We had the good fortune of connecting with Casey Giakas and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Casey, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I co-own a small pottery studio and art gallery on St John in the USVI. I think I always knew I would do my own thing, I may not have known exactly what that business was but I knew I was going to have something. It has always been important to me that I live my life on my terms and I also knew that to remain true to myself I needed my job to be creative. I just remember thinking all I need to do is find something I love and figure out how to do it for my job. So I knew early on I needed and wanted to be in a creative and artist environment. Well then I thought well if I’m attempting to do something I love for my job then it just makes sense that to really be able to do what I love I needed to be able to do it on my terms which basically means I needed to be my own boss. Then once I had that realization I think it seemed natural that I would get some experience so I checked out, worked, volunteered, and observed other pottery studios, got hands on experience and saw things that work for me and things that didn’t. I think that set a really solid foundation for me to be able to put together a sustainable business model that ultimately can support my career on my terms.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a potter. I make functional tableware and high-end home decor pieces; such as handmade porcelain tiles and lighting. I think what helps to set my work apart from others and what I am most proud of is one and the same, it is that I have always stayed true to making what I want to make and trusting in that feeling. I have been encouraged by almost everyone I know close to me or not close to me to “brand” my work a certain way to cater to my specific clientele. My pottery studio and small art gallery are located on St John in the USVI. So naturally my clientele wants pieces that remind them of their vacation. I needed to create a style and body of work that represented the natural beauty of St John while still remaining true to myself and what I wanted to make. I didn’t want to be making “handmade” pieces that still somehow felt like commercial pieces, that I was just pumping out, the same thing over and over, really it sounded like nightmare to me and definitely NOT doing things on my own terms. So I didn’t do it because I just couldn’t. It was hard and it took a look of work. After college I worked all day at a pottery studio on St John, that I know co-own, for experience and because I loved it then I would bartend or serve all night, I worked six to seven days a week a lot of times 12-15 hrs a day to be able to make pottery and afford to live on St John (I also had a lot of fun). I was based on St John but spent quite a bit a time at pottery studio in Whitefish Mt and I was a unpaid studio assistant at La Meridiana in Tuscany for a few months. I spent over a decade working in pottery studios, doing work trades, volunteering making little to no income all to gain the practice knowledge and skill to then spend another five or so years developing a body of work that was symbiotic to my natural surrounding whilst being true to myself. Then I had to get my work out there and keep getting it out there, I needed to see what worked and didn’t…figure out what people liked. Always making and trying new styles, glaze combinations, making sure that I was happy with my work but would also be appealing to tourists. It took years to build my style refine it and then get people to see it and want to have it. What I want people to know about my story and me is that I did this on my terms it may have taken longer or a few more try’s but I always did it on my terms and that is something I am very proud of. I hope this would encourage others to also live their lives on their terms. I think when you stay true to yourself in that way things will always have a way working themselves out.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Thankfully its pretty easy to show someone a good time on St John, typically a week is not enough. We’ve got a whole string of white sand beaches surrounded my a national park and tons of hiking trails where you can check out old Danish ruins, sugar mills, etc. It’s a small island so everyone knows everyone or knows someone who does. For St John I think its best to kind of see how the wind blows taking a drive down North Shore rd and stopping at a beach that feels right, dinner out is also kid of nice to stroll and see what looks good its really all wonderful and I am very blessed to love here.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Parents, Wally and Susan Giakas everything starts with a strong foundation Gail Van de Bogurt, mentor, dear friend, business partner
Kelly Landis, Adren Anderson, Erin Moon, Thank you for helping us rebuild
Our Open Studio Potters, you guys keep it all going, I am so thankful for you and all your support over the years
My Brothers, you know
Last but not least my husband and chosen life partner, Anthony Scott it is because of you that I am able to do exactly what I want to do. You will never know how much that means to me.

Website: www.stjohnvipottery.com

Instagram: @casey.giakas.potter

Facebook: Casey Giakas

Image Credits
Sarah B Swan

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