Work and Money
From Hobby to Wildly Successful Ceramics Business With Brooke Martinez
Brooke Martinez, a ceramics artist from the Inland Northwest, turned her hobby into a thriving business. Martinez is the face and hands behind 2232 Ceramics — a wildly successful handmade pottery line that consistently sells out within minutes.
Martinez has fulfilled more than 4,200 orders. This number doesn’t include wholesale orders or the many in-person markets she’s attended over the years. It’s a large number that gives Martinez a moment's pause to reflect on her success. “That's an amazing number to see,” she says.
How She Got Started With Ceramics
Creativity runs deep within the Martinez family. “My first introduction to clay was through my Nana, who was also a potter,” she says. “She taught my brother and me how to make pinch pots and other small projects.”
Her first pinch pot was created in 1995 when she was eight. Martinez later took a ceramics class in high school. But it wasn’t until 10 years later that she decided to start back up. “One day, I decided I wanted to take up a hobby that would utilize my hands since a lot of my time at my previous job was spent behind the computer,” she says.
Martinez enrolled in a six-week wheel throwing class at a local studio and felt an instant connection. “As soon as the course was over, I worked toward setting up a home studio so I could be on the wheel whenever I had free time,” she says. “I was hooked.”
A Design and Creative Background
Martinez attended The Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising, earning a degree in Apparel Manufacturing and Management. She then spent eight years designing and developing headwear at a fashion accessories company.
“It was an exciting and creative job yet very stressful as anyone who has worked in the apparel industry knows it to be,” Martinez explains. “I traveled to Asia over a dozen times within the first several years as well as quite a bit of domestic travel.”
Turning Her Hobby Into a Business
After becoming a mom in 2017, she found traveling and being away from her family challenging. At the same time, Martinez had found her way back to pottery, started an Etsy shop, and began selling at local markets.
“Orders were slow at first, and that was OK,” she says. “I was still learning, figuring out my style.”
This went on for the next two years. During that time, she increased her wholesale sales and focused her energy on building a social media presence.
“In 2019, I was feeling increasingly burned out with my day job, thinking about pottery nonstop, and wanting to figure out a way that I could be more available for my child,” Martinez says. “I found myself in a fortunate situation — Etsy featured my shop in their email blasts and home page for a short time.”
Instantaneously, Martinez began receiving a considerable amount of attention and orders. Too many orders to keep up with. “I could no longer finish what I needed to do for my pottery work early in the mornings, late at night, or on the weekends,” Martinez says. “I needed more time, and knew it was time to take this thing full time.”
Finding Space To Be Creative
Martinez transformed her two-car garage into her studio space. Acknowledging, “It's still very much a garage, but it's about one quarter garage items, and the rest is fully dedicated to my equipment and workflow.”
Her next goal is to have a full studio with retail space.
Balancing Motherhood and Her Business
Flexibility is perhaps the biggest perk in turning to 2232 Ceramics full time. While she still has childcare for about 4-5 hours during the day, she can take whatever time off she needs because she’s her boss.
“Since I work from home, I'm able to get started early in the morning before the kids wake up and finish up late at night after they are in bed, which I often do,” Martinez said. “As a business owner, I have to wear many hats, and there is never enough time in the day to get it all done. Being a solo maker, shipper, designer, marketer, etc., can be exhausting, but the flexibility is worth it.”
Better yet, her 4-year-old enjoys finding ways to help out in the studio
“She keeps herself busy painting her cup or cleaning my tools while I attach handles or glaze mugs,” Martinez says. “She also likes to put fragile stickers on boxes.”
Advice for Moms on a Similar Journey
“I would just say that you need to be prepared for the beginning years of getting started as a side hustle. It's called a hustle for a reason—it takes a lot of hard work, late nights, early mornings, but if it's a true passion, you'll feel energized by your dreams and will want to keep pushing forward,” she advised.
And having a solid support network also helps.
“I have the most supportive husband; he was the first to tell me I should be doing this full time. He's been so supportive and has never complained about my crazy schedule trying to get everything done,” Martinez said. “I appreciate him so much, and if you have someone in your corner that will encourage you to keep pursuing your goals even when you want to quit, I believe you'll get there.”