Business SPOTLIGHT: Aqua Culture, LLC with owner Laurie Clark
“Aqua Culture is a wonderful example of the expertise and product diversity found among our Toledo small businesses. Not only do they host ceramic classes, they also showcase an ocean wonderland of fish, coral and accessories in the heart of the Great Lakes. I encourage everyone to stop in to be amazed and educated!” – Sandy Spang, Deputy Director Economic Development
Laurie Clark, owner of Aqua Culture, LLC, was driving home one day thinking about her future after leaving a 28-year career in advertising and marketing. Clark thought that she wanted to focus on a new and exciting venture that would give her purpose.
Her childhood hobby of taking care of salt water fish came to mind. It was a passion project with her brother when they were young. The two spent hours taking care of fish tanks and coral. Her decision was made. Clark spoke with her husband and they decided start a local business.
How did you start your business and why in this location?
We opened seven years ago on October 22nd in the Suder Square Shopping Center. It was a lot of work. I looked in the window and thought it was perfect because it had everything I needed. At the time I had 22 fish tanks to highlight.
I loved this area because it looked like it could use a boost and I had a feeling that I could really make a splash. The hair salon was the only shop open until KT’s Diner moved in. After I started my shop, many others followed. It gave new life to Suder Square.
Why did you branch out in to ceramics?
When COVID hit my fish business went pretty much down the drain. I had to try to think of something to stay afloat (no pun intended). I wanted to remain open because I appreciated the people in this area and I wanted to continue to serve this community.
When I was a little girl, my mom used to drop me off at a neighbor's house and I did ceramics in her basement. It was a special time for me.
When I started doing ceramics again, I wanted to share it with friends. I knew my shop would be a peaceful space for people to come and paint ceramics and just enjoy being together. I cajoled my husband into driving me to Columbus where we bought a used kiln. I started making the molds and that is where it all started.
What are your classes like?
I pretty much have an open studio. It's 2 hours at a time. I pour most of the pieces at home. I clean them, fire them, and then I bring them here. A lot of ladies like to paint pieces to put around their ponds or in their yards.
But now Christmas is starting and the trees are going to be a big thing. I have new villages, ornaments and snowmen. I'm going to hold a snowman village specific painting party this month in which I'll send out invites on Facebook and people can respond and see how we do.
Aqua Culture, LLC combines fish, corals and my ceramics. They are two very different parts of my business, but the ladies and my customers love it. People come in and they say ‘hi’ to the fish and then come into the studio and create. It’s pretty amazing and very charming.
What do you see in Aqua Cultures future?
I'm happy. I really am happy. I don't want to get too big but I definitely would love more customers. It’s tough out there economically so I try to keep my prices as fair as I can. If someone walks in and says ‘I love this but there's no way I can afford it right now,’ I work with them.
I have a little boy whose mom drops him off on Saturdays, the most well-behaved little child I've ever met, and I work with him at little to no cost because I know his mother doesn't have a lot of money. He loves it here and I know he is safe and being creative and that's the most important thing.
Aqua Culture, LLC
5153 Suder Ave.
Tuesday thru Thursday 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Saturday and Sunday 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Call for a private studio session