A Dream Come True

by Jul 5, 2023Art & Culture, South Brunswick

At Ocean Fired Studio Pottery, Holly Scott makes and displays her whimsical and functional pottery on busy Mineola Avenue in Little River.

Holly Scott’s lifelong desire to run her own business was a long time coming, but it has finally come to fruition in Ocean Fired Studio Pottery LLC in Little River.

“Raising our family, becoming empty nesters and then wondering what the next chapter of my life would be — that’s when I decided to fulfill a lifetime dream of running my own business,” Scott says. “People say it’s a dream come true, and there is no better way to say it.” A ceramic artist, Scott has spent the last 13 years of her life making pottery. Before opening her studio, she had set up her equipment in her garage and was making pottery there. She sold her work at various festivals and markets in the area and around the Carolinas.

“Then things all came together — the building on Mineola Avenue became available, and I said to my husband, ‘Now is the time for me to do this.’” Scott was born in Connecticut, and her family moved all over the country and lived in Japan because her father was a captain in the U.S. Navy. “Being part of a military family meant we moved often, and it gave my siblings and me a chance to live in different cities and learn about different cultures,” Scott says.

Ocean Fired Studio Pottery Holly Scott

Graduating from high school in northern Virginia, Scott attended the University of Maryland, receiving a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and applied design in 1985. She met her future husband, Irvin Scott, there, and two years later they were married.

Moving to south central Pennsylvania to start their family, Scott pursued creative projects and focused primarily on being a homemaker. While raising their two sons, Joshua and Matthew, Holly Scott worked at Stauffers of Kissel Hill, a home and garden store. “I created arrangements and seasonal displays, which was great experience,” she says. A doodler even in elementary school, Scott knew that her flair for artwork would be useful. She shared her joy for art with her sons growing up especially on snowy days in Pennsylvania when school was closed but they could still do fun, creative projects.

When vacationing each summer, the Scott family would drive from Pennsylvania to the Outer Banks — Buxton was a favorite destination — and when their kids were grown and on their own, the Scotts decided to move to North Carolina.

“We relocated in 2014, and settling in Brunswick County has been ideal in so many ways,” Scott says. “Not only do we like the friendly people and the nice climate but finding a community of fellow artists and potters has been inspiring. Creative people often speak the same language, so it has been great to know other artists.”

Scott opened Ocean Fired Studio Pottery in November 2020.

While COVID-19 was an initial obstacle, the Scotts talked it over and decided they could still proceed with the plans and open the store. “With face masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing it was doable,” Scott says.

Ocean Fired Studio Little River

Opening during the pandemic was not ideal, but they set up tables and shelves and displayed the pottery. “Irv is a woodworker on the side so he was enormously helpful in creating the space I wanted for Ocean Fired Studio Pottery,” Scott says. “The building already had wood floors and a wooden ceiling that created a certain ambiance so it took a little more finessing to make the shop perfect.”

Although she is a sole owner, Scott says it was a team effort that helped get her business off the ground. Before opening her shop, she took a few online classes at Brunswick Community College in how to start a small business.

“Small Business Center Director April Scott (no relation) steered me in the right direction and was enormously helpful,” Scott says. “I wanted to learn what things would be instrumental in starting Ocean Fired Studio Pottery before opening the doors to my new shop — not afterwards. I got suggestions for an excellent website designer and other tips on how to promote my business using Facebook and Instagram.”

In her studio, Scott spends many early morning hours designing and making pottery. Once the doors open at 10 am, her shop is a bustling place.

Little River SC Ocean Fired Studio Pottery

“We’re located on Mineola Avenue right off Highway 17 in Little River, and as people drive north, they can see the sign to the shop,” Scott says.

She explains that Little River is a destination spot in many ways, and it’s easy to find. There are several restaurants farther east on Mineola Avenue and so is the Big ‘M’ Casino ship. When it’s vacation time in Horry and Brunswick counties, Little River is hopping with visitors.

Scott also has been a vendor with Sunset Artisan Market in Sunset Beach on Thursdays from their start. At that festival and those in other communities on weekends, she meets customers plus fellow artists who have set up shop for the day.

Many of the people she has met at the markets become her customers at the studio.

“I’d say the best way to explain the numbers is roughly 50 percent of the customers at Ocean Fired Studio Pottery are local residents and the other 50 percent are visitors to the area,” she says. “Maybe 25 percent of those people I meet at the markets make a point of driving to my shop to come in and see additional pottery pieces or to place special orders.”

With 1,300 square feet of space, Scott dedicates one-half of that to being a showroom for customers to see the plates, mugs, serving dishes, trays, vases and whimsical pottery pieces she has created. Her Grin Fish, whimsical fish with toothy smiles, are especially popular.

The other 650 square feet of space holds her workrooms. One area holds the two wheels she uses almost daily to throw the clay and hand fashion specific pieces of pottery. Another room holds the two kilns she uses to fire the pottery to her specifications.

Ocean Fired Studio Pottery Little River

“After the time is up, I open the lid to the kiln and I have to say, pulling out the finished piece is like opening presents on Christmas morning,” Scott says. “Each finished piece is a surprise and a delight!”
One of her favorite aspects of pottery making is doing functional whimsical pottery that is all hand painted and unique. A sculpture titled, “Frank and Eddie Don’t Share Fries” has two seagulls fighting over a box of French fries. Another favorite is “Fish Fishing.”

Guest artists feature their products at Ocean Fired Studio Pottery, including photography, baskets, wood utensils, fabric art, shell art and more. There’s even a rack of tie-dyed t-shirts that her son, Matthew, makes, and on the walls are oil paintings her son, Joshua, creates.

At Ocean Fired Studio Pottery, Scott says, “If you are fortunate enough to love what you do, the hard work is only a means to meet wonderful people and realize your dreams.”

Want to go?
Ocean Fired Studio Pottery LLC
4309 Mineola Avenue, Little River
(717) 887-6048
oceanfiredstudiopottery.com
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday
from 10 am to 4 pm
Hours change with the season so text or call ahead

Photography by Tara Roberts