Each month C&C Profiles pulls the curtain back on the world of entrepreneurship to see the behind the scenes stories of some of our community members. This month we're checking in with Ryanne Maldonado, Founder of Set Fire To It, and David Blakeman, Founder of Field Days Dog Walking (check out his interview here!)
What is one major accomplishment you have had with your business recently?
Right now I'm really proud of how cohesive my work and my branding is looking as I gear up for the holiday season, which is a really busy time for makers and artists. I am lucky to work out of an amazing studio in Logan Square called Penguin Foot Pottery where I act as studio monitor and instructor. Having a mentor, fellow teachers, as well as a bunch of other ceramists at every level of experience means I get to be both challenged and supported on a daily basis. I feel like my work has grown exponentially in the last year.
What is coming up for you and your business that we should be on the lookout for?
I have SO many shows coming up - my first is the Handmade Market at the Empty Bottle from 12-4 on October 8 (https://www.facebook.com/events/1771138093130988/) and every 2nd Saturday of the month from now until April. Also really excited for Show Of Hands, November 18th-20th (showofhandschicago.com) at Architectural Artifacts. And the Holiday Revolution Craft Show on December 11 from 12-6 (https://www.facebook.com/events/306252106403743/). That show was so much fun last year, and I can't wait to do it again!
What does collaboration and abundance mean to you?
Collaboration is paramount in my work. Like I mentioned above, at Penguin Foot I am constantly energized by the creativity of the other makers around me - there is always someone there to talk through a concept, troubleshoot the execution of an idea, or simply empathize with how tired my hands are. We all get to explore together, and we are all better artists for it. I get that same energy from Coffee and Conversation - I actually got my first lead on a pop-up market at a C&C meeting, which led to another craft show, then another, and the momentum from that first little tidbit arguably started my career! It has been my sanity to be around this many people who are forging their own path.
What is one tip you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with good people who will push you forward, and never let anyone tell you that you don't have a "real" job. Being a working artist, a small business owner, or really any lifestyle that isn't structured the way "traditional" jobs are can feel really isolating sometimes, so have people around who understand the work and sacrifices that it takes and who will bring positivity and proactivity into your life.
What is one person, place, or thing in Chicago you have your eye on right now?
Verdant Matter is a fantastic plant shop in Pilsen that stocks all sorts of local artists (including Set Fire To It) as well as hosting really amazing events like a monthly dinner and yoga series called Breathe/Eat. Definitely worth checking out!
Anything else you'd like to add?
Just a general thank you to the C&C community for being so supportive and wonderful! I've seen a lot of members at shows I've done and it means the world to me to get to belong to this crew!