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Sam Nichols Is Grand Master Of The Etsy Pottery Hustle

Sam Nichols breaks down the Etsy pottery game.

Sam Nichols lives the artsy dream. Based in Hell's Kitchen, the artist has her own pottery studio and a thriving Etsy business. Her pieces are distinct; gorgeous mugs with clean colors that just beg to be filled with almond milk lattes. She moved to New York City seven years ago without any particular artistic direction, but ceramics just called to her.

"You’re surrounded by it every day. You kind of fall into it and you meet all kinds of people. I started ceramics when I moved in about a block away from my first studio," she says.

As her love for ceramics grew, so did the stuff accumulating in her apartment. 

"Your apartment starts to fill up with pottery. So the next logical step was, I started to sell online and that went really well." She started doing craft shows and eventually opened her own Etsy store.

You can spend hours on Sam's website perusing her work. There's the Mercury Mug which would be perfectly paired with hot cocoa and the Sunday Times or the large Wake Mug, made for serious caffeine addicts. Everything is handmade, photographed and shipped by Sam and as such, it's a labor of love. "Oh my gosh! So many hours!" she says, on how much time she invests in each piece. In addition to the mugs, she points to her aesthetic eye as a photographer as especially valuable for Etsy. 

"I do have a background in photography, so I think really good pictures of your product or something tangible like that really helps. Really good pictures will get your name out there." She is conscious about branding and wants each mug to represent her brand-- down to keeping a consistent color scheme.

Being successful on Etsy isn't as easy as it looks. Behind the pretty pictures, Sam is a serious businesswoman. "I enjoy being creative on a daily basis, but that comes with the backend: bookkeeping, shipping, all the glamorous stuff."

Additionally, she runs her brand's social media and has to deal with the occassional negative Etsy review. Still, she loves her work and literally touches everything with her name on it. "Literally, hand-made means I’ve had my hands in--and on--every single thing that goes out the door."

[Photos: Cassandra Basford]

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