Imagine all of the small businesses you do business with on the regular. The place your kids go to school. The place you get local coffee. The place you pick up a sweet treat from. The place where you work out. The place that you work in.
The blog you’re reading right now…
How many of those are women-owned? We’re betting at least half.
For Women’s History Month, we’re featuring a woman-owned business having a powerful impact on Tacoma’s community and the non-profit they support.
Read on to learn more about SPUN, the eclectic clay art studio getting Tacoma dirty.
SPUN Clay Arts & Studio Gallery by April Sanders and Jennifer English
April and Jennifer are the kind of friends who’ve been friends so long that they’re really family. They bicker, banter, and they finish each other’s…pottery.
Along with sisterhood and a shared love for art, they’re also on a mission to create an easily accessible, encouraging and non-judgy environment where everyone feels supported and welcomed.
SPUN was a passion project born out of the desire to reconnect two friends who’d lost touch and the need to make the pottery art space more inclusive.
More on this from the owners, Jennifer and April.
How did you two meet?
Jennifer: We met at Auburn Senior High.
April: We were taking a fine arts class something like twenty years ago.
Why did you start SPUN?
April: I started doing pottery classes years ago and just fell in love with it. Once I knew I loved it I bought a wheel and told Jen, “Let’s do something with this!”
Jennifer: Life had kind of taken us away from each other for a few years but we wanted to do something that could bring us together.
So, art connected you when you first met and then reconnected you again later in life?
April: Exactly. It’s interesting to think about it that way but, yes, art has that power to bring friendships and community together…it’s very powerful and unfortunately sometimes overlooked.
You started doing pottery together, then what?
Jennifer: We thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice to do art together all the time’? That was the starting point, but it eventually evolved into, ‘what does this look like for the community’.
April: We took formal pottery classes so we can teach others, then we joined the Spaceworks Tacoma Incubator program.
Jennifer: They really helped us formulate a business plan and open a business. If not for that program, we’d probably still be in April’s garage.
What’s different about SPUN from other studios?
April: We keep coming back to wanting to make it a safe and welcoming space for everyone. If you think about pottery studios, they’re typically inaccessible. You have to take a six week or eight week class which can be hundreds of dollars. There’s no opportunities for kids. They require prerequisites to get on the wheel. Most people can’t afford this. We don’t do that here. If you want to get on the wheel and try it out, it’s just $10.
Jennifer: We give people tons of options. If you want to make one thing, we’ll show you. If you love it and want to keep getting on the wheel we have private lessons and group classes or you can do it independently. We’ve been the dive bar of pottery studios for almost 8 years. No one should feel like shit doing pottery so we try to make it as comfortable and welcoming as possible.
What does women’s history month mean to you and what women have inspired you, past or present?
Jennifer: I mean, we’re still living in women’s history. My idol is Annie Oakley. She was a woman sharp-shooter in a time where women sharp-shooters weren’t a thing. She was just a strong lady.
April: My mom is my idol. She taught my sisters and I to be independent. That we can do whatever we want and she would support us in making it happen. That’s what she always instilled in us, we can make things happen. Anything. I didn’t grow up thinking women were not equal to men at all and I’m very grateful to her for that.
Which nonprofit are you donating $100 to and why?
April: We’re donating to Sequoia Therapeutic Recreation. Sequoia Therapeutic Recreation provides recreation activities for folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The founder and president, Kodi, is an amazing woman who we truly enjoy working with.
Jen: We’ve been able to make really great friendships with this amazing community and it’s given us the opportunity to learn basic ASL so we can teach pottery to them. I think that was definitely one of the biggest highlights for me.
April: Definitely. And clay is also just really therapeutic so it’s great for everyone, but especially folks having a hard time communicating. Working with clay, you don’t need to communicate with your mouth. You let your hands do the talking.