Diana Palomo and Amy Klingler are the creative duo behind The Pigeon & The Hen Pottery Studio, located in downtown South Bend, Indiana. The pair met at a local art museum eight years ago, instantly connecting over their shared love for ceramics, desire to put their Fine Arts degrees to use, and dream to start a business.
In 2014, they launched a pop-up paint-your-own-pottery shop through a South Bend community initiative that provided budding entrepreneurs with free retail space. The only activity of its kind in the area, their concept was extremely well received by the community.
Convinced by the demand, Amy and Diana invested their savings into a permanent storefront, offering paint-your-own ceramics and wheel throwing. The Pigeon & The Hen Pottery Studio is bright, colorful, and inviting, reflecting the owners’ philosophy that anyone – no matter their art background – can come in and enjoy creating a lasting piece. With over 500 paint-your-own items to choose from, as well as wheelthrowing classes and open studio time, any customer can find a way to tap into their creativity.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the spring of 2020, Amy and Diana closed the doors of their studio for three months. “It was tough,” Amy said. “We put the whole store online in 11 days.” During the closure, they offered to-go kits through their online store to continue to engage their community.
Despite their pivot to online sales, revenues plummeted, and they needed emergency funds to cover operational costs. Receiving both a PPP loan and a South Bend Small Business Resiliency Grant allowed Amy and Diana to keep their staff employed and to update the studio to meet COVID safety standards. The funds also allowed Amy and Diana to create their own art, now for sale at their shop. “We were so invested in running the store, we lost ourselves and our own work,” Diana said. “The funding gave us the ability to build our brand as artists and make our own art.”
By December 2020, revenues increased significantly. The co-owners look forward to getting back to in-person events this summer and continuing their mission of offering an inviting place for everyone to be creative.