Angela Smith Kirkman brought in some new ideas when she acquired the 27-year-old Paseo Pottery retail shop in an adobe structure on Paseo de Peralta.
For one, she added pottery classes six months ago. But it didn’t stop there — all of Paseo Pottery’s net profits now go to charity.
Nearly all the profit comes from the classes, at $75 per two-hour session, as the pottery shop generally breaks even, Kirkman said.
Since Kirkman took over in January 2018, Paseo Pottery has been an all-volunteer operation — including Kirkman, who takes no salary.
She pays her bills with her day job as owner of Atalaya Global, a translation service of primarily medical and pharmaceutical documents from a dozen languages into English. And her husband, Jason Kirkman, is one of the owners of Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery on Agua Fría Street, which will provide libations for Paseo Pottery’s April 26 “anniversary opening” event.
It’s during that celebration that Angela Kirkman will announce the charity that will receive all net profits from 2019. The charity will be selected from more than 1,000 votes cast by Paseo Pottery customers and students throughout 2018, including votes still to be cast at the April 26 event.
The selected charity will be paid off a year from now once the 2019 profits are tallied and taxes reconciled, said Kirkman, hoping the amount could be as much as $10,000.
Kirkman’s profits reached about $5,000 for 2018. The two charities for 2018 won a tie vote at a one-day voting session at Paseo Pottery’s opening event a year ago. Sky Center, a suicide intervention project, and the Santa Fe Watershed Association will each receive about $1,000, and another $2,613 was donated to a variety of charities over the past year, Kirkman said.
The idea to donate all of Paseo Pottery’s net profits came to her at Standing Rock, N.M., a remote spot northwest of Crownpoint.
“I was surrounded by people making a difference,” Kirkman said. “I needed to do something. It’s a way to use my passion for clay to do something good for the community.”
Paseo Pottery was established in 1991 as an artists’ co-op by ceramic artists Mike Walsh, Ginny Zipperer and Janet Williams. Kirkman has been a Paseo Pottery potter and volunteer for 15 years, and all the retail pottery at the store is made by those four and two other ceramists.
Williams, who owned the building and business, retired and sold the business to Kirkman at the start of 2018. Williams still owns the building, Kirkman said.
Going all-volunteer and donating the profits lets Kirkman look at Paseo Pottery as “something fun.”
“I had no interest to start another business,” she said.
But committing a business to donating all profits presents its own challenges. She signed up for guidance at the New Mexico Small Business Development Center, which counsels all sorts of businesses for no charge.
“She came in before she took ownership,” said Brian DuBoff, the center’s director. “It’s sort of a pre-venture even though it’s a 30-year-old business. We explored the possibility of a nonprofit or a co-op. She decided to be a for-profit and give the profits away. We discussed what is profit and how do you give your money away. You still need to pay utilities and other costs.”
Kirkman now has about 150 students a month crafting pottery. The $75 two-hour sessions include supplies, firing the pottery in the high-fire gas kiln, which reaches 2,250 degrees, and glazing.
She now has 15 volunteers teaching classes, running the shop and engaging in pottery.
“If I get more volunteers to teach classes, we can have more classes,” Kirkman said. “I think 300 students is realistic.”
And more students means a bigger pot for charities.