As a Beacon Hill resident and a mother of four, including one child with special needs, Allie Carroll said she was hard-pressed to find many suitable activities for her kids in the neighborhood, which is what compelled her to open RAINBOWS Pottery Studio at 15R Charles St.
Carroll, a 12-year resident of Myrtle Street, was able to achieve what she describes as this seemingly “impossible” dream of becoming the proprietor of a Charles Street business by sinking her life savings into the venture.
“I put my life savings into renovating the space so it would be exactly what I envisioned for both the adults and children of the community,” Carroll wrote. “There was nothing like this on the street, and I couldn’t wait for people to enjoy it.”
After shuttering in mid-March in accordance with Gov. Charlie Baker’s response to the current public-health crisis, RAINBOWS reopened May 20, but business didn’t start to pick up again until the end of August, Carroll said, and even now, her revenues are only a quarter of what they were at this time last year.
The popular summer camp that RAINBOWS launched upon the business’s inception has suffered similarly: it typically serves 120 campers each summer, but that number dwindled to just 30 this past summer.
(Despite RAINBOWS’ recent revenue losses, Carroll said she still opens the studio pro bono for specific groups about twice each week.)
The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., based on demand, and when camp isn’t in session, RAINBOWS’ business hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. While these are the “guaranteed” hours of operation, Carroll said she is also willing to open the business “at any hour, at any time” for customers, and that the studio is also available for ladies nights, bachelorette parties, bridal showers, baby showers and private events.
One major way that RAINBOWS has adapted to the pandemic is that patrons no longer shape the pottery pieces themselves before each one is fired and glazed on site, but instead now they pick from pre-made pieces, including pots, plates, mugs, figurines, piggy-banks, jewelry boxes, to decorate and paint while at the studio.
Children can put their finished work on consignment with RAINBOWS, which displays it in the studio and sends kids a check from the business’s account after each piece sells. “In addition, children are encouraged to paint pottery as ‘gifts’ for people who may need to receive some thing to keep their spirits up during this time,” Carroll added.
RAINBOWS’ other offerings include to-go paint kits (couriered or pick-up options); private events/parties (in-home or at the studio for groups of no more than eight); and painting at any time by appointment or walk-in, and the studio also offers custom pieces of pottery hand-painted by Carroll for sale.
Yet despite a recent uptick in business, Carroll is now faced with the difficult decision of permanently shutting down RAINBOWS or instead soldiering on through these trying times.
“RAINBOWS is a place for love,” Carroll wrote. “The love of it and for it has kept it fruitful and making ends meet during this time. RAINBOWS loves Boston and needs a little extra Boston love now.”
Visit RAINBOWS Pottery Studio online at rainbowspottery.com, or reach Allie Carroll by phone at 617-306-6131 for more information or to schedule a visit to the studio.