Pottery studio ‘defies the odds’

Where but the Central Coast could your livelihood and passion for the arts merge for an active, successful lifestyle?

Since 1974, Hedy and Ross Hale have lived their dream careers owning Full Moon Studio and Gallery in Morro Bay.

“Our business defies the odds,” the couple agreed. Truth be told, they worked hard and adapted to market trends.

The couple met in Santa Barbara. Ross had just graduated from the Brooks Institute, and Hedy was interning. At age 23, they knew they could conquer the world.

Hedy finished college in Chico, where Ross opened a gallery. He worked in glass and she designed coil pots. Her macramé-held pots were hot decorating items.

They sold direct — out of their car and at street fairs — until Ross developed their mail-order business. It allowed them to live anywhere.

Morro Bay’s small community feel attracted them. And Ross yearned to surf every day.

They leased their studio at 345 Harbor St. for $75 a month and purchased in 1979 for one-dollar down.

“We had to sell a lot of pots to make the payments,” Ross said. His business sense prompted him to offer custom-designed functional art, such as decorative bathroom sinks.

“In 1978, Cal Poly’s Chuck Jennings invited us to share his show at the San Luis Art Gallery,” Hedy said, “It changed the course of what we would create and sell. Our sales went from clay pots to fine arts.” Full Moon morphed into a gallery.

“Still, we remained versatile,” Ross said. “We’ve always tried to reinvent ourselves.”

For eight years, he taught at Cuesta and she taught at San Luis Adult Education. Now they teach classes at Full Moon. Group and private lessons begin again in October.

Pawprints, a ceramic handprint business, might be their best innovation. Ross calls it “another leg in their business model for success — one-of-a-kind fine art pieces, regular classes at the gallery and a signature marketing concept.”

The combination provided a revenue stream that helped buy their home and fund their daughter’s college education.

At first, Pawprints designs were personal gifts. Customers noticed and asked if they could order their own keepsake. Many wanted a class to learn to make them.

Five years ago, they hired Tom Walters of Morro Bay to document the process. The video training session is available at www.pawprintsmb.com. The Hales’ video has jumpstarted home-based business opportunities worldwide.

They’ve also traveled many domestic and foreign lands. “No matter where we travel, we always know we live in one of the most beautiful places,” Hedy said.

For gallery hours or class registration, check www.fullmoonmb.com.

Reach Judy Salamacha at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 805.801-1422.