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Art, Business & Life with Diana Palomo and Amy Klingler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Diana Palomo and Amy Klingler.

Please kick things off for us with some background on the story.
The infamous name of the store comes from the owners. The Pigeon is Diana Palomo and her last name in Spanish means pigeon. The Hen is Amy Klingler and she used to own backyard hens before Diana babysat them. Two store owners, each with a BFA degree in ceramics who wanted to use our degrees… so we opened a store knowing each other for only four months!

It all began in 2013, when Diana moved back from the Golden State, Amy back from the Sunshine State, we first met, ironically, sitting next to each other in a local museums ceramics class. Both wanted to focus on making art, so we starting selling our own pottery masterpieces together.  An opportunity to begin a business together literally “popped up” and we decided to open a paint your own pottery store. The rest is history!

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
At the beginning our business, we had no idea what we were in for. The main goal, for us, was to sell our own pottery and make a living with that, but we knew this was a challege because the local market was very limited. Incorporating an instant gratification experience with a paint your pottery studio where could teach people how to paint pottery, make pottery on the potters wheel, and sell our artwork too was a win, win sitation for us.  We then could sell our own artwork and introduce the world of pottery to the mainstream local population.

What we hope others take away from our work is to never give up, you really need a lot of determination and then a little extra in your back pocket for good measure. Our main goal was to make a living from our artwork.  Today our biggest work of art is the Pigeon and The Hen Pottery store we created and that has given us a sustainable living wage. We created our own opportunities by combining deteremination, will, and risk taking because our degrees limited us to many “mainstream” jobs. The odds were against us. No business experience, we knew each other for four months, had 3,000 dollars together, zero loans were taken out, and we decided to write a business proposal in two weeks! A month later, we popped up a store! The supplies Amy had from her mobile paint your own pottery store came in handy and we started The Pigeon and The Hen Pottery Shop. A paint your own pottery shop where customers could walk in without experience and create hand-painted pottery. Currently, we offer Wheel Throwing classes, Birthday Parties, Design Classes, Ladies Nights, Pre-School Story Time, and After School Art Club.

The stereotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
We remember well, the financial challenges! Even though we did not take out any loans, the first six months as store owners was TOUGH!!  Additional part-time and full-time jobs were needed to help with personal funding and we did not pay ourselves for the first six months because everything that we made was used to purchase supplies and materials for the operation. Old pictures of our first year of business with heat lamps, sparsely stocked shelves, and lack of ambiance, make us laugh and cringe at the same time! The odds were against us, but today we believe anyone can do it, even though just writing this sounds crazy to us! But if we can do it anyone can with, determination, drive, and the will to work at least 70 hours a week! We do credit much of our success, however, to not taking out loans. The fear and anxiety of failure was real, but knowing we could go home debt free allowed us to sleep easier at night. We were very resourceful, and shameless in asking for help or supplies that would benefit the growth of the store.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Luckily, our location in Downtown South Bend afforded us the opportunity to work with a restaurants and the local museum and art hubs.  We are looking at doing a spring show with a local art center, creating beer steins for a local brewery each year, plates with a custom glaze for an upscale fine dining establishment– right now there is a huge wheel to table movement. This is an amazing way for us to continue making artwork when we need breaks from managing a business.

The Community tremendously helped support our business by painting pottery. In the beginning, it was the Amy and Diana show! Amy worked in the morning, Diana would come in the afternoon after her teaching gig. We survived originally with volunteers, family members, and friends willing to help us. Five years later, we have up to ten employees and are looking to grow even more!

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