Business is a pleasure for Clay Café owner

‘There are so many new things I want to add here'

Published on January 3, 2013

By Grace Murray

You never know what you'll be able to buy on Kijiji. And you should never underestimate the persuasive powers of a spouse.

Jaime Rhae Oudemans has experienced the truth of both of those statements first hand.

"Four years ago I was thinking about a job change," said Rhae Oudemans. "My husband found on Kijiji that Clay Café in Truro was for sale and he was convinced that buying that business was my next move. I wasn't at all sure about that, but he kept telling me it was right up my alley and something I'd really enjoy and be good at.

"Eventually, after a lot of discussions and some arguments, he convinced me."

Is she happy she made the decision?

"Oh, for sure!" she said. "It's a lot of fun and now that we're in our new space on Inglis Place, there are so many things I'm looking forward to adding."

For Rhae Oudemans, the café's current location, in the former Margolians building on Inglis Place, offers a lot of positives.

"It's a great old building and with our space now being one big open room, it seems much more welcoming. We have a lot more walk-in traffic, with more kids coming and going in this area, too."

More space has also allowed for the addition of a retail section, featuring local art, including hand-painted giftware, paintings and sketches.

According to Rhae Oudemans, one thing that makes the business so much fun is the wide range of people it attracts, from younger children to teens, right through to seniors.

"Art encompasses everyone," she said. "Everyone can do this and enjoy it. Some people work on projects by themselves, some come with friends or as part of a group, some are part of birthday parties or company Christmas parties for children."

Parties are also a big hit, both with kids and their parents.

"It's a different style of party, where the kids get to have a fun time being creative," explained Rhae Oudemans. "They can choose from about 20 different items to paint and the guest of honour gets a keepsake tile with his or her name on it which everyone signs. The parents just have to bring the cake!"

But there are lots of regular customers, too. Some are making items for themselves. Others are making gifts.

Rhae Oudemans notes there are a wide variety of popular items, from sets of dishes to piggy banks for all the grandchildren, but mugs are probably the biggest sellers.

"Mugs are easy for children to paint and a useful item for them to give everyone on their gift lists," she said. "And, of course, the most unique and often best-loved gift you can give is one you've made yourself."

"We encourage customers to start by picking an item that speaks to them. Then, we give them a quick rundown on the paints and how they work, show them our selection of design tools including stencils and stamps, and our staff is always on hand to help with ideas or advice if it's needed."

Rhae Oudemans said the café often creates a timewarp for customers.

"They come in planning to stay for just an hour and two or three hours later, they're still here. We have a variety of refreshments to add to the casual social environment, so it's always fun to stay for awhile."

And although Rhae Oudemans may have needed a lot of convincing to move into the world of business ownership, there's no looking back now.

"There are so many new things I want to add here," she laughed. "I have room now to let my imagination run wild and I'm thinking of new things to do every day. It's great."

Grace Murray is the promotions and marketing co-ordinator for the Downtown Truro Partnership. Her column featuring downtown businesses appears monthly in the Truro Daily News.