Meet Jill Burns from Early Bird Designs
New series alert! I am so lucky to get to know the amazing makers and small business owners that I photograph. Just showing you their pictures didn't feel like enough, so I've decided to start this interview series! I love not only seeing to process behind these creatives' work, but hearing about how they operate their businesses and the quirky facts that make them such awesome people.
I am so happy to introduce you all to Jill Burns! She is the fabulous maker behind Early Bird Designs, an artisan pottery company based in Worcester where every piece is crafted and illustrated by hand. She let me into her home and her studio and I had a wonderful time photographing her art and hearing about her life and business. She is kind, creative, and funny and I can't wait for you to meet her!
1. Tell us your name, title, and favorite food.
I am Jill Burns, the owner and designer of Early Bird Designs, a line of illustrated porcelain
tableware. Favorite food: Hmmmm. Now that summer is on the horizon it is really hard
to beat a perfect watermelon, but then again I wouldn’t say “no” to a Shake Shack burger.
2. How long have you been doing this and how did you get started?
Not sure how to answer since the starting point to difficult to pinpoint. I studied painting and drawing in college, is that the start? My first creative business was The Fire Works, a community ceramic studio, another possible start -or when I started Early Bird Designs in earnest? In any case, I’ve been doing this a real long time.
3. What does your day-to- day look like?
A better way to answer might be with a week-to- week look. About 3-4 days are in the
studio making and filling orders, another day or two is devoted to the business side;
accounting, marketing, inventory, etc. With a creative business cash flow can be uneven,
so two days a week I have a part time job to help even that out. And then there are in-
person events sprinkled in too.
4. What is one thing people would be surprised is part of your job?
I think a lot of folks imagine an idealized life of just creating all the time, but the less
glamorous business stuff can’t be ignored.
5. Hot Button Issue: Pineapple on pizza. Yes or No and why?
Pineapple, sweet and delicious but has no business on a pizza. Come on Pineapple, stay
off the pizza and find friends who will really appreciate you.
6. What is your proudest achievement in your business?
I felt validated when Etsy invited me to their headquarters in Brooklyn last year to pitch
my line to some large retailers like Paper Source, Macy’s and Whole Foods.
7. What is your proudest achievement outside of your business?
Corny, but raising my family.
8. Favorite song right now?
Shenandoah, arranged and performed by jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. Not sure if a “song”
has to have lyrics, but I’m sticking to my choice.
9. Are you working on anything you can tell us about?
One of the hardest things is carving out time to work out all the designs ideas I have
swirling in my head, but I am working on a series of ceramic cutting boards now.
I also plan to learn Adobe Creative Cloud in the fall, with the hope of expanding my
illustrations beyond ceramics.
10. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to get started in your
Don’t under value your work! Really look at your costs – especially your time –
and build in a profit margin.
Thank you so much to Jill for sharing her story!
See more of the images from Jill's shoot on the maker package page.