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“Success is about feeling good with what you do”

A talk with the artist Emma Low who creates Tit Pots – but only when she feels like it.

15.11.19 > DIY

You may know Emma Low as the Instagram Tit Pot artist @potyertitsawayluv, who became famous for her commissioned and custom-made pottery. If you purchase a pot you can send in a picture of your breasts and Emma creates a pottery image of them.
But it’s not as easy to get your tits as a pot-plant or pencil holder, because Emma leads her business in a rather unusual way, for our modern capitalist society. She says no.
Instead of accepting orders at all times, she opens up slots where only a limited amount of people can order a pot, one per person. First come, first serve.
“I don’t have a waiting list, as the constant workload would not be good for my mental health” she states online.

©Amin Musa for Papier

In a world where people are constantly encouraged to improve themselves, make more money and go bigger, faster, higher, you rarely hear young entrepreneurs talk about the impacts success and stress can have on their mental health. Especially if they own a fast-growing business with a high demand for their products. Instead of giving in to the demand and growing her business on a larger scale, Emma decided to keep her business a one-woman-show and only create pots when she feels like it.

We talked to her about her special form of leadership, being a conscious entrepreneurial role-model and the backlash and support she gets for staying true to herself.

Emma, how does “Pot Yer Tits Away” operate business?
My art is my main job. Everything is done by me: the hand-made pots, the painting, the e-mails, the social media, the packaging, going to the post office. The reason for shop updates to happen so irregular is, because they sell out immediately. I think people assume I’m a bit lazy, but I like to only move forward when a whole bunch is done. It takes a while and it’s as much as I’m comfortable doing at the moment.

When did you notice that your business that started on Instagram was really taking off, and how did you react to it?
Almost immediately, to be honest. When I made some pots, they immediately sold out. I started the shop when I was still working full-time as an assistant shop manager.
I wasn’t expecting to become so popular and I wasn’t very prepared for it. When it started I was working from home, spending a lot of time by myself. Yet, I was constantly in demand. I didn’t really have time for myself, even though I was always alone. It was a very weird juxtaposition of my online persona and my real life self. I had to figure out who I am and what I want from this.
There was a point where I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. It was before Christmas and so many people purchased my pots that I ended up having to cut short. I felt so bad.
That’s when I decided to become very strict with my business, my orders and the FAQs: I decided not to do a waiting list, because it’s hell. I open my slots and then do as many pots as I like. And I don’t answer questions anymore, that are already answered in the FAQs. Someone replied to me about the one pot per person limit and said: “you can’t dictate how much people buy. They can buy as much as they want. That’s not how you do business.” Well, that’s how I do business.

©Amin Musa for Papier

How did you decide to keep your business on a lower scale and not hire anyone?
I think about hiring someone all the time, but if I learned one thing from working in retail, it’s that I’m not good at managing people. And it’s not something I want to be good at, so I’m taking my business at my own pace, in a way that I can support myself. I also worry sometimes, that if my work becomes too accessible no one would care about it anymore. I don’t believe so, but I worry about everything.
I live in the very privileged situation of being self-sustainable. I can make my own decisions. And I’m completely against this capitalist idea, that everybody should be able to get what they want, all the time. Also, my art is very personal and there’s a special connection that I have with the person sending their image. I think people like that it’s just me who does the work.
In an ideal world, I would create pots and not make money for it, but obviously I have to. For me, it was never about making loads of money.
There are people, especially men, that question my decision to not grow the business. I know that they just want me to succeed and for them success is money, whereas for me success is feeling good about what I do.

So would you say that you try to change the business-system in which you operate and maybe implement a new form of leadership?
The whole idea behind being the way I am and being quite strict with it, is that I hope business changes. So that people don’t have to bow to the pressure of being a certain way. I wouldn’t blow in my own trumpet that hard, but I think some people have taken notice and I have friends who feel similarly. There’s a definite movement, but I haven’t coined it. This is about my personality and how much I hate the system that we live in. If you run a business, you should be in complete control of it and be true to who you are. I’m not saying my way is the right way, but for me it is. And that’s what’s important.
A very good role-model for me is Eliza Hopewell, she’s also an artist and very ruthless and open.
What I find very helpful is to have support in my shared studio. We hold each other accountable and give feedback. It can be very scary to put something in the world, so it’s nice to talk it through.
People are very respectful of my decisions now, which is a great help.

Has your mental health improved since you started to be strict about your business?
Definitely. I was completely overworking myself. I would go on a night out and people would recognize me and ask for a pot. And I would feel very awkward and agree to make them one, even though I really didn’t want to. But I said yes, because I felt uncomfortable which is something a lot of people experience. You have to learn to deal with it. Now that I’ve decided to be stricter, I feel more comfortable to say no. I became so good at saying no, that I want to say no all the time now. Sometimes it is a good thing to put yourself out there, feel the fear a little bit, but on your own terms.

Do you have any plans for the future?
I have no plan for the future and that exactly is my plan for the future. I’m done with having plans and feeling like I should have reached a certain stage in life. Try to ask yourself if you enjoy what you’re doing. If your answer is yes, that’s what you should continue doing. And that’s my plan.

Thank you for sharing your story.

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