Solo Business Stories: Stephen Moellering knows controlling growth keeps his hand-thrown planters unique. Jackie’s advice helps.

Potter Stephen Moellering’s business has been going in fits and starts. Jackie’s class has helped him begin to manage substantial growth that has occurred in the last few years.

Business Name/What the business does: Stephen Moellering hand thrown stoneware planters

Smiling man wearing a hat, sweater, holding a pot.

Stephen Moellering creates hand thrown planters.

Years in business: Off and on since he graduated college in 1979.  He started selling consignment in 2014 but has moved to almost all wholesale now.

How did you get your start:
“Since graduating college in Missouri in 1979 and arriving in Oregon in 1981, I had been employed in several pottery businesses. In 1987, I set up a studio in my garage and sold at the Saturday Market,”  Stephen says.  “I also took a job in the local supply house. Saturday Market only lasted a year for me. I went back to working in other shops after leaving the supply house.

“In the mid 90’s I started doing the Oregon Potters Association’s Pottery Showcase in the spring of each year. I had been a member for some time. During this time I also took an unrelated job to pay the bills. I was approached by a retail owner in 2014 and managed to get my work in her store. That led to more stores in Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area. I quit my regular job in January of 2019 to make pottery full time.”

What’s working now:

Stephen’s business continues to grow, adding more small wholesale customers.

“My planters are now sold in such stores as Solabee Botanicals and Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply.  Not overproducing helps me keep my product unique and ‘rare,’ and not having a website helps me control my growth.  My accounts are not too close together geographically so as to avoid competition in price, but growth is essential.”

On working with Jackie:
“I am continuing to work with Jackie on pricing, bookkeeping and money management matters. Her positive attitude has been an inspiration. I also met a capable CPA in the Encore and Solo Business Builders class.”

Lessons Learned/ Advice/ Take Away:
“I’ve seen how other similar businesses were run, how they come and go, how their customers and suppliers react to them. I try to have a personal approach to wholesale, try to become an integral part of their retail business.”

Got a product that’s unique and you know people want?  Ready to turn that into a business?

Check out Jackie’s Best Beginnings Online Training.