Tell us about yourself:
I'm Debbie, owner and creator of Debbie Wolk Designs. I’m a wife, and a mom of two college aged kiddos. I grew up in St. Paul and now live in Plymouth, MN. I started out in television production after graduating from the University of Wisconsin. I really enjoyed the casting process and was the production manager of a home improvement show on TLC.
Due to the tough hours I had to put that on the back burner when I started my family. I have worked in sales most of my adult life but have kept my hands in creative fields in one way or another. I have always painted and have always loved being creative. I have had my own retail business, done event planning, marketing consulting, managed large scale Home Improvement and Food and Wine Shows and most recently I have produced maker events with up to 30 vendors. As you can see I like to keep busy and I love a challenge. One thing that has always remained consistent is that I love to paint ceramics!
Tell us about what you make now and why you love making it:
In the beginning, I always looked to others for inspiration. Over the years my style has changed and I continue to be inspired by others. I can get an idea from nature, travel, photography, my family and just about everything I encounter. Painting is soothing to me. It relaxes me and helps to feed my soul. It is the one constant that always makes me happy. One of my favorite things is creating custom orders for special gifts. I do everything from platters for weddings, showers and anniversaries to birthday plates, graduation gifts, Mother’s Day and Teacher Gifts. My customer’s love the idea of giving a gift that has meaning.
What did your business look like when you first started?
I have always loved to create! I have been coloring, painting throwing pots, taking classes and crafting my whole life. Almost 25 years ago, when visiting a friend, I saw a beautiful ceramic bowl on his coffee table. I asked where he got it and I was told that his mom made it for him at a local ceramics studio. I called the next day and signed up. I was hooked after my first class and have been painting ceramics ever since.
At what point did you decide your “hobby” had the potential to be a business?
From the very beginning, I always gave my work as gifts. It wasn’t long before people started asking me to custom make pieces for them. I began creating and selling my work and did this for many years just for fun as I had another day job in sales. It was about 7 years ago that I decided to take it more seriously. I began by creating an inventory and then participating in pop-ups around town. This was very successful and satisfying. I also began to curate my own pop-up events. I was producing about three pop-ups per year and invited other makers to join me. I had an annual holiday pop-up that consisted of 20-30 local makers.
2018 has been my most successful year to date. I attribute this to starting to venture into retail stores. This has been such a rewarding experience. I love working with local shops and their customers to add to my own loyal followers.
How did you come up with the name of your business?
(My name) lol. I wanted to make it easy for people to remember and find me on social media and keep it consistent.
Who is someone you follow on Instagram that inspires you and why?
I follow many ceramic artists who continue to inspire me and help to keep the creative juices flowing. I also follow many local makers for the same reason. I would say that one of my favorites is @213water. She is an illustrator who works with water colors. She is local and it is reflected in her work. This resonates with me, as I try to also be inspired by our community and it shows in my work as well.
I find that Minnesotans are passionate about life here in Minnesota and they love to surround themselves with all things Minnesotan!
What has been a highlight since beginning your business?
I recently moved into a studio space in the Casket Arts Building in Northeast Minneapolis. This is something that has been a dream of mine, my whole life. I love being surrounded by other artists in a creative community. I also bought my own kiln. I am now producing the largest amount of work I can possibly create with my own two hands. It has been extremely productive and satisfying.
What advice do you have to share with someone who may want to start a handmade business?
Do not underestimate the power of social media. The combination of my website/facebook/instagram/e-blasts are extremely vital in involving my customers, getting my work out there for people to see and of course to generate orders.
How can people purchase from you/connect with you?
Casket Arts Building
681 17th Avenue NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
A note from Melissa:
I will be featuring amazing makers here on the blog EVERY Friday!! Shopping handmade holds a special place in my heart; there is something that just feels so good when you look at an item you own that someone made by hand for you. I know you will love learning about these talented people and their brands too!
Are you a maker that would like to be featured? Send an email to email@example.com and we will chat about the details!