District Boss: Kate Hardy of Hollow Work Ceramics

Step into the Northeast quadrant of the District of Columbia and you'll find yourself in Kate Hardy's ceramic studio, Hollow Work Ceramics. Her expertise in museums and ceramics allows Kate to create moving pieces based on peoples' relationship to images, objects, spaces, and each other.

BELOW, WE HAD THE PRIVILEGE TO INTERVIEW KATE AND LEARN MORE ABOUT HER JOURNEY ON THE ROAD TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP... ENJOY! 

1// What is your business? Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hollow Work Ceramics is a small batch pottery studio in Washington DC specializing in unique handmade table and drink ware. I grew up in Baltimore and went to college in DC at the Corcoran.  It was there that I fell in love with clay, and I’ve been working with it for the past 20 years. 

2// What lead you to where you are today?

After receiving my BFA, I went to Cranbrook, a small graduate program in Michigan, where I received my MFA in ceramics.  It’s this time of my life, at this school, that really shaped me.  Cranbrook is a very small progressive program rooted in traditional craft and its history, but students are encouraged to think outside of the box and because of this, I barely touched clay while I was there.  I began making work about how objects exist in the world and in people’s lives, about museums, about display, and about collecting.  I used a lot of images of other people’s belongings, and I ended up taking more pictures there than making pots.  As I was nearing graduation I realized that I didn’t want to take the traditional path of teaching to supplement my income.  I wanted to do something completely different, that I could use to inform my own studio practice.  So I decided to continue my schooling in museum studies, and I ended up back in DC at George Washington University where I focused in Collections Management.  Now I split my time between museum contract work and being a potter, but lately I’ve been leaning more towards my studio work.  

3// What’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur? The best part?

Honestly, the most difficult part is figuring out how to make enough money and how to make it consistently enough to survive on. 

THE BEST PART IS NEVER BEING BORED.  I WAKE UP EXCITED EVERY DAY. 

4// How do you stay motivated and continue to grow, personally and professionally?

I can’t imagine not being motivated to continue to grow, because it’s rare for me to be truly satisfied.  Only a few times in my life have I looked at something I’ve made and said, “This is perfect and can’t be improved!”  I believe life follows suit.  If you stop questioning and changing then you become stagnant. I’m continually striving to create better pieces, both aesthetically and functionally.  Each batch of pots I make is an improvement on the last one, and every time I unload the kiln I examine my work with a critical eye and think about what can be better.  This is what motivates me and makes me excited to sit back down at my potter’s wheel. 

5// What’s your nighttime routine?

It depends.  If I have a looming deadline, then I’m working. This is a major benefit to living above my studio. Otherwise, it’s dinner, help kid with homework, Netfix, read, and then I usually spend a lot of the night tossing and turning.  Sleep does not come easily to me, but I try to view it as a productive time for hashing out ideas and figuring out what my priorities are for the following day.  That’s my positive spin on insomnia!

6// What’s one piece of advice you would give to other business owners?

Surround yourself with smart people who support, challenge and inspire you. 

FOLLOW HOLLOW WORK CERAMICS ONLINE: INSTAGRAM / FACEBOOK / ETSY

Elise Crawford