Client Spotlight: Grand Opening of Corgi Clay Art Center LLC

Hard work and perseverance pay off. After years of planning and hard work Debra Balestreri is planning the grand opening of Corgi Clay Art Center LLC. Debra started her journey with a Kickstarter campaign back in 2021. She succeeded in securing over $40,000 in pledges to make her vision of adding value to the arts community in her hometown a reality. The Kickstarter campaign helped partially fund her idea of leasing and transforming the soon-to-be-open space in North Stafford.

Debra first visited the University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center in late 2021 to plan for the remaining funding that the business needed in order to open its doors. Over the next several months Debra worked to develop her loan package and worked with a local business lender to obtain the funding needed to open her doors.

Debra is no stranger to the art scene in Virginia. She studied fine art and education at The University of Mary Washington, earning her BA in Studio Art and her Virginia State Teaching License in 2003. In 2007 Debra earned her MFA in Ceramic Sculpture and Post-Graduate Teaching License from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Soon after moving back to Virginia, Debra began her fourteen-year career at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton as the Director of Visual Arts Education. During that fourteen-year period, Debra also began exhibiting nationwide, teaching local ceramics classes, had her first solo exhibition and rekindled her relationship with her former alma-mater and was invited to return as an adjunct professor for the University of Mary Washington where she taught Ceramics, Design, and Sculpture between 2009 and 2021.

Debra opened Corgi Clay LLC, an e-commerce pottery business in 2020 and hit the ground running. She offered small classes in pottery for four people, attended the Long Family Farmers Market every Sunday, and partnered with local businesses like Barley Naked Brewing Company LLC and the former 610 Donuts to supply mugs and steins to sell. Debra saw potential in Stafford county to grow an appreciation for all things ceramics.

A soft opening will occur this August with several one-day workshops for kids and adults, tours of the new space, an exhibition of teacher artwork and more. Registration is online and open now. Balestreri states, “This has been a long journey; nearly 2.5 years. I am so excited to bring this space to Stafford County and have been so humbled by the support this community has shown me over the years.”

The grand opening of Corgi Clay Art Center will be this September 2023 over the Labor Day weekend. The newly designed space is located at 15 Tech Parkway in Stafford Virginia.

To learn more about Corgi Clay Art Center LLC and how they positively impact the arts and small business sector in Stafford County, visit their social media accounts or join their mailing list on the website: FB: @corgiclayartcenter IG: corgiclayartcenter Website:

The University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center (UMW SBDC) helps local businesses start and grow their business. If you are a client, please contact your consultant to schedule an appointment. If you are not already a client, you may register for free, confidential business assistance by completing a Request for Consulting Form.