I started early. I was about eleven when I first held a block of polymer clay in my hands and little I knew about the journey unfolding in front of me. It’s been a rollercoaster that led to finding freedom and happiness in things I’ve been doing. But let me start from the beginning.
I was born in Pilsen, in 1998. It’s a relatively small city in the Czech Republic, in the middle of Europe. I was always a way too ambitious child in kindergarten and during studies at primary school as well. Everyone knew about me, I knew every teacher, some loved me, and others hated me for the drive I had inside of me that I didn’t know how to work with. For a long time I thought I had to be first and the best in everything, but the truth hidden deeply inside of me was that I’ve not been made for any kind of system that you have to fit into and be quiet, including studying at schools.
I did many things in my childhood. Drawing, dancing, swimming, and other kinds of typical activities were slowly replaced by art only. I was eleven, founded my first blog and was proud that three people have been reading it. Me, my mum and dad.
These days I feel kind of embarrassed about all the little businesses I have been doing since that age. I was able to make bead jewelry and with the help of my grandma sell many of them at markets and then buy new materials. Then I even earned way too much money selling those materials to my friends who found an obsession making jewelry as well. Gosh, I was clever and a natural at it. I also felt kind of alone because there were not many similar little girls around.
Beads and craft materials were replaced by polymer clay. It felt natural, love at first sight including days and days creating and experimenting in my room. I remember that so many times I didn’t go to school just to have more time for claying. I loved it much more and when I realized how huge the community behind this material was. I have been amazed ever since.
My ambitions drove me to contact different kinds of productions, magazines, creative platforms and others, so many times I truly ended up having a few minutes on national television dedicated to myself, or having articles published in art and design magazines when I was just a teenager. I never had a problem getting on the phone and calling someone about my idea that I developed a minute ago. That has never changed.
It all happened very fast. The truth is that I devoted every single day to the polymer, started attending classes with masters that were coming to our country to teach and exploring the internet to see how different techniques are made. Me and my dad decided to open a little polymer class in our city, so every Thursday I devoted myself to teaching a group of people of different ages who fell in love with this material as well. That was the start of sharing my knowledge with others.
To be honest, it feels so surreal to me, that I was actually twelve when I started teaching and presenting what polymer clay can offer. I observe many people of this age nowadays and I can’t believe that I did so many things so early when I was just a kid. I know I did well, I knew how to present, talk, create and sell. But I am not gonna lie, many people were telling me during the last years that I started too early and when it was time to hang out with the kids, I actually worked in my children's room, happily, but worked.
Those little local classes lead to founding a family business with my dad. We realized how poor quality the equipment we bought for the attendees was and we were a great team to change that. Dad was making the first prototypes in our garage that I was trying and giving him the feedback of real end user. Lucy Clay company did well, we were proud of changing the world of polymer from the little country of ours as more and more people in the community were talking and using our products as extruders, machines and lately slicers.
It was a success but disruptive to the harmony of our family. I can imagine now how stressful it had to be for my parents to rely on selling products, which meant me showing how to use them. But I can also remember my feelings and anxiety when I was worried that things would not go well. I was crying a lot, dad was stressed a lot, mum and my little sister were waiting at home for us to come from clay events and there was no time for spending a quality time together, without business or ideas popping into our minds.
I learned a lot at art high school, studying interior design as well as being part of the business with my dad and suddenly having more employees was a lot. It was funny to see the complete opposite of myself being a part of the school system. I had no ambitions of proving to others my qualities. I didn’t care about teachers and their opinions of me having my own business. I knew I was doing my own things the best I could and tried to do the same when it came to school stuff, but many times I could not and I accepted it.
It was my last year at school. I managed to organize two huge polymer clay events with hundreds of attendees from all over the world coming to Czech Republic, started publishing Polymer Week Magazine and started helping other companies with visual identity and social media as well. It was crazy. Final exams came, university entrance exams, my wonderful little brother came into our life and I was kind of babysitting a lot plus traveling abroad a few times to teach my own classes. With not much time for our family business, as it was needed, things kind of started going separate ways.
I guess it was very stressful for my dad, who probably couldn't imagine my stressful life itself. Being the face and name of our company was harder and harder to fulfill. I could not do everything, I didn’t have the capacity to be it all, and I didn’t want to. When your business is growing, with that growth you get more responsibility but also lose the ability to do things the way you truly want. That’s exactly what happened.
We ended up going different ways. I took the only thing that was officially mine, which was the Polymer Week Magazine that no one could recreate in the same way as I did. The rest of it, the tools I helped to design, the name of the company, the team behind, stayed with my dad. I left kind of by myself, because I wished to do things from my heart again, in the style and way I truly believe in. And I have never regretted that decision, even though I had to start all over again.
It took me a while to figure out how to create a valid company from the Polymer Week itself. But I have been surrounded by so many wonderful people that gave me help and I offered them work to be paid for, that it locked into the right position perfectly.
Graphic designer (from the same primary school), translator (long friend), editor (American artist), photo editor (high school-mate), accountant manager (from the first company), my younger sister and me has been working together as a great time that has managed to publish new issues of the magazine, a book, tools and products dedicated to polymer clay, plus hundreds pieces of online content we have been sharing on our social media. Thank you to everyone!
These days, after getting that “super important” piece of paper from the university, you will find me sitting quietly in the living room or my studio. Working, creating, claying, painting, drawing, or solving problems and managing the business. I love it all very much.
I would not believe that it will come so early, but in my twenty three years, I am free. I am free to do anything I dream about. I just have to get up and make it work.
I started ten years ago. Those years of living, creating and working brought me here, where my story continues to unknown paths. I am grateful for my crazy ambitious little me, for the experience and things I learned thanks to my dad, the support from my parents and family, but also the sacrifice I often had to make. I am grateful for those two boys that influenced me and I loved and spent time with but things didn’t work out with all of that. When I see it now all together, I know it all happens for a reason.
Thank you for being a part of my story. And for the listening.