Katherine is the designer & maker behind TerracottaKat. Over the past fifteen years, she’s worked in the marketing industry, specializing in design, social media and photography.
And for years she’s dreamt of opening her own pottery studio, which she has finally been able to open! She currently shares all things planty and pottery related on her Instagram, @TerracottaKat. You can also find special guest appearances from her fur babies– of which there are several.
Where you can find Katherine:
Thank you to our drink sponsor Social Still Distillery, The LV’s first distillery producing spirits since prohibition. They source local corn, local wheat, local rye, barley, and other grains produced by small family farmers. Stone milled, mashed, and fermented right inside the distillery in Bethlehem. They make a product of Pennsylvania, grown here, produced here, blended here, and barreled here. This is the next great craft industry and they are the pioneers. You can find them at http://www.socialstill.com/.
Wine Down the Week is created in partnership with:
Soltech Solutions: https://soltechsolutions.com/
Steel City Plant Co: https://steelcityplantco.com
Domaci Home: https://domacihome.com
Lehigh Valley With Love: https://lehighvalleywithlovemedia.com
Hey plant fam, welcome to Wine Down The Week with Angie brought to you by SolTech Solutions. I’m your host Angie, owner of Steel City plant company here in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. Today we are talking with Kat Nizzi. Katherine is the designer and maker behind TerracottaKat. Over the past 15 years she’s worked in the marketing industry specializing in design, social media, and photography. And for years she’s dreamt of opening her own pottery studio, which she’s finally been able to open. She currently shares all things plants and pottery related on her Instagram @Terracottakat, you can also find special guest appearances from her fur babies which we love. And of course there are tons of those pictures too. So we are going to welcome in Kat
Hello there! Thanks Hi!
Hi there! Thank you so much for being with us – your background is absolutely gorgeous.
This is my plant room which used to be the office…but the plants took over.
Story my life. Oh well thank you for being with us today, we’re going to kick it off with an icebreaker. So we’ve been playing this game called Petal and Bud. So Pedal is something that has happened recently that’s exciting for you, and Bud is something that is coming up that you’re excited about.
Okay….Well obviously, um, a Petal has been the opening of my pottery studio, which took a lot of planning to do, like over a year, so I’m still like riding high on the fact that it’s working. I have a kiln in my basement.
Yeah, so, that’s a Petal, and it’s definitely still blossoming! And then, oh gosh, a Bloom? Or a Bud – a Bud! Hmmm, this is a long ways out – and it’s it’s a little sore right now – but I was supposed to be in Canada last week for a convention. And that got cancelled because of pandemic reasons, which is totally fine, but it got rescheduled for next October, so I have that to look forward to
There you go! Way to put a positive spin on it! Things are just getting crazy again and we got to be safe and…
It gives me more time to plan, and get my list of sites to see when I’m up in Vancouver. So pretty still excited, little silver lining, Yes.
Well thank goodness for zoom and why we’re able to do this today, and it makes life a little bit easier for us.
Exactly. What are yours? Your Petal?
Ooh! Petals – something that’s happened recently…. I just got back from Salem, Massachusetts, I’ve never been before. So I know in one of the previous episodes, I said that was my Bud that I was excited for, so now it’s happened.
Very very cool, and to all of all of the things Halloween and witchy so we got to see all the Hocus Pocus sites and I got aura photography for the first time.
I got aura photography for the first time. Yes, it’s orange. So that’s good. Have you ever gotten that done before?
No, but I think it’s been years since I saw a group of people, they had that done too. And it’s intriguing! But no, I haven’t had it done myself.
So yeah, it was a very interesting, different experience!
So what does orange mean then?
It means like a – high energy, like outgoing, stronger personality, and loves adventure and traveling and all those things. So it was it was pretty spot on. I’m a Sagittarius, I’m a fire sign. So it’s like okay, orange makes sense.
What, what is introvert homebody?
I don’t know! I feel like maybe blue? That sounds like it could be right. calming and…
I recently did one of those enneagram things. And she wanted me to do it. So I did it was like this doesn’t sound right. And I did it. I was in a weird mood when I did it, and then I re-took it and it gave me totally different results. So I’m just…. those are kind of a wash for me right now.
Yeah, I’d be interested to see if that aura photography did the same thing. Like if it did it again, somewhere else. Would it be different? Or based on my mood? Yeah, is it really specific or not?
Yeah, for sure. So right!
Like those mood rings that were just always changing colors in the 90s!
….which is so back right now, I’m sure.
I know! Good times. Alright, so that was exciting! ….So my Bud…. something that’s coming up… I mean here in Bethlehem it’s the Christmas city so it’s honestly already getting Christmassy in town, I know it’s not even Halloween yet, but we take it very very seriously! So our plant shop here will be decorating for Christmas and getting all of our Christmas goodies together this week! So that’s exciting.
So fun! I would recommend these little tiny disco ball decorations. I think I found them at the Dollar Tree, so like, a dollar for six of them! But they’re these little tiny disco balls and they’re the cutest things.
I’m going there right from here. I need all the disco ball.
I haven’t seen them recently, but when, you know, Christmas season is actually here.
Yeah! No, that’s a great idea. Thanks for the tip!
I decorated my shelves with those last year, so, they’re so pretty.
I want to get the disco ball planters in the shop…
I’m on the list on Etsy right now!
Yeah? Alright! Well, I’m drinking some Sasquatch, which is Vanilla-Maple Bourbon from Social Still Distillery. It’s my favorite bourbon that we have at Social Still, and Social Still is located on the south side of Bethlehem. So they’re local, right by Soltech, neighbors with them. And they’re great community partners! We’re excited to have them as our booze sponsor for the week. So thank you Social Still. Cheers. Vanilla-Maple Bourbon – Delicious. It’s like the perfect fall drink – It is naturally infused with actual vanilla beans and Maple. Real Maple, straight. So it doesn’t taste like flavored whiskey? It just tastes -it’s just right on the after taste – is that hit of vanilla and maple. So very delicious. What do you drinking?
So I’m drinking a honey wine. I’ll have to look at this bottle here…. my husband picked this up for me last week. It’s from an Iowa winery. Um, gosh, where’s it from? It’s just a honey table wine from a Bay House arena. And that’s in Soli, Iowa. So cheers.
Cheers. It’s a pretty, pretty sweet wine. It’s good, though.
Yeah. I like all wine really.
Is there a bad wine?
I don’t think so. Same with pizza. I haven’t met bad pizza or bad wine.
Alright, so we’re gonna play a little game. Now that we got our drinks ready to go. We’re going to do two truths and a lie…as it pertains to plants though, or your plant life, something like that. So I’ll kick it off. Because I know I’m just throwing this at you and I’ve had a minute to think about it. So, two truths and a lie, if we guessed correctly, the other person has to drink – so you guess my things correctly, I have to drink. Okay. All right. So two truths and a lie. I’m always really bad at this. I always, always say like three truths that I’m like, Oh, wait. Okay, I have, including at the shop, over 300 plants to care for, I have fake plants in my apartment, And I name all of my plants.
I watched your podcast so I know the last one is a lie!
The last one?
The last one – you do not name all of them!
You’re right. Darn it. I have to drink! Right – Your turn.
Okay. Um, let’s see, here. I am, I’m really good at plant names, and, all that you know, like the scientific names and stuff, like that with them. Um, my kids and my animals are really good with all my plants. And, one of the things that makes me happiest in the world is a really good shelfie with plants on it and I feel that every shelf should have a plant on it.
Okay, I think I know because I’m already a big fan of your account and I’ve been following you for a while. Your newest kitten is not good with the plants. He’s been kicking the dirt up.
Okay, he kicks the dirt up! But that’s been solved. I didn’t update people, but that has been solved.
Which one is the lie then?
I don’t know the names of plants. Isn’t that terrible?
Oh, it’s not terrible! Don’t worry about it.
Yeah. You know it’s been for a while I did a lot – you know I would research them and everything, and now I’m just like you know what – I really love this one and well… I don’t know it’s name.
I just try to learn as I go… and there’s so much to learn and it’s just a constant growing experience.
And if it takes the fun out of it for you, then you know, you should do what you love about plants.
If it gets to the point where it’s stressful then just love them for what they are.
So I love that because I do feel like while the plant community is for the most part so open and welcoming and loving and such a great community to be a part of, you can find those corners of the internet, or the community where there is shame and not knowing the exact definition. Like in the Facebook groups – and I see people get like, made fun of sometimes and I’m like: “they’re okay just loving plants they don’t need to know!”
Or where I posted before and I’ve had the wrong name of a plant and: Oops! I’ll fix it, Thanks for letting me know! Don’t be rude about it.
All right. Moral of the story just be kind and love plants.
yeah, let’s be nicer to each other online everybody.
Well, then I have to drink because I guessed wrong. So cheers again!
That was.. that was kind of tricky, because I…
I think I need a refill soon! Okay, so I really just want to get to know you better. Now. Tell us about this pottery studio because I know it’s new-er for you. But it’s also just completely taken off amazingly – So…
Yes it has! Okay, well, I’ll kind of backtrack a little bit. Um, I am an artist, I’ve always been an artist, I majored in graphic design. So throughout college, you know, I take pottery classes, and in high school as well… and this is back in the early 2000s. And so, art, it’s always been a part of me, and then when I got out of college, you know, I had a desk job working graphic design, and it burnt me out.
And then I had kids! And so now I have the pleasure of staying home with them, but I constantly have to be busy. It’s the way I am, I just, I think is part of the reason why I got into plants so heavily, and then like I need more of a creative outlet… one that can bring in a source of income at the same time of bringing pleasure….. because collecting plants …does not really bring in income, right? So anyway, um, I just over the course of the past, almost like two years, I’ve been trying to figure out how I can make it happen to get a studio in the house, because that’d be the most efficient for me. And everything finally came together right in the middle of the pandemic. It’s just really worked out. So I have, I live in an old home. It was built in 1920. And we have this creepy old basement and there’s this coal room down in the basement where like there was like, splatters of coal on the walls and everything, because that’s how they used to heat the house. And I thought “this room will be perfect!” It’s all cement, which is a safety thing, and there’s ways to vent, so I painted that room. Oh, and it was really hard.
It looks amazing. I saw it on your page.
Oh, it was… a lot of pain. And then my mother in law, she’s an electrician. So she wired the whole room for me and she set up, you know, the special outlets for the kiln. I had a friend who was getting out of the ceramics hobby, and so I was able to get all of her stuff! And it just just literally just fell into place. I’ve been able to create, and people have embraced it! And they you know, so far they seem to love what I make, and what I’m making is kind of different every time. It’ll keep changing and evolving as… as it does!
So the stars really aligned for that for your, for your kind of…. stuff! And to have the perfect space. That was awesome! Not too lighten the pandemic, but for a lot of people, I feel like it came at a good time – like people that needed to slow down and kind of figure out their passions and have the time to do it.
Yes, yeah. And my husband’s a teacher, and so he has summers off. And so it really worked out because then, you know, he has the children. Well, I was able to focus all my energy on setting everything up and to really get going. So I was a little rusty at first because it’s been a few years since I’ve thrown. And of course, you know, operating the kiln it, it was something totally new – because when you work at other studios, a lot of times other people run the kiln for you. But no, it was, It was scary at first, but I’m used to it now.
Congratulations. That’s amazing. Your work is beautiful. I love, love what you make.
Thank you. I appreciate that.
So what sparked your interest into plants from the beginning?
Oh, okay, so I’ve always had plants, big plants. I mean, anytime I had an apartment, I’d always, you know, go to the big box store, go grab a couple big plants to decorate with it. And, you know, it was always for – just, they make me happy! And, to be honest, you know, 10/15 years ago, I didn’t have a care in the world to what kind of plant it was, and what it needed. I did know they needed light! Yeah, well, I mostly put them by windows. And then, I think it was, you know, a couple years ago that I started getting more plants. And then, the winter before the pandemic hit the US, I had gotten – (this is what started my Instagram account) – I had gotten a new camera. My family was getting annoyed with me taking their pictures all the time, and so I said, “fine, I’ll take my plants pictures!” And that is that is how TerracottaKat was born – It was: I got a camera and I wanted to take pictures of stuff, and it was wintertime, and….. I’m sure your winters are pretty rough out there….. they’re not great in Iowa either…. and so you’re stuck inside, and so you know, I took pictures of my plants and..bought new plants to take pictures of….
..and a cycle began.
Yeah. But uh, you know, it’s, I’ve always loved them, they’ve always been part of my, you know, decorating. And I actually have a hashtag that I’ve always used that is: #plantismyaccentcolor. Because – I went through this phase where I had zero color in my house, except for the green of the plants. Yeah. And so that’s kind of what I’ve always said.
It’s a beautiful accent color to have…
The best. Well, I’m glad you brought up your Instagram because personally, I’m super interested in this, and I know a lot of other people will be too – I’m so impressed that it seems you started your account terracottakat in 2020, and then it’s totally just skyrocketed… taken off with followers and the community you’ve built… any tips for people trying to get that type of community started?
Well, you know, I think I started at the exact time for it to take off, if that makes sense. Like if I were to start it today, I do not think that the same thing would have happened if that makes sense. As you know, Instagram constantly changes, we know that they mess with your mind possibly…
oh, yeah…the algorithm….
Yeah, and I think it started out with you know, on Facebook, actually, I was in a local plant group and we were all sharing our Instagram handles and so you know, then I was able to be friends with them on Instagram, as well as Facebook, and then started to grow and produce content…. And reshares from bigger share accounts, those were huge! And really striking conversation and making friends with with other plant lovers is really what got me going. Sharing about other people that inspire you, and just being active. I do find that I spent a lot of time on Instagram in the early 2020s and it was really time consuming – and it can be stressful too! So you know, I think right now, I kinda try not to spend as much time on it. It is draining sometimes and the worry of you know, like: right now if I don’t post every day, there’s a decline in numbers! And… that’s okay! I am totally fine with that. But I don’t like that it gives you that anxiety. And I’m happy now to be able to be like, “this isn’t cool, this isn’t healthy. So let’s take a step back and enjoy my plants and just have fun with life.” And so…
Good for you.
BUT, You still need it, though.
SO, and then any advice or tips for people that might want to start their own small business like on Etsy or crafting?
Yeah. So um, find other people that have done it. Talk to them, ask them questions, ask them about their failures or successes. I was very fortunate to have a friend who went through the whole thing. Go online and look for blogs that talk all about it. Because… it’s more than just making something and selling it. You have to think about, “well, how am I going to ship it? Once somebody gets hurt with my product, you have to get insurance.” You’re a business owner, I mean, business insurance is like a serious deal. And with having a kiln our home… that was a big…
Oh, I bet…
…So that took several months to sort just the insurance out. But write your expenses down, keep track of every penny you spend, estimate what your costs are going to be, and if this should be something you should produce, or if it’s just going to be something to do for for fun. So – but researching before you dive into it is the biggest thing. And for sure, do it if you love it.
And I always say – it was your first point – there’s always people that are willing to help that have been in your shoes and are just waiting to help the next person in line. So ask for help.
Yep, it’s hard sometimes. Yeah. And that’s hard for me to do. I’m a very independent person. But it was an old college friend who’d been through it all. I found it easy for her! But yeah,
Same. I had a lot of people help me along the way…. just to help figure out the things that I just couldn’t wrap my brain around. As a marketing major, I understand the front facing stuff, not so much the back-end stuff… So needed some help there. Yeah.
Yeah. I’m not looking forward to…yeah, all those numbers someday. Because, I prefer the fun stuff! You know, pretty stuff…
Right? Me too! So shifting gears, tell us about your furbabies!
My furbabies? Oh, my gosh, I brought one up with me. This is the plant room so they’re not allowed in here…Especially the cats because even though my cats for the most part are Angel babies, they don’t….Yes, Martok The Kitten was playing in the dirt…. I put tinfoil over the plants, (the dirt), and he hasn’t gotten in them since – but so far, they’re not eating any plants. But, I still keep most of my plants out of reach from them and the ones that are around the house, they’re not… they’re either non-toxic, or, like, going to be okay.
But I’ve got two dogs. Otis, come here! So this is one of my babies…. This is Otis.
Oh my god! Hi! You’re so cute.
He just turned four…
He looked right at me when I said he was cute.
Yes… he knows he is.
He’s like: “I’m used to hearing that. I know.” Omg, so adorable.
This is Otis and he’s four. He’s got a brother who’s bigger than him, but younger, and he is a big fluffy orange dog. And then we have three cats. There’s Lucy which, she’s like a long haired Calico, she’s so gorgeous. She has this little black marking that looks like a pipe, and then we have Nico which is my daughter’s kitty, and Martok which is my baby. So yeah, yeah, full house. Yes, very busy house and then I do have two human kids. Which, I don’t talk about a lot, but they are seven and two… the youngest one just turned two! And I recently shared about our nap issues… so yeah, no naps.
You have a lot of parenting going on….
Human parent, plant parent, pet parent, you’re doing it all.
Yes, I am. I just I have to keep myself busy, I guess..!
Yeah. How do you do it any advice for that? Or are plants kind of your time to unwind?
They are. You know, especially on the weekends is when I can take the time and just come and spend an hour or two in this room, and just tend to them, prune them, and breathe a bit and relax. And if I don’t get that time, it’s okay….You know, some plants have gotten a little neglected especially with the studio opening up. But they’re… they’re hanging on! I would rather it be an enjoyable thing, than something that gets stressful, so I try not to stress over you know… somebody drying out too much.
I hear you…
But yeah, I do try to take time just to sit… even if it’s in the morning, you know, down in the living room just having coffee and breathing and looking at our plants… I have this huge alocasia in the corner and I…. just right under my Soltech Solutions lamp!… And I just stare at it all the time and it brings so much peace. So…
Especially with the lamp on it! I have my favorite corner to look at in my living room… are my three cacti… large ones!… that are under my new Soltech Lights. And just like, with all the other lights off and just that one on, it’s so calming and peaceful to just sit back and watch.
Well, it’s time to wind down. So anything you’d like to add that you’d like our listeners to know about? Anything to keep an eye on? How can they shop with you? What are… give us all the plugs.
Okay, um, so you can find me on Instagram Terracottakat, and that’s cat with a K. And, I try to have restocks in my pottery studio/pottery shop every two weeks or so. I always announced that information on Instagram, as well as my Facebook, which is Terracottakat as well. And then you can find me on Etsy, which is….you can search for the shops… Terracottakat! So I think I also have the link for you too. So perfect.
Yeah, we can post that up. You can go check her out.
Every couple of weeks, I’ll have a restock, and it’ll always be something new! Maybe some favorites from before…. But yeah!
So amazing. Yeah, can’t wait to check out the next one for sure. They’re always so beautiful and unique and just unlike anything I’ve seen before… so really excited to see the next batch!
Moving into the trivia riddle portion of our podcast. So last week’s riddle…. let’s see if you can get it because I do have the answer here finally. So: “I’m yellow, but I’m not a banana. I can be over 10 feet tall, but I’m not a giraffe. I have seeds, but I’m not a lemon. I can provide oil, but I’m not canola. I’m a plant but I’m not a rose.” What do you think it is?
Is it a sunflower?
It is! Yes! So congratulations to whoever guessed sunflower right from last week… we’re going to pull from everyone who answered correctly! You’ll see your name pop up here. So congratulations, you have won a free Soltech Solutions t-shirt and we will be in touch for you to claim that prize. So this week’s trivia question: “How many seeds does a strawberry have?” ….”How many seeds does a strawberry have?” I don’t have the answer yet. I’ll have it for you next week. Tune in to listen to the correct answer…. until then, drop what you think your best guesses are in the comments… or in your reviews. Alright, well with that. Thank you so so much, Katherine for joining us today! So thrilled to have you. Thank you to Soltech Solutions, to Steel City plant Company, Tomasi Home, and Lehigh Valley With Love. See you next week!