Pet groomer adds ceramics to her business mix

Owner of Bonsai Pet in Saukville turns her hobby into a second venture
Ozaukee Press Staff

After a long day at the Bonsai Pet grooming salon in Saukville, owner Lori Gulling often starts a second shift throwing clay in her basement for her hobby turned second business, Juniper re-al.

Gulling said she started ceramics in high school and always enjoyed the work but had to put the hobby on the shelf while tackling other projects.

One such project was opening Bonsai Pet in 2008, a business that now boasts three full-time groomers.

Feeling established with Bonsai, Gulling said she decided to take a ceramics class in Milwaukee to get back into pottery.

“I had always wanted to jump back in and give it a try,” she said.

It was at that class that Gulling said she met her mentor, who continued to work with her after the class and help her find equipment to start her own basement studio.

“It was very helpful to have someone with knowledge willing to take the time and teach me some hands on stuff separate from a classroom environment,” Gulling said.

Within two years of taking the class she had a fully operational studio and started cranking out bowls, mugs and other vessels.

And so Juniper re-al was born, its name  pulling from juniper — a plant known for cleansing and protection — and Camino Re’al, meaning royal road, Gulling said.

Depending on how busy Bonsai is, Gulling said she works on her ceramics twice a week — an amount she would like to see grow.

Gulling said she hadn’t intended to turn her pottery into a business, but after producing enough work she wanted to find ways to make her hobby viable. A lack of shelf space may have prompted her to clear out some pieces as well.

“You can only keep so many in your cupboard,” Gulling said.

She set up a table in Bonsai to feature her ceramic work and sold some pieces. She then became a vendor at the Thiensville Farmers Market last year and had a good season of sales.

Looking to have her wares featured elsewhere, she partnered with the Grafton Arts Mill, which has some of her work for purchase.

With Bonsai Pet seeing a rush of business as the weather warms, Gulling said she hasn’t had much time to explore having her pottery in more locations, but that is the long-term goal.

Also on the horizon for Gulling may be a new studio space where she would have room to expand, a showroom to sell her pieces and a space where she could host classes.

Gulling said she would also be interested in working with a coffee shop or restaurant for a small order of ceramic wares.

While operating both Bonsai and Juniper re-al can keep her busy, Gulling said the businesses allow her to fulfill her passions and to keep her hands busy.

“I couldn’t sit behind a compute or do that sort of thing. They’re both very active jobs,” she said.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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