A Chat with Robyn Molnar of Nightshift Ceramics Hazil Studios

A Chat with Robyn Molnar of Nightshift Ceramics

Welcome to an exclusive interview with Robyn Molnar, the talented owner and maker behind Nightshift Ceramics. With a passion for vibrant colors and cheerful details, Nightshift Ceramics has become a modern ceramics brand that adds a handmade touch to any space. What began as a hobby and part-time endeavor selling unique creations at local markets has evolved, with hard work and dedication, into a full-time career, allowing Robyn to share her work with a growing audience. Join us as we delve into Robyn's creative journey and learn more about the inspiration behind her remarkable ceramic pieces.

Hi Robyn! I’m so excited to be talking with you today - Nightshift Ceramics is such a fun, beautiful, and upbeat brand, and, reading your story on your website, I very much get the impression that you are a force of nature and just totally crushing the entrepreneur thing, which is so inspiring. 

Here at Hazil Studios, we've worked with hundreds of clients, the majority of whom are entrepreneurs looking to get into the space of eCommerce by turning their passion projects into full time careers. You are a shining example of someone who has done just that! 

To start, I was hoping that you could speak a little bit about your story, how you got started, and what went into the decision of deciding, yes, I’m going to pursue Nightshift Ceramics full-time.

For sure! Honestly, it all started off really slowly. In the beginning, I took a small jewelry making ceramics class for fun. It was just an afternoon thing, but I really loved it, so then I decided, oh, I want to try more of this, and things just went from there! It was a little hobby for me at first. Then, at that time, I was actually working for a small business that created workshops and events, and one of their events was a maker's market. My boss told me I should try selling my pottery there, so I decided to give it a try, and people bought my ceramics! I decided to keep trying more. That’s how it went for the first two years - it was super small in the beginning, but after a period of time, I actually started receiving requests for wholesales and whatnot. It was at that point I started thinking, ok, maybe I can really do this. 

Eventually, I reached a point where I couldn't do both [jobs] anymore because Nightshift was just getting so busy. I finally made the decision to pursue Nightshift full-time in the winter of 2020, and then maybe two weeks later the [Covid-19] pandemic hit, and I thought, oh my gosh, was this a huge mistake? But actually that year turned out to be really good! As did the following years. So, it all kind of just went from there and took off. People were online a lot in 2020 for obvious reasons, and I think that really helped me take off in eCommerce. 

Amazing! So, I know Nightshift Ceramics uses Squarespace as a platform. Did you feel at all intimidated about starting your online store? Was it more of a, “yes, I know how to do this" moment, or was it more of a “learn as you go” sort of vibe?

So, the small business I had been working for sold custom watches and similar items, so they always had a Squarespace site, which is a huge factor in why I went with Squarespace. I was fortunate to learn a lot [about Squarespace] working with them - aspects like, the backend and how to set everything up, so it wasn't super intimidating. Also, I did start with Etsy too, which is another platform that's very intimate, very accessible. I was able to set up a shop and jump in without the pressure of a “full launch” sort of thing.  

Were you solely on Etsy first? And then you made the switch to Squarespace and simultaneously maintained both?

I started with both [Etsy and Squarespace] at the same time because I did always want to have a website of my own, but I also wasn’t sure if I would be able to bring people there. That’s why I also started on Etsy - there’s a whole community of shoppers already there to tap into. Even now, a good portion of my customers come from my Etsy page. 

Oh, interesting. A lot of times we notice people who started on Etsy are looking to expand to an online store because an independent platform allows them to build and own their own brand instead of being stuck within Etsy’s shop restrictions. Did you feel that having your own store was helpful to building Nightshift’s brand identity? 

Yes, I definitely love having my own website where I can shape how I want it to look. I try to keep the pages cohesive and organized. I do find the Etsy platform has limitations in the sense that you can't really create a full shop there. 

Do you have a landing page on your website that you're particularly proud of or that you would strongly recommend to other store owners?

I love my Shop page! I love how the colors and products all come together as a full cohesive line. 

Branding is often seen as the heart and soul of small businesses. Could you speak to how you choose your wrapping and shipping materials so that when people receive your product they know instantly it's a Nightshift Ceramics purchase and that they are receiving an extension of your brand

Yes! For shipping with pottery, the first question you need to ask is how is this going to get there safely? I always use kraft paper and cardboard to package the ceramic effectively. Then, since kraft paper and corrugated cardboard might not be the most aesthetically pleasing, I try to find a pop of color tissue paper to bring some fun back to it and finish with a logo sticker to pull it all together. That way it can always look good, but I know it will also arrive safely - which is the most important. 

I feel like safety is key with pottery!

Yes, definitely. I learned a lot in the beginning when I was starting out. You know, I did have a few things that ended up breaking. I just always try to keep getting better and learn as I go. 

Again with branding, your product images are *chef’s kiss* How did you go about choosing the colors and style for how you display your products on your website? Is this constantly evolving, or do you think you’ve hit the, “yes, this is Nightshift Ceramics’ personality in a product image'' sweet spot?

The colors are all ones that I love! They’re mostly kind of bright and poppy ones. In the beginning, I was trying a few things out but also had to work with what I had. I didn't really have a lighting kit or anything like that, so natural lighting and DIY backgrounds were the way to go. It was all sort of based on the scrappy mentality of, how can I make this work with what I have? 

Sometimes now I’d love to get into more moody backgrounds for the product photos, but somehow they always still end up bright and poppy! I just sort of almost can't help it. But, I feel like it is always evolving as the products grow and evolve. 

That’s fantastic! I’m seeing that you have a really wonderful presence on Pinterest - has Pinterest been a major factor of your marketing strategy? Do you feel it’s been easily accessible for you to connect with your main online store?

Yeah, Pinterest is definitely something I feel like I'm still really learning about in terms of marketing. I've just always been on it, so I started a personal page. I add a lot of stuff that I'm inspired by or interested in to my page, and now I also add my own products [from Nightshift Ceramics] too. It has been pretty easy to connect with my online store, but I feel like I've only really scratched the surface of trying to use it for marketing purposes. 

How do you define success in the eCommerce world? Does that differ for you personally as a business owner vs. how you see success for your business? Or are those two the same thing for you?

For me personally, when I feel successful in my business it is not necessarily based on money. It's more having freedom to choose my schedule and make the products that I want to make and do what I want to do. That feels like a success to me. Which then I guess success in the eCommerce world really does have to do with sales and being visible on different platforms and just being out there as much as I can. That’s very important, but ultimately, for me, success is just getting to do what I love. 

And if you could go back to yourself at the beginning of your eCommerce journey, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to think about my long term vision when building my business. Looking back now, I would make decisions based on what I immediately needed to do - for example, let’s make a website, what is the easiest and simplest way for me to do that? But I think if I could have thought a bit further out in terms of, how do I want to see this growing in a few years and allow space for that? That would have set my present self up better for success. That’s what I’d tell myself to do. 

A big thank you to Robyn for sharing her experiences with us. Don't forget to check out her pottery at Nightshift Ceramics to see all of her fun and wonderful creations. 

If you're interested in working with Hazil Studios for your own eCommerce store or have any further questions, contact us here!

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