The Clay Collective

The Clay Collective Up-levels Local Marketing Efforts with Help from Digital TBay

By Nancy Saunders

Sara Peters has been making pottery for around 5 years. At the beginning of the pandemic, she and two other local potters, Melesa Hane of The clay Pottery and Crystal Sohlman of P0Ts2G0, partnered to open The Clay Collective. Located in Thunder Bay’s newly opened Goods and Co. Market at 251 Red River Road, the Clay Collective showcases the works of ten local potters and ceramic artists. 

“The goal of our collective is to provide a location, year-round, for people who want to sell their pottery as a business to be able to have an environment to prosper in ... We are all going to share working the store, so there will always be one of the artists running the store when it’s open and I think that will give a nice feel,” says Sohlman.

Peters explains that their business model isn’t in line with the types of pandemic pivoting many businesses have been employing, namely focussing on moving sales online, guiding customers to a virtual store or expanding into distant markets. “Our goal is still to drive people to come to the store; we are very focussed on the local market. We aren’t targeting large numbers of social media followers from out of the local area.” The Clay Collective’s social media strategy is all about driving business to their physical space, where people can view the wide selection of artisanal pottery. As stated on their website, The Clay Collective’s goal is “to help people surround themselves with high quality, handmade goods. When you come to our shop you will find a beautiful selection of ceramic goods, including tableware, such as plates, platters, and bowls; mugs and tumblers; planters; porcelain jewellery; candle holders; seasonal items; and, a variety of odds and ends to make life more joyful.”

The Clay Collective made use of Digital Main Street’s website building grant program offered through the Thunder Bay & District Entrepreneur Centre. As Peters explains, “We wanted a place people could go to find a link to the individual potters and their own websites, advertise special events, post their hours, and collect reviews.” From there, Peters and her partners accessed additional assistance through Digital TBay’s free local mentoring program. After reviewing the profiles of available mentors, Peters booked a session with squad member Brook Dallaire. 

Through three meetings with Dallaire, Peters received guidance and instruction in several areas: setting up Facebook Business Suite; creating a template for a social media content calendar; additional social media tools; and help using programs including Mail Chimp, Google My Business and Google Reviews. 

Peters plans to book additional sessions to access additional mentoring. “Brook took the worry and anxiety out of managing social media platforms, and taught us how to make those tools work for us so that we can spend more time making pottery—which is what we love.” – Sara Peters, The Clay Collective

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