Taking a Shot
by Jane Ledwell
Suzanne Scott has just had a photo taken as part of a PEI Business Women’s Association partnership with photographer Rachel Peters to give Island women entrepreneurs up-to-date professional headshots. Suzanne needed “multiple outfits,” to portray her multiple sides: an outfit to show “the casual laidback professional that being a potter is,” and “a blazer to portray the side of me that is doing speaking, training, and (being team leader for) Etsy Artisans of PEI.” (Etsy is the online artisan emporium.) Suzanne is a leading light among a new generation of Island artisans making and marketing handmade wares.
The headshot won’t include hats, but Suzanne wears lots of those. “Some days I wear all my hats in one day,” she laughs warmly. She recalls the PEI Craft Buyers’ Market, where “I was there as President of the PEI Crafts Council, as a buyer for Village Pottery” (where she’s a potter with her mother), “and as a speaker at a session on social media—and in the breaks was doing Etsy promos and on my phone tweeting communications for the Crafts Council. Those are the days I live for!”
There may be a number of those days in 2015, which is Canada’s Craft Year, a nationwide, year-long celebration of crafts, which will see special events across Canada, including a major exhibition at Eptek Centre. “I love that it’s a big survey of Island artisans and all mediums, all summer long,” says Suzanne.
Suzanne is team leader for Etsy Artisans of PEI, a team that supports artisans to do online selling but has also set up successful pop-up local markets in PEI. “It’s so exciting. I love being involved in this team,” Suzanne says. “Some of the best-selling Etsy Artisans are based here on PEI.”
Suzanne always loved both making and selling pottery. “As a little kid, I was so into being into the clay,” she recalls. As she got older, she loved being “out front in the neon sweater, hanging out in the shop,” and by the time she was a teen, she “loved interacting,” but her mom, Village Potter Daphne Large, also insisted, “Do something with yourself, make something—you can’t just sit idle.”
Suzanne says, “Sometimes I say I have a ‘bipolar career.’ In the summer, I’m commuting to New London and talking to tourists all day long. In winter, I’m in my studio in Charlottetown, not talking to anyone. I’ve just finished a new production space in town, with a new kiln, and am working on meeting production deadlines of 250 pieces of pottery a week.”
Suzanne’s focus on making and selling extends to her role as president of the PEI Crafts Council. Suzanne says, “I feel like a kind of bridge bringing together old and new.” She hopes she is helping “older artisans embracing the online, social media—creating more awareness that it’s where everything is going, especially for our seasonal Island.” She hopes she is helping the younger artisans by “showing that the quality has to be there. The PEI Crafts Council’s high standards are ingrained in me: the time you have to put into it.” Making a handmade craft “has to be done with love and thought, and over time you get better and better at what you do.”
Suzanne says, “I do see a lot of opportunity here in PEI. If you find a niche or something you’re passionate about, there is a chance to run with it. Village Pottery would not exist in Toronto. It’s so dependent on New London, on Anne of Green Gables, and on rural PEI.” Suzanne has lived and travelled all over the world but says, “I still feel like I’m travelling around the world every day at Village Pottery, through all these people I get to meet.
“I hate sitting at the computer now,” Suzanne says. “The clay really demands your attention. When the clay is getting dry, or a handle needs to be attached, I have to drop other things.” Her personal goal for the year is to “try not to do everything.” It may be hard. Potters are hands-on types. And whatever her headshot portrays, Suzanne says, “I still have clay under my fingernails.”