March Behind the Business Feature
Erika Niva, Owner, Keramiikka Maan
Meet Erika Niva, owner and artist behind Keramiikka Maan, a local pottery company. Erika is a multimedia artist who focuses mainly in creating functional and sculptural ceramic work. She has always had a passion for creating and working with her hands. When she was in university, Erika started making pottery as a side hustle and in her third year, she decided to take her small business to the next level. Through the Thunder Bay and District Entrepreneur Canter’s Summer Company program, Erika officially launched Keramiikka Maan in May 2020. Since then, Erika has continued her entrepreneurial journey and continues to sell her pottery through Keramiikka Maan. Find her on Instagram @ erika.niva.art or visit keramiikkamaan.com for more information. Q & A with Erika What drew you to entrepreneurship? I want people to have things that make them happy, but that can also be useful. The idea that someone could enjoy using an item that I enjoy making encourages me to create more. I wouldn’t want to sell just anything—knowing that the products I create will bring somebody joy also brings me joy. What inspired you to launch your business? Making a hobby into a career can be a difficult thing to do all by yourself, so by working with Summer Company to launch, I was able to do it sooner in my life than I otherwise would have. I figured if I didn’t do it while I was young I might not ever get to it, so I just wanted to make it official. What advice would you give to a fellow student who is looking to start a business? Know what you want to sell and why you want to sell it. What does your product (or service) provide for your customers? How does it benefit you—is it enjoyable for you, does it push you in ways you’ve never tried to push? If you’re just doing something to make money and don’t have any real desire to provide a specific thing, maybe think a little harder, haha. It will make future you much happier. How did the Summer Company program help you in becoming an entrepreneur? Summer Company connected me with many great people within the arts community and also just throughout the city. Connections are so important because you get to know your customers, your peers, and your competition. It helped me realize that being an entrepreneur is more about relationships than I had thought. What was your most memorable moment as a Summer Company participant? Most memorable moment was probably when my coordinator Kirsten Kabernick came out to Kakabeka, where I lived, to visit and take some pictures of me making pottery in my yard.