Catonsville Patch: How long have you been in business in Catonsville?
Michele D’Anna: We opened on April 13. It’s been four months!
Patch: Why did you choose a paint your own pottery business?
D’Anna: I have fifteen year old twins, a boy and a girl. When they were little, I discovered the paint your own pottery shop in Ellicott City and it was a great little spot. I loved taking the kids there. Then they closed down and I literally cried. I thought, We should do this. And I kept on dreaming and talking about it.
Patch: Are you an artist yourself?
D’Anna: I’m not; I've always worked in R&D as an ocean data analyst and most recently--in IT communications. But I do have a creative side, so I pursued a master's degree in Design and Communications. I use that experience in my "day" job, but the real payoff has been at The Pottery Cove, which is so different than everything else I've done.
Patch: Why did you choose Catonsville?
D’Anna: I’ve been dreaming and thinking about doing this for so long. I’ve looked at rentals in Catonsville for years, but I kept putting it on the back burner. Then last summer I saw that this spot had a big For Rent sign on it and I got spun up all over again. And I thought, This is it. Do it or stop talking about it.
Patch: What do you like about being in Catonsville?
D’Anna: I did not want to be anywhere else. I live here. My kids have lived here all their lives. Plus I thought that this was something that Catonsville could use. We are doing so much around this part of Frederick Road and I wanted to be a part of it.
Patch: What services do you do?
D’Anna: Paint your own pottery means that the pottery pieces are already made and you choose your piece as a blank canvas for painting your own unique design. Then you leave it to be fired which takes a week.
Patch: Do you have your own kiln?
D’Anna: It’s in the garage, a separate building right next door. That was a deal maker, getting that space. I’m hoping that business will build enough for me to get another kiln because the process takes so long. From start to finish, it takes up to thirty hours to fire the kiln.
Patch: Do you have any specials for customers?
D’Anna: I’m doing different specials every month, which people can find on our website. I will be running some of them consistently, like a kids’ night with pizza or grilled cheese every third Friday night, and ladies’ nights every first and third Thursday evening. Then we’re going to start some workshops too, like this Thursday will be Football Mania with team colors and football themed pottery.
We also do birthday parties and other special events. The Red Hat ladies came here; they were awesome. Couples come in for date night. It’s a good place for teenagers to hang out; it’s safe and affordable.
Patch: What’s one of the hardest things about your work?
D’Anna: Because I work a full-time job, the hardest thing is balancing my time. Plus I am a single Mom with two teenagers, so my life is very full. I have so many ideas that I want to do here. I wish I could make everything happen at once, but this is helping me to learn to be more patient.
Patch: What are you proud of?
D’Anna: I am happy and proud that I was able to open the shop. I wanted to show my kids that you should pursue your dreams and not spend your life saying, “I should’ve, I should’ve.” And I’m proud of my kids and my family for being supportive of my doing this, proud and very grateful.
I’m also extremely proud of my employees. I have three college girls who work here. Kim and Jaci go to UMBC and Maura goes to MICA, and they are all fantastic. I couldn’t be luckier to have them.
Patch: What’s your favorite thing about your work?
D’Anna: When customers are happy. I want other people to have the fun that I had when my kids were little. I also really love the atmosphere in the shop. I like being here; it’s a respite, a get-away.
Patch: What are you looking forward to?
D’Anna: I’d like to frame in and finish the garage and make it a dedicated party room.
Patch: What is one thing you think is needed in the business community in Catonsville?
D’Anna: Something else? We have a lot!
My cousin was considering a dessert bistro, and I thought that would have been a great idea—kind of like Vaccaro’s. We’re Italian and we grew up having cannoli and espresso after dinner.
Patch: What's the best piece of advice that someone has given you when it comes to running a business?
D’Anna: I remember what cemented this for me. A gentleman I work with confided that his father is dying and he is preparing by reading tons of books. One common theme was that older people have so many regrets. So I said to myself, I’m going to do this, even if it doesn’t work. How else will I know? Of course, I had done the research, but that was what made me take the leap. I didn’t want to have the regret that I never tried.