This interview is part of a series chatting with local business owners, artists, organizers and people in our community who are learning to adapt during COVID-19.
Odile Dowber – Oddy Designs Studio
Describe your business.
My passion is for art, clay, and upcycling things I find. I believe art should be accessible to everyone and I want to use my art to inspire others to create. One of my main focuses is on the environment, which has led me to create ceramic straws. My motto is, “One less straw in the ocean.”
What does working from home/your workplace look like for you right now?
I have always worked from home so my workplace hasn’t changed, just the way I approach creating. With my kids being home now 24/7, our house has become one big creative space with clay, paints and books taking over the house. Might as well embrace the new norm and create an environment where we are all being creative together.
How have you adapted your operations during the pandemic?
Due to the pandemic all my craft shows have either gone online, or been postponed until later in the year. At first I was really disappointed, wondering how I was going to sell my product. Then I started thinking that we are all in this together and [we need] to make the best of every situation that comes our way.
I started thinking about our community and how we are all locked indoors and so I came up with the idea of creating clay kits to take home. I supply the clay, a PDF with ideas, tips, video links and choice of colours. I sanitize the bags and do e-transfer [payments] so there is no person-to-person contact. Once they have made their pieces, they bring them back to me and I fire them and glaze them with their instructions. It has been so fun to see people create in the comfort of their homes.
How have you been supported by the community?
The community has been so supportive. I have had stories of people struggling with depression or anxiety, and [they’ve shared] how creating something out of clay has helped them. Art is therapy! Family times of creating pieces [together], or university students stuck at home and creating. On my Instagram page I post pictures of people’s artwork so we can all be inspired together. We may not see each other but community art is keeping us connected in a way that I had never thought of in the past. Who would have known our community is so creative!
What is something good that has come from this difficult situation?
This time has allowed me to focus on creating again, to come up with new pieces and to focus on how art is therapy even for me. It has shown me how it’s not just about what I can get out of life but what I can give to my community and how to connect even though we are apart.
What advice do you have for other business owners at this time?
Don’t be afraid to try something new, it may actually work. We really have to think outside of the box and not think in normal terms.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Art is therapy, you don’t have to be good at it you just have to give it a go. Colour outside of the lines!
Stay tuned as we share more local folks who are Makin’ It Work.