to create what I want.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur? I love being able to bring ideas to life and share them with people. It is so cool to me that these pieces that I have made, that truly come from a place of happiness for me, can be passed on to others. It’s so amazing to know that people are using and enjoying something I created in their homes.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business? I don’t think I’ve had a moment of like ‘this was my greatest success!” or whatever. But I have had small moments, like walking up to my studio in the morning and thinking- I made this life from nothing. This was an idea and now it’s real. There have been points in the past when i couldn’t imagine something like this for myself and to be living it can sometimes feel surreal. And awesome! :)
Do you have a favorite podcast or Youtube channel or book that motivates (motivated you), and if so what is it? Yes, I listen to podcasts all day long and especially love entrepreneurial ones. Some favourites are How I Built This and Second Life. I’m also very inspired by fashion and I love B.Jones Style YouTube channel. She creates the best thrifted looks!
What are your favorite phone apps, computer software , websites that you love to use the most for your business? Well, of course Instagram! And related to that I use VSCO, Snapseed and Planoly to edit and organize my photos. Also, Paypal and Square are important to my business, as well as Photoshop and Illustrator. Couldn’t get by without them!
"Start where you are! Even if you haven’t been able to move on from your current position, what can you learn from the job you are currently doing that you can take with you? Say yes to things you don’t know how to do to learn more. Take a class in something you are interested in, be curious!"
- If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently? When I was in my twenties, and saw my peers succeeding while I seemed to be flailing, it was hard to enjoy the moment I was in. If I could do it again I would just enjoy that fun, awkward time instead of constantly worrying about the future.
- What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Resilience, discipline and patience. It takes (or it took me) a LONG time to see some success, and that required putting in the hours, every day. Also, you are going to get thrown curveballs so many times and you have to be able to get back up again and again
- What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule? The good old fashioned to do list! I try to write one at the end of the day, so that when I come in the next morning I can get focused quickly
- What piece of advice would you give to those who want to become entrepreneurs or those that specifically want to do something similar to what you are doing? Start where you are! Even if you haven’t been able to move on from your current position, what can you learn from the job you are currently doing that you can take with you? Say yes to things you don’t know how to do to learn more. Take a class in something you are interested in, be curious!