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Vicki Read’s personal journey recovering from cancer led her to transforming her hobby of pottery into a full-blown business.

After resigning from her full-time job in aged care, the Great Southern-based potter sought a more flexible job – and in the process found crucial guidance in the Business Local team at the Albany Business Centre.

“When I was diagnosed with a second cancer and I was given a year to live, it was a case of having to change my lifestyle,” Vicki said.

“I threw myself into pottery, certainly not thinking that over 12 years later I’d still be littering the place with my creations.”

Crafting a unique business

Based in Torbay, 20 kilometres from Albany, Vicki makes functional and beautiful pottery, and takes commissions for unique pieces through her business Torbay Pottery, also affectionately known as Wonky Pot Pottery.

“Pottery has been my passion and I’ve been able to develop it into a business,” she said. “A lot of help has come from the workshops provided by the Business Local team at the Albany Business Centre.”

An initiative of the SBDC, Business Local is a network of skilled business advisers throughout regional WA that offers valuable advice to small business operators at no cost. The Albany Business Centre provides the service in Albany and across the Great Southern region.

Business Local advisers are available for one-on-one appointments, for individualised and confidential small business advice. They also offer group workshops on a range of subjects, including business planning, financial management, taxation, leasing requirements, marketing, social media and business expansion.

The business team behind sole operators

“Business Local is an incredible service to those of us who are basically micro, solo businesses, who don’t always have a lot of support,” Vicki said.

“As small business owners, we have to pivot and think of ways we can make the business grow. We’ve done markets, I’ve done pop-up shops, I take part in art trials, but for business basics the advice from Business Local at the Albany Business Centre has been really good.

“It just gives you that extra push-a-long when otherwise you would waste time thrashing around in the water just not getting focused.”

Accessing a range of support

As well as getting the advice she needs, Vicki has taken advantage of Business Local to learn new skills to boost her business.

“The workshops that they’re running now are absolutely fantastic, they’re perfect for where I’m at introducing e-commerce and website design and you’re getting skilful people being able to give you that advice and that input.”

While running a creative business is not the holiday some may imagine, it has brought great rewards and more flexibility to Vicki.

“I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder in my life, but it’s a different type of workload. Being your own boss, you can juggle it to meet yourself.”

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Small business stories
14 April 2022