Entrepreneurial Perseverance and Assiduity

Last Fall Matt and I attempted to become part owners of the beautiful brick building we have had studio space in for the last 10 years.  We worked hard making wherever we were-better.  We threw an amazing party to celebrate the impending “buy in” and take a step forward in part ownership of the building.  Less than two days before the celebration, the deal was pulled and we were told never mind.

It was heart breaking.  There are all kinds of ways to spin it to look on the bright side, but we poured our hearts into that place and all of a sudden we knew we couldn’t stay.

Since then we have been politely telling artists we have no extra studio spaces to rent.  I pulled back on keeping the gallery full.  Construction in the basement stopped.  The snow fell and we just put our heads down.

For a month or more.  We came to a halt.

And then Matt and I started talking about this building on Logan Street.  It has been empty for around 3 years.  An old funeral home.  Lots of space.  A good price.  Closer to downtown.  But I really dragged my feet.  I wasn’t ready to jump in and figure out plan B.  So I started running more.  Started learning piano.  Put a deposit on some bees-for my new beehive!  Anything but chipping away at plans for a new building.  Occasionally close friends would spark the fire and I would spend a long night sharing the vision of the new place, to immediately table it the next day.  Just for a little while.

Two months went by.

Sitting in a hot tub at my dad’s in Oregon during spring break, Matt and I had another of those heart to hearts about “what next?”  We had a vision for Free Ceramics that became a reality on the shores of Ennis Lake in 2008.  It’s shifted a tiny bit-but six years later it’s pretty true.  With the stars peeking out of the clouds, the conversation was real.  Meaty.  All the what ifs.

When our family returned home from Oregon, it was clear we needed to give it our best.  We needed to try and get this building until at least five or more different scenarios told us we couldn’t get it.  We will keep trying until we run out of ways to try.

A letter was written to the owners.  Meetings were scheduled, discussions continued and they all ended with, YES!  We want to go for it and buy this building!  We want our pottery there, other artists, a cool, fun, artsy space we can share with others.  That letter was read to the owners and within a day, because of their generosity, we signed the first set of papers to make the building ours.

Two weeks later (which, in real estate time, bank time, any time that involves chunks of money and taxes and EIN’s and SOS’ and new LLC’s and blah blah blah….IS NOTHING!)

That’s right.  This morning, Matt and I went to the title company with a dear friend, signed a bunch of papers, dropped the key twice before finally holding it in our hands and are now commercial real estate owners.

Which is all cool and unbelievable and it’s going to be a ton of work.  But it’s going to be awesome.  If you’re an artist that called me in the last 7 months looking for a studio, please call me again.  We are now going to be looking for you.  It’s going to be incredible.

This weekend we are hosting our annual Spring Pottery and Art Sale.  At 1308 1/2 Boulder Avenue.  It’ll be our last art event at this place.  The artists we have-incredible.  The artwork-some of it-even better.  Nathan Haney is printing all kinds of crazy cool creations from his 3D printer.  Eli Kultgen has been meticulously creating “paintings” with duct tape.  Kasey Bergum has been finishing new incredible oil paintings like the one featured on our postcard announcement.

Lauren Brophy, who has been working tirelessly with Matt and I to get Free Ceramics pots ready-will have her own 2D work on display.  Marco Rosichelli sent a new batch of sweet, hip, fun prints. David Peters has been prepping his beautifully made ceramic pieces, made from local clay.  Noreen Lehfeldt will round us all out with her delicate porcelain jewelry that I am thrilled to be the proud owner some spectacular pieces.

And then, after we all show off our art this weekend, WE MOVE!

I just sighed this huge sigh.

Friday night’s reception will be super fun.  We’ll have beer, wine, food, and way more art.  The sacrifice for pulling off what all the details Matt and I just pulled off with our new building, were at the expense of mugs.  Ok.  When I type that out, it seems silly.  But yes, I will not have any mugs at this Spring Pottery and Art Sale.  But I’ll have to be ok with that.  It was completely worth it.  Oh-and way less running.  And no bees.  But I am getting better at piano!  Ok, it’s more than mugs.  But the pots we do have are so beautiful!  I can’t wait to see it all set up.  (And I’ll take special orders for mugs)

I am super excited about what the future has in store for us!  See you this weekend.  It’s your last chance!  Don’t commit this to memory, but we’re at 1308 1/2 Boulder for a few more weeks.  And then come stop by and see the new space in its raw-yet to be transformed state!  We will be at 650 Logan Street in Helena, Montana.  Woohoo!



  1. Maureen says:

    Emily and Matt, first I have to say Wow! and Congratulations on making that very huge step forward. Yay! I love that building, that neighborhood and you are going to be such an amazing addition to the ‘hood!
    And .. I LOVE the way you write, Emily — very inspiring. And real. Good luck with your show, your move, and whatever the future holds for you. May you have bees buzzing in your garden someday soon.
    We’ll try to get to the opening. Really want to come support you.

  2. Mom and Mark says:

    Wow!!! Fighting back the happy tears…oh heck, here they go onto the keyboard. I am so proud of you and so happy that you can fulfill your dreams after such a nasty fall. You guys are amazing!!!Love you lots.

  3. marianne miller says:

    What a great entrepreneur story…I really really wish we could be there to see all of the collective work this Friday…we so love shows..in fact we have become that elderly couple we used to see at all of the openings in town…makes your heart sing to see young people taking risks, having fun, making friends!

    Sending best wishes for a successful venture…looks like the new setting has a bit of a religious flavor or a least rafters that point to the heavens…..taking those souls upward…and is a sign for a dream that will soar for you both….
    Dig in and hang on xoxoxAnteM.

  4. Jill Foote-Hutton says:

    What a wonderful story Emily. A HUGE Congratulations to you and Matt! I can’t wait to come visit and see the dream in person!

  5. Kevin Casey says:

    Great looking studio. I can’t wait to come in for a visit and a look around. What a dream! Happy opening and good luck on the maiden voyage!

  6. Al Flinck says:

    What great news. I can’t wait to see the new digs. I won’t be the first and I won’t be the last but I am hoping when I get back home there will be some space left and we can talk about my sharing. Sorry I’m not around to help.

Comments are closed.