Woman brings paint-your-own pottery store to Lake Mills
Published 10:28 am Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Art is the focus of one Lake Mills woman, as both her job and the business she owns are artistically inclined.
Brook Byars, who works as an art teacher at Lake Mills High School, also owns Highway 69 Pottery, a paint-your-own pottery store.
Byars started her business eight years ago, but relocated to Lake Mills last summer. Before moving, she lived in Norwalk, Iowa, near Des Moines. She grew up in Lake Mills and moved back because she got her teaching job.
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She also moved her business to Lake Mills with her and now works out of a building owned by her parents just past Larson Manufacturing and the Winnebago plant.
She started her business because she saw similar paint-your-own pottery businesses and thought it would be fun and more affordable to do it on her own. She wanted to make it more affordable for her would-be customers.
Byars ran the business out of her garage and advertised by word of mouth. She said she never planned for the pottery business to be her full-time job; she wanted it to be something fun she could do on the side when she has spare time.
The shop has no set store hours. People can come in and paint pottery by appointment and Byars also travels to parties. Sometimes she will be open on a Saturday if she has a few hours, but she said she likes being open by appointment.
Byars said she’s always had a big interest in art, and that’s what led her to get an art teaching degree. She also has other types of art available at the business, including glass fusing.
She said she learned glass fusing from her grandmother five years ago and started including that at the store.
Byars makes custom T-shirts, in a process she said is similar to painting with bleach. The custom shirts will be introduced to her store over the summer, she said. She first tried making the shirts for her daughter’s birthday in March and she said they were a big hit. From there, she decided to add them to her store.
For any of the services Byars offers, she said she will always make and sell any custom items.
As for business, Byars said things are going well. As more people hear about the business, the more groups of both adults and children she has been getting into the store and going to parties for.
“The word’s getting out there,” she said.
While business has been about what she expected, Byars said small businesses are important to communities like Lake Mills. She said people in town like to support local business owners.
“People are always looking for something unique to bring to social groups,” she said.
And Byars has had a number of different groups she’s worked with, including Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and church groups.
She also said people don’t have to travel far to have something fun, interesting and different to do.
Byars lives in Lake Mills with her husband, Justin; her three children, Kit, Dottie and Betsy; and pets Buddy the dog and Freeda the cat. When she isn’t working, Byars works as a volleyball coach.
Address: Lake Mills
Occupation: Art teacher at Lake Mills High School, owner of Highway 69 Pottery
Family: Husband, Justin; children Kit, 11, Dottie, 8, and Betsy, 4; dog, Buddy; cat, Freeda
Interesting fact: Byars said she loves to play volleyball as well as coach it, and she plays for women’s club volleyball as well