Business, Shopping

Mentor Mondays – Hilary Russell – Cotton Table Ceramics

Mentor Monday Tales of a Peanut

Today I’m starting a new series entitled Mentor Mondays. I will be sharing interviews with some of my mentors and those I look up to on the blog so that we can all learn from them. This series will mostly focus on the business sector but may occasionally branch into the personal. Enjoy this inaugural post in this series!

Cotton Table Ceramics - Mentor Monday on Tales of a Peanut

Let me introduce you to my friend Hilary. She is an amazing Mama and businesswoman who has taken her gift of art to a whole new level. She started a local gift shop in 2009 called H. Raines and began custom painting ceramic pieces for people who wanted tableware that showcased their hometowns, their families, and their states. Before long she was making a name for herself but was also in the throes of new motherhood and found the store and her art too much to handle (as anyone would!). So she sold her shop to focus on being a Mama and continued development of her custom ceramics line from home. These days you can find her chasing after her two boys, Fenn and Cam, hanging out with her husband, Victor, or working away on orders. Today I wanted to pick her brain on balancing work and family and what her secrets to success were.

Cotton Table Ceramics - Mentor Monday on Tales of a Peanut

I know selling your store must have been bittersweet, can you tell me a little about how you made the decision to move on from it and knew that it was the right move for you and your family?

Selling the store was a difficult decision.  I loved it.  It gave me a creative and personal outlet while allowing me to juggle motherhood.  I had an 11 month old at the time and was 6 months pregnant with our second baby!  Yikes!  My ceramics business was growing rapidly and I had to give on something.  The ceramics I could grow from home and give motherhood my full-time attention….babies 15 months apart is no joke!  So I sold the store and as much as letting go of the gift shop side of things saddened me, it was leaving all the absolutely incredible ladies behind who shared in that venture with me that was the hardest.

So tell me, when did you first start painting ceramics?

I started painting ceramics out of the shop because I noticed a need from my customers, looking for local art work that represented our beautiful landmarks.

How did you settle on painting ceramics and what’s special about the pieces that you paint on?

I chose to paint on predominately Italian made bisque, mainly because the bisque ware is incredibly sturdy and durable, but also because each piece is slightly different.   They all have character that sets them apart from one another.  I love that about handmade!

With two small boys and a growing business you have to be incredibly busy. How do you balance your family life and your business?

Balancing work life with family life can be really difficult with a 1 and 2-year-old.  They both go to mothers morning out so I do have some time a couple of days a week to tackle my work.  I’ve also had to get pretty good at telling retailers who order from me that I’m a one woman show and it may be a few weeks before the product gets to them.  That was really hard!  It’s not pleasant to disappoint people and I’m a people pleaser for sure!

What two things must you have in order to have a productive day?

Most definitely I need Jesus and a spirit of oneness with my husband first thing in the morning.  We are called to be one flesh, so when we’re not on the same page or one of us wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, it makes it difficult to be focused and productive.  We both try to encourage one another so we can make the very most of the hours ahead, whether it’s work or tackling two sick kids!

What’s your dream for Cotton Table Ceramics in, say, two years?

I would love to have an Italian manufacturer producing my ceramics line one day!  This would be something I would tackle once the boys are in school so my time is a little less restricted.  But that has always been my dream and goal.

That’s an amazing goal and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see it happen as your work is amazing! You can connect with Hilary on a variety of platforms including her websiteFacebook, Pinterest, and Instagram

Cotton Table Ceramics - Mentor Monday on Tales of a Peanut

If you’d like to be featured in a future Mentor Monday post or would like to see one of your mentor’s featured, send me an email with the subject line “Mentor Mondays” and I’ll get in touch about a future interview. And if you enjoyed this first edition of Mentor Mondays let me know in the comments and tell me what you enjoyed and if there’s anyone that you would like to see featured in the future!

You Might Also Like

Previous Story
Next Story

2 Comment

  1. Reply
    Hilary Russell
    April 27, 2015 at 9:46 am

    You are AWESOME Tales of A Peanut! Thank you for featuring me! I had so much fun reminiscing on the past and present of my little business and it makes me truly excited about what the future holds! Thank for allowing me to share my journey here!

  2. Reply
    April 27, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Great article! I adore my friend!!

Leave a Reply