Creativity and the intricacies of human behaviour have always gone hand in hand for Rosa Willis. Little wonder then her business, Crock’d, perfectly blends art, imagination and wellbeing.
Rosa’s passion for the arts came at a very early age. The youngest of four girls, she tells Kochie’s Business Builders each sister was creative in their way.
“My older sisters Tara, Daria and Keely all have a love for the arts. Their talents range from visual art to theatre performance. For me, I fell in love with painting portraits when I lost a very close friend of mine in my late teens. I painted a portrait of him for his family as a way to process my grief. From that point, I’ve always turned to portraiture whenever I feel lost or disconnected.”
Indeed, acting, painting drawing, cardboard creations and runaway imaginations fill her childhood memories.
“I remember making ‘Polaroid cameras’ out of toilet paper rolls and pre-drawn on pictures. We were always creating and performing in the house,” recalls Rosa.
Initially, Rosa married her love for creativity and her interest in human behaviour with marketing and PR roles. In 2019, a conversation with her partner (Andrew) sparked the idea for what was to become Crock’d.
“We were both feeling extremely burnt out from our jobs. We wanted to wind down, and we’re looking for something to do that didn’t revolve around drinking alcohol,” says Rosa.
“Pottery was something that I was keen to introduce Andrew to as a potential new hobby for us to enjoy together. There were plenty of classes and workshops around, but nothing enabled you to learn and bring pottery into your own home.
“Once we had the idea for a DIY pottery kit, the rest came so naturally. We knew it was the perfect medium to help people have difficult conversations about their mental health. We also knew from our own experience that talking about your mental state is an uncomfortable and awkward topic. So, we set out to build a brand that was fun and light-hearted but with a deeply rooted mission.”
Rosa describes Crockd as an art therapy brand that enables people to get out of their heads and into their hands.
“With busy hands, your mind naturally enters a more reflective state,” she says.
Crock’d DIY kits also contain ‘Claybreakers’ – question cards about mental health to assist this process of reflection.
“Pottery is slow, hands-on and completely engaging, which makes it easier to craft the conversation’. There’s room for long comfortable silences, and you find yourself naturally entering a state of ‘flow’.
While you’re learning how to hand-build a vase, you’re also having these really deep conversations that help you to understand yourself and each other on a deeper level.”
Rosa believes it is these deep, honest conversations that help people feel more connected.
“They help us to identify if someone close to us is struggling and work out what might be making them anxious right now.
People often believe they aren’t any good at art – Rosa suggests it’s a misnomer that deserves to be broken down.
“We all know that exercise is good for our mental health. And we all accept that it’s something we can benefit from without being athletes or genetically blessed. But for some reason, we don’t apply the same thought to creativity. There’s a huge misconception that art is for artists, but Crockd is proving that this is simply not true,” she says.
“You can get all the benefits from hands-on creativity from home. You don’t have to feel embarrassed sitting in front of a class of other people with an expert judging your work! You can do it from home, enjoy the experience and lose yourself in the conversation.”
Rosa tells KBB, Crock’d is less about the outcome and more about the journey.
“As a brand, we’ve deliberately ensured that we don’t focus on the output of pottery because we don’t want anyone to think that the result is what matters.”
While many businesses have faced setbacks during COVID, the nature of the Crock’d model has ensured the company has thrived.
“We’ve been so fortunate with the DIY nature of our business. We were one of the lucky ones that were already positioned to be ‘at home entertainment’. COVID enabled us to support many local art studios and kilns unable to obtain customers due to closures. Our kits encourage people to take their pieces to their local kiln (which we help them find here: https://au.crockd.com/pages/kilns) to fire and complete their ceramics. Many of our affiliated studios said that if they didn’t have our students dropping off work, they might not have been able to keep their doors open.”
Still, Rosa says the last year hasn’t been without challenges, starting with learning how to work together as a couple, building a team and scaling the business.
“As with any business idea, competitors quickly appear. It’s been difficult to see other businesses copy so many aspects of our brand. But it’s been a great hard and fast lesson to help us work out who we are and where we’re going. We believe that as long as we are uniquely ourselves, no one can copy that.”
As 2020 evolved into annus horribilis for many small businesses, Rosa says Crock’d was thrown a lifeline when they joined Amazon Launchpad.
“Amazon has truly been such a supportive pillar for our business. Not only did the Launchpad open our eyes to Amazon as a marketing and distribution channel, but it provided the support we needed during 2020.
“Launchpad’s mentorship program not only connects you with other entrepreneurs going through similar things, but they provide mentors who share their stories and lessons. It’s these anecdotes that we often find ourselves referencing when we feel lost or stuck on a decision.
“It’s also been incredible with how passionate they are about helping us share and tell our story. They don’t just want you to sell on their platform; they want to help you build a long-lasting brand that can thrive on any platform,” Rosa concludes.
To discover more inspiring stories of women-led businesses, head to www.amazon.com.au/internationalwomensday
Find out how you can join the next generation of emerging brands on Amazon Launchpad here