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Thrown Elements Pottery

  • SBDC - Small Business Development Center
  • August 11, 2015

Thrown Elements Pottery Photo
"They really helped me with establishing goals and planning long term."

- Andi Ruhl, Owner 
Thrown Elements Pottery, Arlington Heights, Illinois

Anyone looking for a welcoming atmosphere to create art can find it in Andi Ruhl’s Thrown Elements Pottery, a working and teaching pottery studio in Arlington Heights. The studio offers space for experienced potters; classes for all ages and skill levels; and a fun, creative experience for birthday parties, bachelorette parties, corporate outings, date nights and more. 

Q: Why did you choose to open a pottery studio? 

A: I was a frustrated potter who couldn’t find access to a good studio. Before I opened the studio, I had a life and job outside of pottery, and I got frustrated with commuting to do my own artwork. I wasn’t happy at my job and was ready for a new challenge. I have a degree in arts therapy, and I think that people should have an artistic outlet. Pottery can be a beautiful form of expression, and I wanted to create a space that would be welcoming of everyone, regardless of where they are in the creative process. 

Q: To what do you attribute your success? 

A: My staff, my staff, my staff. I have an amazing, talented, passionate, creative, hard-working staff. It can be hard to find the right person for our dynamic. You need to be a cheerleader, a teacher, a customer service person and more. I’ve been fortunate to find people who can be all of those things. Also, we’ve made a conscious effort to be an affordable, accessible studio for everyone. We’re a competitive entertainment outlet where people can have a great time for a party or an outing, but we also provide a creative outlet for individuals who need a place to create. 

Q: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be? 

A: It’s great to have a passion and an idea, but remember that it has to be a business first. You have to be able to pay yourself, your staff and the bills. If it’s a for-profit enterprise, then run it like one. Develop a really good business plan, and go out and talk to people. Ask other people in your field how they succeeded. 

Q: Would you recommend small business owners use the services of the SBDC? Why? 

A: Yes. As a business owner, sometimes you know what you need to do, but execution is hard. There are a lot of systems and processes to implement and difficult decisions to make. The SBDC can be extremely instrumental in helping to make some of those decisions. They really helped me with establishing goals, negotiating personality issues and planning long term. They can help you think through where you’re headed, what it looks like, and how you’re going to get there. You also can be real and honest with them. They don’t judge. Working with the SBDC is like working with more experienced partners who can provide feedback and additional knowledge. When you’re overwhelmed, they can help you stop, analyze problems and think through solutions.