TRURO – Sara Bonnyman never thought an unexpected graduation gift and entrance into a camp for people much older than herself would lead to a successful career.
The owner of Sara Bonnyman Pottery in Tatamagouche clearly remembers receiving a pottery wheel from her parents as a graduation gift “because they couldn’t think of anything else to give me.”
The 60-year-old also recalls as a 14-year-old going to a pottery summer camp in Quebec that was only open to adults.
“Thankfully, I was tall,” Bonnyman laughed of not being denied entrance.
And it’s a good thing. The more she embraced the craft of pottery the more she fell in love with it, and has 40 years of Sara Bonnyman Pottery to prove it.
In fact, on Thursday, Bonnyman was awarded the Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce’s Export Achievement Award during the Small Business Week annual luncheon in Truro.
The honour was given to Bonnyman, in part, because of her thriving business that ships pottery items to more than a dozen countries worldwide, caters to hundreds of clients, produces thousands of quality pottery items, specializes in moss scuttling for a niche market and helps make Tatamagouche a destination stop.
“This means I am acknowledged for what I’m doing. It’s incredible exposure,” Bonnyman told the Truro Daily News, adding she was shocked to find out she was receiving the award.
“It was dead silence. I couldn't believe it … I didn’t expect any of this (success). I hoped to make pots people would use and earn my keep in Tatamagouche,” she said. “There’s not very many of us who make a living (from pottery). I was told it was not possible, but it is!”
Being a successful businesswoman is very empowering as well, she said, especially because Bonnyman is also providing many benefits to those who embrace her talent.
“I’m providing cultural diversion; I’m providing an experience … every child that comes into my shop walks out with a block of clay … and people can watch me work. I think
it’s important to show that you can be successful by being a little different,” she said.
“And I’m adding to the atmosphere of Tatamagouche,” which has economic spinoffs for the village as well because many of Bonnyman’s clients are tourists and people going to cottages, she said.
Bonnyman said she “doesn’t see an end in sight” for her pottery business and offers some sage advice to other crafters. She said having a sense of curiosity and good work ethic are vital.
“Finding out how you can do some things better than they have already been done,” is key, she said.
Bonnyman can be contacted by calling 902-657-3215. Her Maple Avenue, Tatamagouche workshop is open for business by appointment.
Recipients of small business awards from the Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce were:
- New Small Business of the Year: Wink Day Spa
- Small Business Achievement Award: Wilson Equipment Ltd.
- Small Business Innovation Award: East Coast Dental Centre
- Small Business Export Achievement Award: Sara Bonnyman Pottery of Tatamagouche.
- Honourable mentions: Nook and Cranny Pub and Meech Holdings