Made in Canada: Cathy Terepocki Ceramics
Interview by Stephanie Klaver
Photographed by Sharalee Prang
Q: What inspired you to become a professional ceramic artist and eventually sell your unique functional dishes and jewelry?
I knew that I wanted to work in some sort of a creative field so, I decided to get a fine arts degree at the Alberta College of Art and Design and I received a major in ceramics. Having invested the time, energy and resources into my schooling, I was determined to make a career out of it after graduating.
Q: When and where did you sell your first piece?
I sold quite a few of my functional pieces while I was still in school. I also started venturing into jewelry during the summer between second and third year. I started by selling them to co-workers at a restaurant in Calgary. By the end of the summer I had three or four wholesale accounts. I did this, in part, to learn some of the practical business side of being an artist as they don’t focus too much on this in the BFA program.
Q: If you could go back to when you began your business, with all of the wisdom you have now, what advice would you give yourself? I’d probably tell myself to work a little less when my kids were really young, to enjoy this time.
Q: Turning an enjoyable hobby or past-time into a business can be a little tricky, how do you make sure it remains something you still enjoy while also bringing in an income?
I make sure to carve out time for experimentation and product development without thinking too much about who will buy it or how much I could sell it for. It’s really important to keep growing as an artist and still find the joy in creating pieces so, just taking time to make for the sake of making is important. The rest seems to work itself out.
Q: Where can people find and purchase your collections now?
My collections are sold across Canada and in the United States. My local locations are; Spruce Collective and Confetti Floral in Abbotsford, Refinery House in Chilliwack. In Vancouver there are several location including; Walrus on Cambie St., Room 6 in Deep Cove and Neighbourhood Quality Goods on Main St. I also have an online shop.
Q: What can we expect to see from you in the next year?
When I moved here (to Yarrow) three years ago, I had an established wholesale business with sales throughout Canada. My studio was at home and because I work a lot I didn’t have much of a local presence. My goal for the year is to be more involved in the local arts and business community in the Fraser Valley and maybe do a semi-annual studio sale and open house. I’m also interested in product design so I’ve been doing a bit of work in that area and would like to explore some more options there.
Q: If you could give a shout out to a couple of your favorite local small shops, who would they be?
All the great shops I mentioned that sell my work of course. Also, Hazel Springs, Yarrow needed good coffee quite desperately! Curly Kale Eatery because they are committed through and through to quality ingredients from local sources and come on, they make their ketchup and hot sauce from scratch! The Farm Store…Duck sausage, need I say more? Coconut Thai is Sardis’ best, local, authentic Thai food. Their Tom Yum Soup is amazing! Also Field House as it’s inspiring to see a business that really nailed it.
Q: We’ve been inspired by the minimalism and handmade trends. Coming from a background where this was the way of life, what are your thoughts? I hope it’s more than a trend! I hope it’s more about sustainability and ethics, than aesthetics.
Q: We love to get to know people aside from their business as well, what are three things people may not know about you?
I operated a mobile shop out of an airstream trailer for 10 years, my kids were born in three different provinces; BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. My Pine Creek series was named after a town in Northern Australia where I worked at a gold mine.
Q: What is your favorite thing about living in the Fraser Valley? I would have to say the Vedder River and the local berries. Also, we’re living close to family for the first time ever!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your family! I have three kids, Iris is 12, Hazel is 10 and Ole is 7. They sing a lot and they like to get dirty. A couple of years ago when the school were on strike, the kids were helping us dig up potatoes in the garden. Afterwards they just kept digging until they each had dug a hole as deep as they are tall. Then they added seats, ledges and conjoining tunnels. They lived like mole children for a week! My husband, Chris Terepocki, is a lawyer with Grace, Snowdon and Terepocki in Abbotsford. I’m originally from Waterloo County, Ontario, and my husband grew up here (Langley and Abbotsford).
Q: How do you like to spend time together? We love to travel! Last year we went to Indonesia for a month and this year we’re looking forward to going to Costa Rica. We’ve also done numerous road trips and travel by train.