Lalese Stamps: 'People were wanting to support Black-owned businesses'
2020 was a year of growth for the small business owner.
Lalese Stamps, Ceramicist
The founder of Lolly Lolly Ceramics made a difficult choice in 2020. As her side hustle took off after a surge in demand for products from Black-owned businesses, the 2017 Columbus College of Art & Design graduate decided to abandon her full-time job as a graphic designer to concentrate on her budding business.
On growth amid the protests: “That’s exactly when my business literally went from zero to 100, and I think the reason for it is because people were wanting to support Black-owned businesses.” She acknowledges mixed feelings about this initial surge, when she was picking up 10,000 Instagram followers a day. “I remember just thinking, ‘Wow, I don’t even care about ceramics right now.’ I’m literally out here in the streets every day. I’m dirty. I’m tired. I’m still working full time. It definitely felt performative for a while. I felt like it wasn’t my work that people were following me for. It was for this whole ‘support Black’ kind of thing.”
On what changed her mind: “I was still gaining a lot of followers and still getting a lot of attention well after the fact. Even today, I get hundreds of new followers a day. It made me realize it isn’t just because I’m Black. It is because of the work I’m actually making.”
On going full time: What started out as a side hustle to raise money for a 2017 study abroad program is now Stamps’ full-time gig. “There’s always that conundrum of being a creative and how do you adjust to being a business owner. But I actually really like being a business owner. I think I almost like it more. I think it’s interesting to be in a position where you can build a brand and make it what you need it to be or want it to be.”