Val Goutsi: turning a passion into a profession

Val has studied fine arts at the UCA in Kent and ceramic art at the Study Centre for Contemporary Ceramics in Athens.

Val has studied fine arts at the UCA in Kent and ceramic art at the Study Centre for Contemporary Ceramics in Athens.

Val Goutsi is a talented and adept Greek ceramist whose welcoming little shop in Athens hosts, since four years, little ceramic miracles: mugs, cups, vases, bowls, plates, earrings, hair clips, candle holders and many more magical crafts. 

Some years ago, I came upon Val’s Instagram account, @valgoutsiworkshop, while browsing Instagram and followed her immediately. I admire her unique pottery style, awe-inspiring craftsmanship, and hard work, positive energy and unparalleled dedication to her art and clientele. Throughout the years, I have ordered various beautiful ceramics from valgoutsiworkshop, and I have the best impression from Val’s quick and efficient communication skills and help. She is a businesswoman who respects her clients and invests greatly in professional service and trust.

I asked Val to share with us her insights on following her life passion and turning it into a successful business.

“Follow your heart, and you will never have to work a day in your life”—your comment on this advice.

To be honest, I do not agree with this quote. What I do believe is “Work with your heart and it will pay off!”

You are a self-made businesswoman. What are the obstacles you encountered when starting your business?

Having a business in Greece is an obstacle in itself, even more, if you are a woman.

The main issues are that there is no government help for any of the new businesses; even more, they make it as hard as possible for you to open a business, from outrageous taxes to countless delays to getting your papers done. But there is more than that; even if you want to rent a space for your work and the owner is a man( usually in Greece), a man would have to vouch for your integrity most of the time!

You constantly need to prove that you are dynamic and don’t do the job with the “back” of a man!

Also, you realise that even if you pay all your medical taxes etc., there are no laws to protect you if you ever get sick and you need to leave your work for a few days or if you get pregnant.

Being a self-employed woman in Greece is a challenge that requires a huge effort.

What are the key elements for making your passion profitable?

At the age of 27, I reached a point in my life where I was fed up working for others in jobs that I did not love.

Since I was a kid, I have known what I was meant to be, and I have never stopped studying and exploring new art methods.

When I was at pottery school, I fell in love with this applied art, and I knew it was my time to grab this opportunity and combine the art techniques that I know to create something that is mine.

I never knew if I could actually make a living out of that, but I knew I had to try! Struggling is still there, but when I see a new piece, which before was just a lamp of clay, I feel that already my effort has paid off.

What sacrifices did you have to make?

Personal time, not seeing your beloved ones because you don’t have the time, not getting paid for a long time because you need to invest in your business, exhausting working hours and living with constant stress because everything, and I mean everything, depends on you.

What is the role of social media in your art and business?

Social media is a tool that allows you to showcase your work worldwide and not just to the people that pass by your store window, so from that point of view, they are great. However, it is a completely different job from being a ceramist and requires the time of another full-time job, so it could bring results to your business. Nowadays, unfortunately, if you don’t work on social media, it is like your work doesn’t exist. New generations have learnt this way, and most of the time, they judge you first from your content and the number of followers you have and then from your actual work. I believe that it is impossible to have a successful working business these days without good social media, but I do hope that we will find new methods to promote our work.

Creating and promoting. How do you manage your time?

That is a puzzle that I still haven’t solved! You work 24/7 if you want to do both good and if your work allows you to, many people give their social media to managers. I myself want to have full control of the content, so I don’t wish for social media agencies to work with my profiles.

What I try to do nowadays to keep my mind and my health safe is to take small breaks from social media and create a schedule for posts etc., that will allow me not to lose hours from my actual work, which is being a ceramist!

val goutsi workshop
Odyssea Androutsou 34, Athens 117 41, Greece

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