We had the good fortune of connecting with Molly Sanyour and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Molly, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. As a child, one of my favorite games was to play ‘store’ with my sisters. We would set up a pretend shop and sell our wares. We even had a real cash register we’d use – it was from my grandparents’ restaurant many years ago (entrepreneurial spirit runs in the family…!).
In college, I intended to study pre-law. But I found the classes boring (and really hard!). I shifted to business but also found that really hard! I played club lacrosse at JMU (James Madison University) and one of my teammates was a photography major. That was the first time I ever considered majoring in art. The concept of do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life always resonated with me. I ended up earning a BFA in Ceramics and Visual Arts with a K-12 teaching license.
I’ve been teaching for 14 years and feel it’s a true calling. However, my salary from teaching alone is only enough to cover basic living expenses. To support my passions of traveling and enjoying basic entertainment (I love dining out!), I needed a second income. For many years, I worked nights as a waitress after teaching all day. Eventually, family and friends encouraged me to sell my pottery. From there, Molly Sanyour Ceramics was born!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
While I never envisioned myself becoming a teacher, it suits me. I have a curious nature and love learning. I encourage my students to push themselves as artists and consume any media/information that could spark creativity.
I’ve also always incorporated my personal passions into my work. I’m an avid consumer of pop media. Some of my muses are Lizzo, Beyonce and Jay Z – and, through a friend in the music industry, I’ve been fortunate enough to have gifted each of them some of my work. Lizzo can even be seen in various outlets using one of MY butt mugs. Talk about a dream come true!
That love of teaching and learning has also fueled my business. Teaching is a big part of Molly Sanyour Ceramics. Beyond making wares, I have a show, Throwing With Molly, and produce videos and stream live to help support my followers in learning more about creating with clay. Andy Cohen has been my muse here. I love him as a host on Watch What Happens Live and have used him as a model in hosting my own show. Tapping into my inner Andy Cohen has allowed me to utilize my strengths as a teacher to feed my insatiable drive to create and evolve via video.
Ultimately, authenticity has fueled my work. No matter how silly or frivolous, I have always been resolute in honoring my own interests and passions and muses in my art – and, it’s ultimately gotten me to where I am today. I’m constantly learning myself – attending workshops, forging relationships with other potters and entrepreneurs, and always encouraging my students to ask questions and challenge conventional methods.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have traveled the world but truly love my hometown – Richmond, VA! If a friend came to town, I’d absolutely take them to Libby Hill Park. I love running the steps and the views of the city are amazing. Institute of Contemporary Art would be on my list; the building itself is gorgeous and the art is always provocative and current. Quirk Hotel and Gallery! I love – the rooftop views and ambience are awesome, and I love their contemporary food and drink menu. Finally, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts – I love their sculpture garden, they have a fantastic happy hour and always draw a diverse crowd.
This is just the tip of the iceberg – Richmond has so many great spots!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mom encouraged me to get my teaching license beyond just majoring in art. Without that guidance, I may not have been able to turn my love of art into a career – and ultimately, a business. She continues to be my biggest cheerleader and critic and I’m so grateful for her.
I get my work ethic from my dad. His drive is unmatched, and he certainly passed that on to me. More than that though – he’s always THERE. He was with me at my first craft show and comes to support me at every event and opening I have. His support means so much to me.
I also have two sisters and they’re always willing to pitch in. They help with marketing, pushing my creativity, shipping, co-hosting my shows, and even buying my artwork (sometimes without a discount – ha!). They’re so supportive and always there to celebrate my wins and encourage me through my losses.
My friends have been an amazing source of support too. One in particular, Jackie Naparlo, helped design my logo and has gifted me many of the branded products I use every day. Her support and encouragement have been instrumental in polishing up those details that have turned my dream into an actual business.
I have a solid, substantial support system. I’m very lucky!
Other: Tiktok: @mollysanyourceramics
The photo of Lizzo is a screen shot from her interview with Vogue! The others are my own.