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The Clayground now open

Becky Sletto holds a finished pottery piece at The Clayground in Detroit Lakes. She is using M State-DL as a home base that is part of the school?s incubator space being utilized by local entrepreneurs. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

Becky Sletto still has her day job as an administrative assistant at the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce.

But she also has a new business cooking -- or incubating -- depending on one's perspective.

Sletto opened The Clayground to the public recently.

It's a paint-your-own pottery studio and all a customer needs to do is just show up.

"I've been open to the public for really only a week," Sletto said.

Most of October and November was spent getting everything ready, hosting off-site parties and hosting an open house.

Located on the Minnesota State and Community College-Detroit Lakes campus, the business benefits from the school's Business and Entrepreneurial Services.

Starting a pottery business has been a goal of Sletto for several years.

"I had wanted to do this for about eight years," Sletto said. "I was first introduced to pottery eight years ago when I was looking for a job to help pay my bills while I was going to school. I ended up in a paint-your-own pottery studio and from there, my love of pottery flourished."

While in graduate school, she opened up a similar studio in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

The Clayground is in an industrial space on the east side of the campus building.

She prepped for the opening of the business through an entrepreneurship course.

"It really prepared me for more of the financial and legal portions of starting your own business," Sletto said.

Before taking the class, Sletto said she didn't know how long it would be before she could open her own business, but everything came together fairly quickly.

"It turned out the incubator space was open and it was a really good fit for me to take some risks on a lower level instead of going out into the community and opening up something there," Sletto said.

As for the business itself, while in an industrial space, Sletto designed it so that it has a warmer feel.

The furniture is modern instead of cold steel.

Customers select the piece of pottery they want to design -- called bisque -- and then go to work decorating it.

The Clayground provides all of the decorating material.

"You name it, I have the tools for them to do it," Sletto said.

The paint is water-based and comes out of clothes easily. It's also lead-free.

After decorating, the bisque is glazed by Sletto and goes into a kiln.

She said she has about a week's turnaround time from decoration to finished product.

Decorating is for people of all ages, Sletto said.

She has had young children and senior citizens participate.

"I've had a 5-week-old do a handprint on a tile to older people who come in and have a girls night," Sletto said.

The learning curve for decorating pottery is short, and Sletto said she finds that participants catch on quickly.

"It's fun and allows people to tap into the creative side of themselves," she said.

The Clayground is open to small groups to come in studio by appointment and during the weekend.

It's open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.

It can be reached at 844-CLAY (2529) or via e-mail at