“Turning a hobby into a business means paying attention to details. I’m not a detail person. I apprenticed with a professional potter who encouraged me to keep detailed notes about my work: how much raw clay is needed for a certain piece, what are the finished measurements, how are the glazes applied and in what order. All that detail went against my grain. I was reluctant to do it. My potter friend said, ‘What if someone buys something you made, and they want you to do it again?’ I learned to pay attention to detail—not just in pottery, but in my life, too. ”
–Sarah McCullough, pictured here with her husband, Doug.
What enlightened you both to discover pottery and turn your passion into a business upon retirement?
Sarah began making pottery in the garage for fun. We did a show and discovered that people really liked our pottery. The instant popularity of the pottery inspired us to pursue it as a business.
How long has pottery been a passion and was this a long-lived dream to begin your business, Eclectic Pottery, upon retirement?
Upon retirement we had no thought of making pottery as a business. It began as a hobby and grew from there.
Other than fulfilling your passion with pottery making, how else do you both celebrate being retired empty nesters?
We enjoy life together. We travel when we can in our new motor home, eat out a lot, and just enjoy time with the family.
What was your original goal after retirement?
Our original goal upon retirement was to move to Lake Martin (from Dayton, Ohio) and just enjoy our retirement. We did that and then the pottery business boomed!
What’s your 24-hour daily routine together?
Get up when we feel like it. Usually work on pottery or on our new house. In late afternoon we relax and usually read. In the evening we go out, read, or watch TV.
Are there any other passions you both share?
We like to travel, play with our dogs, eat out, and enjoy our family. One of our new passions since moving to Birmingham is visiting all the new beer breweries and checking out new beer.
What’s next? Any other goals or adventures you hope to accomplish together?
Make pottery and take off in our new motor home to see parts of the U.S. that we’ve not seen.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
Love and take care of each other; mix work with play and be good parents and grandparents.
Being the role model parents of four children, I was also able to extend a portion of this interview to your son, Matt, and daughter, Megan. Here are a few insights we pulled from your children’s perspective…
What is a favorite lesson you’ve learned from your parents?
Matt: “They occupy their time and passion together with pottery.”
What could others learn from your parents?
Matt: “They do what they love together and it’s really nice to see them happy.”
Describe your parents.
Matt: “Mom: free spirit; Dad: laid back. Both, always up for anything.”
Megan: “They were very sure to ensure how important it is for their children (us) to succeed in everything we were involved in so that we could follow in their footsteps and enjoy our lives.”
I’m wondering if I could get a sound bite from you, about your parents—your insights or anything you’d like to share.
Megan: The main lessons I learned from my parents from witnessing their retirement/transition to the lake:
1) “Work hard so you can play hard. They invested a lot of time in their training and educations in order to get the jobs they desired. It wasn’t always easy for them, especially when they had young children, but it paid off. They saved money, they had jobs with great benefits, and they were ambitious, all with the goal of providing us with awesome experiences while growing up and they are now able to reap the rewards of their hard work in retirement.”
2) “Stay close to your family. My parents made the choice to move south because three of their children (including me) relocated to Alabama to attend Auburn and my mom had a sister in Atlanta. They wanted to be close as we got married, had children, needed help, etc. Though my brother Matt stayed in Ohio for a while, my parents finally wore him down, packed him up, and moved him down, too. My grandparents lived pretty far away growing up, so I love and appreciate that my parents stayed close proximity to me, and I love seeing my daughter light up whenever she sees them.”