Jerry and Kathy Chappelle are the co-owners of two art-centered businesses in Oconee County; Happy Valley Pottery at 1210 Carson Graves Road, Watkinsville and Chappelle Gallery, located in the Historic 1827 Haygood House at 25 S Main Street, Watkinsville.
Patch: When did you start your business?
Jerry and Kathy Chappelle: Happy Valley Pottery, Inc. was set up in 1970. Chappelle Gallery, a DBA of Happy Valley Pottery Inc., opened its door for business in 2001.
Patch: Why art?
JC & KC: We knew we wanted to start an artist community when we moved to Georgia from Minnesota in 1970. Happy Valley Pottery was set up as an incubator to help artists understand their art as a business. This gave the artist a trial period to decide if this is what they wanted to do as a living. Also we wanted to show the impact of a group of artist has on economic development. Happy Valley Pottery has rented studio space to some very well-known artists, past and present.
Chappelle Gallery was started because we knew we couldn't make pottery the rest of our lives and we wanted to have it established before that day comes. Chappelle Gallery could help our local artists as well as our national friends. Both Happy Valley Pottery and Chappelle Gallery are tourist attractions. We were selected by Southern Living Magazine as the two Best Art places outside of Atlanta. Chappelle Gallery also received the 2010 Reader's Choice Award from the Athens Banner-Herald.
Patch: What is your favorite thing about your businesses?
JC & KC: Jerry does all the decorating on our pottery; he says he is a frustrated painter. Kathy's favorite thing is having her hands in the clay and seeing a finished piece.
Patch: What is the most challenging thing about running a business?
JC & KC: Making sure payroll, taxes, and deadlines to our commitments are met on time.
Patch: What are your long-term goals?
JC & KC: To continue making pottery as long as we can and keep all our clients happy. When it gets to the point we can't make pottery, we would like to sell the business to keep our dream alive.
Patch: What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a new business in the Oconee area?
JC & KC: Be sure you have done your research on your business interest. Make sure you have an exit plan if it does not work. Being undercapitalized can be your worst mistake. Be sure you are ready to put in the time for a new business. It's not a 9 to 5 job like you have when working for someone else.
Happy Valley Pottery is open from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Chappelle Gallery is open from 10 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Check out the businesses on Facebook at Happy Valley Pottery and Chappelle Gallery.
The annual Mini Craft Fair at Chappelle Gallery will be held on June 4 - 5, from 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Call 706-310-0985 for more details.