October 5, 2017
We had the pleasure of taking time out during our Austin set-up to visit Samantha Heligman of Settle Ceramics. Through the years we’ve seen Settle Ceramics grow and change, and we were curious to sit down with Samantha and her too cute for words pups for a conversation about ceramics, small business, and aspiring to be your very best self through your work. Meet Samantha!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
The name Settle came from my love of homesteading. I love to cultivate my space and make it something I love to be in. I love cooking and pickling and playing with new recipes. It all just tied together.
What do you love most about ceramics? On the opposite side of the spectrum, what are the challenges surrounding ceramics?
I love that I get to play everyday, I feel like a kid playing with mud and dirt! It’s the best. I love making “functional meets beautiful” ceramics, developing new designs to highlight the food that will soon be on the surface. Honestly, the only thing I dislike about my job is packing up orders and saying goodbye to my work.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
For a long while, I had no life outside of working. Getting a business off the ground is tough. For about a year and a half I was working 3 jobs. It was pretty rough, but I don’t regret it! I can say I did it on my own and that’s important to me!
What has been your favorite moment since creating your business?
When I was able to quit both of my second jobs, I knew I had made it to a major milestone in my business. I was so exciting to see my business flourish and my work be so widely praised by my stockists and customers. It’s really exciting to be at the helm of this venture!
Where do you want your business to be in 5 years?
I would love to be making work for more restaurants nationwide. It’s really fun to make canvases for these amazing chefs. I’m a big foodie myself and love seeing what they do with my designs. Mostly, though, I would love to keep doing what I’m doing in 5 years. If I can keep this going till then that would be my proudest moment for sure!
What is the most important thing you do daily for your business?
Making sure I enter the studio in the right mindset. If I’m in a bad mood nothing gets done; I can’t throw, I can’t concentrate. I think it’s really important to know when to work and when it won’t work, and knowing when to just walk away from it. It ends up better in the long run, that’s of sure.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Be patient with a fire in your belly! Don’t lose your passion if things don’t go your way. What made my business thrive was being confident in the work I make, taking critiques as they came, adjusting to those criticisms to make the work even better. Roll with the punches.
What are some inspirations for your work?
I have had a subscription to Bon Appetite for 7 years. I never knew that dinnerware would be my passion, but when I would flip through those pages I would cut out the plates and bowls I liked. I would try to mimic them in my college studio until I started working on designs of my own, all the while thinking about how meals would look on the plate. I hope one day I’ll get to open that magazine and see my dinnerware on its pages!
If you could learn any other craft, what would it be?
I am actually working on my new hobby! I want to be prolific at the ukulele and banjolele! I love singing but have never mastered an instrument to play along with myself. GOALS!
When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?
I love prowling the greenbelt in Austin with my pups. It’s my favorite thing to do all year round. They love it, getting to run around and play at the water’s edge. I love all the green spaces in this city!
How does the city you live in influence your work?
Oh man, Austin is magical. SO many good restaurants, green spaces, artists, concerts, goings on… the list is endless.
What is your favorite part of your studio?
My studio mates. I finally have a studio full of strong creative women. We all work in clay! It is truly special to be able to work with other women who have the same passion and work ethic as I do. We all make very different work, and learn from one another strengths and weaknesses.
What is the latest project you’re working on?
My new brain child will be working on a ceramic chair of some sort. I was invited to participate in a group show for EAST this year. I’m looking for to stretching my creative muscles and figuring out how of make a chair of out clay!