Meet Laura Vogel, a Producer Forging Her Own Unique Career Path
May 19, 2020 art,brooklyn,brooklyn businesses,women-owned business
We’ve got a thing for multi-tasking, multi-hyphenate women around here. In fact, most of Realty Collective’s agents double as creatives in their non-real-estate lives. You’ve probably met RC agent Tina Fallon, producer of the long-running 24 Hour Plays, but we’d like to introduce you to another woman getting things done in Brooklyn by putting her producer chops to use in a variety of roles—Laura Vogel.
RC: First tell us about your business and anything special we should know about it or you.
LV: I am the Operations Director of BKLYN CLAY, a ceramics studio in Brooklyn, NY offering membership, classes, one-time experiences, and more. We provide space for all different kinds of people, with all different levels of experience as artists and makers, to come together to create work in a community studio. The space is clean, with an elevated design aesthetic to provide people with a comfortable, safe, and inspiring environment in which to make work.
RC: Do you have any events coming up?
LV: We are offering online studio visits, artist talks, tutorials, and more for free on our YouTube channel.
“Being the Operations Director of BKLYN CLAY is basically just producing—in the form of a ceramics studio and business. It’s all about bringing people together in the most effective way possible to create something awesome!”
RC: Tell us a little about your background and why you feel a connection to your brand.
LV: I studied ceramics in high school and college, and then got back into it after a decade-long break in 2016. I then met Jennifer Waverek, Owner and Director of BKLYN CLAY, when it was just opening at its previous location. My other full time job is that I’m a digital media producer (my other company is Winged Pup Productions) and I am truly a producer at heart. When Jen said that she wanted to blow out the brand and expand the business, I was happy to come on board to help bring her vision of the brand to life through creative logistics.
RC: We’d like to know about your experience within your community. Do you have a studio in a specific neighborhood and, if so, why did you choose the neighborhood that you did to open your business? How have you become involved within your community?
LV: We are located in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and are housed in one of the buildings that is part of the Barclays Center development. It was important to us to be centrally located, and we were glad to be able to bring a community space to an area that had been so deeply changed by the development. We wanted to provide a service that would bring community members – new and old – together in the same place around a creative activity.
RC: What advice would you give to young women who want to open a small business?
LV: Go for it! But ask a LOT of questions and bring on a team that you trust—then make sure to LISTEN TO THEM! Don’t accept “no” or “you can’t do that” just off the bat – but make sure to listen to why people are giving you negative advice so that you can work around it, rather than being stopped in your tracks. When people say you can’t do something, it’s usually for a reason. Find out what that reason is and whether you accept it – if the reason is sexism, just keep going. But if the reason is logical, maybe you can come up with a creative workaround. It’s all about listening, but also having confidence in yourself, your vision, and your expertise. As with everything else in life, it’s about finding a balance.
RC: How are your businesses dealing with COVID-19? It looks like BKLYN CLAY is doing remote classes with materials deliveries? What’s that process been like?
LV: We started by doing online artist talks, studio visits, and tutorials. We have a small wine and beer selection at the studio, and started by providing wine and beer delivery – along with clay – at the beginning. Now we’ve been able to expand our shop to include many ceramic tools, beer, wine, and Cheetos (gotta sell some food!) that are available for local delivery. We just completed our first paid workshop, “Sarah Does Bob Ross,” where our Lead Technician, Sarah Allwine, dressed up as Bob Ross and did an underglaze painting tutorial. We delivered the kits with all necessary materials, as well as the student’s selection of beer or wine, and hot or crunchy Cheetos! We are hoping to expand our online classes in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
RC: What prompted you to change up your career from attorney and move into something new? How did you overcome any anxiety or fear around that change?
LV: I really hated being a lawyer because I like to work WITH people, not against them. Being a producer has enabled me to work with all kinds of people, find what they are good at, and organize them in a way that everyone benefits from each others’ skills and effort. Being the Operations Director of BKLYN CLAY is basically just producing—in the form of a ceramics studio and business. It’s all about bringing people together in the most effective way possible to create something awesome!
RC: I’m curious about what your day-to-day looks like! How do you approach having essentially two different careers, making time and space for both?
LV: I work a LOT. I have to be very attuned to scheduling. Luckily, I have great offices at BKLYN CLAY and at home, so I can do both jobs from either place. Honestly, iCal is my biggest asset! 😉 I answer a ton of emails, texts, and DMs, am on the phone a lot, and communicate and work quickly. I’ve put my ADD to use and multi-task well – after years of practice! I also have a great team to rely on in both places – it’s all about finding people who have different but overlapping skills to work with, so that you can delegate tasks appropriately and learn from each other. I am very, very lucky to be part of an amazing team at BKLYN CLAY, and to be able to rely on a strong group of freelancers through Winged Pup.