The chalkboard that sits on the sidewalk in front of the Hampton Art Space on West Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays reads: “Ages 0-178 Welcome!”
Twenty-four-year-old Jackie Maloney, who opened the doors to her “Paint Your Own Pottery” shop—or PYOP—last Valentine’s Day, explained during a recent interview that she wanted to provide her hometown with something that it’s been missing in recent years: a place where both the young and old alike can have some fun, while getting their hands dirty and fiddling with their creative side.
When she was younger, Ms. Maloney spent most of her summers off from school working at Shinnecock Hardware, which is owned and operated by her father, Tom Maloney, and located just up the road from the Hampton Art Space. She spent one summer working at Greenport Art & Design, another PYOP shop, before graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in illustration.
Ms. Maloney said she was inspired to open her own business while driving along Montauk Highway in the fall of 2011. She recalls being saddened by the number of vacant stores dotting the downtown Hampton Bays area.
“PYOP was the missing link,” Ms. Maloney said, explaining that a shop like hers would help fill a void and also generate additional foot traffic for other stores and restaurants in Hampton Bays. Her shop also features a gallery and gift shop, similar to the PYOP store in Greenport, where she was previously employed.
“Greenport Art & Design showed me how all those aspects can work together seamlessly,” she said.
Since opening her doors a year ago, Ms. Maloney said she has been delighted to see such great diversity in the ages of those who step foot inside her shop to paint pottery. She explained that she believes painting is therapeutic and helps people relax.
“Something about pottery helps people open up,” said Ms. Maloney, who compiles uplifting music playlists for her shop, providing her painters with a positive atmosphere.
But the Hampton Art Space offers more than pottery to paint. In addition to stocking a wide selection of prefabricated pieces, the most popular being ceramic mugs, the shop allows customers to develop their own palettes, offering colors like “Tickled Pink” and “Orange Crush.” Customers, depending on how much they want to spend, have plenty of pieces to choose from, including ceramic plates, piggybanks and pitchers.
Ms. Maloney also hosts a variety of events at her shop, including a Ladies’ Night the third Thursday of every month, where women come to schmooze, drink wine and glaze pottery. She hosts an Art Club every Friday, where children between the ages of 6 and 10 can learn new glazing techniques and work on art projects. The shop also hosts birthday parties, where kids can paint pottery and pig out on pizza.
Upon entering the shop, customers are greeted by a chic boutique filled with art supplies and handmade creations, the latter often inspired by her seaside hometown, available for purchase. Some of the items for sale, including hand-poured soy candles, seashell necklaces and art made from driftwood, are made by Ms. Maloney’s mother, Jeanne Maloney, who is also an artist.
Jeanne Maloney said she and her husband, Tom, believed that their daughter was making a smart decision when she decided to open her own shop. It was Ms. Maloney who encouraged her daughter to enroll in private drawing classes while attending high school at the Long Island Academy of Fine Art, which is now located in Glen Cove.
Mr. Maloney, his friends and employees helped his daughter get her shop ready for its grand opening, putting it all together in about two months. “I wanted the space to feel open, bright, light and happy,” said Jackie Maloney, “And I think we achieved that.”
After graduating from college, Ms. Maloney, then 21, said she invested in a high-quality printer and began showcasing her works at outdoor arts and crafts shows on the East End, between May and October. She said she learned a lot about merchandising from repeatedly redesigning her booth. Over time, she said she learned what her customers were looking for, which gave her direction.
The experience also helped her make some valuable connections, including having met local Chef Jason Casey at her booth during the Maritime Festival in Greenport. He purchased a watercolor lobster print of hers, and explained that he had a lobster cookbook for sale. They are now collaborating on an illustrated cookbook featuring local dishes.
She explained that most illustrators need at least five years to grow their personal brand, something she continues to work at. Part of her freelance illustration work consists of sending samples of her art to art directors and buyers in hopes of landing licensing work with larger companies.