Steamboat Springs The walk into Blue Sky Pottery reveals a lot.
The sign on the outside window doesn’t list business hours. Instead, it simply reads: “If the lights are on, come on in, I’m open.”
But step inside, and hobby and entrepreneurship intersect in a purely 21st-century way.
Owner Deb Babcock picked up pottery as a hobby in 2001 after selling her Michigan-based market research company. She started selling her pieces in 2004 to make a little extra money.
“I thought I was just going to hike and ski, but I found I needed another outlet,” she said. When “I opened my shop, one thing I did not want was to be in a physical location all the time.”
So instead of setting up shop and hoping for walk-in customers, Babcock found Etsy.
The e-commerce website focuses on handmade goods, with 900,000 active shoppers and 25 million members.
And it helped turn Babcock’s business into a model she wanted while also growing it well beyond her expectations.
Since joining the site in 2006, Babcock has shipped more than 30,000 pieces across the world. She’s shipped to most of Europe and recently had a furniture store in Brussels, Belgium, buy more than 50 of her pieces.
Through the site, Babcock’s work has been featured in magazines like AARP, Better Homes and Gardens and a number of different online publications and blogs.
“I know the site draws a lot of people from a long distance,” she said. “I guess (my art) has an appeal. It’s original art as well as functional.”
And what started as a hobby to accompany other interests has turned into a profitable operation. Babcock’s Etsy business pays her rent and for all of her supplies.
“It even adds a little profit, too,” she said.
For Babcock, finding the site changed her hobby into an enjoyable business. She recommends it for any artist or person who enjoys tinkering with homemade goods.
“It’s a nice way, especially in a small town, to get the word out about your art,” she said. “You don’t have to live in a big city. You don’t have to be in a New York City or Paris.”
To find Babcock’s work on Etsy, click here.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com