Oak Leaf Pottery

The BIG Crafty

ShowsAllison GrossComment

Yesterday was well Sunday, yes, but it was also the day of The Big Crafty event in downtown Asheville, NC! Dan, Levi, and I hit the road around 6:30 am to travel up the mountain. It was a really super early morning for all of us, but luckily we had packed the car the night before and prepped everything else ahead of time like our lunch, waters, and the diaper bag. I absolutely love the drive to Asheville. It makes me think of Fall and hot coffee... sweaters and the crisp smell of leaves. It was especially pretty yesterday morning because of all of the mist hanging in the tops of the trees as we climbed. I actually got lost in it, but then I realized "Oh, crud. Will it rain today??". I forgot about the show entirely and then it dawned on me that rain would not be a welcome thing during the show. We did luck out which was fantastic and the rain skipped us. Whew.

https://www.instagram.com/oakleafpottery/

https://www.instagram.com/oakleafpottery/

After getting into Asheville, we made our usual pit stop at Vortex Doughnuts on Banks, Avenue. I really wanted to pull out on if my little slab plates for a quick photo shoot, plus Levi needed a little break from all of the riding. The doughnuts were nothing short of amazing (of course!) and Dan split a mocha with me which we drank during booth set up.

So set up was GREAT! We pulled into Pack Square after the doughnut pit stop and were some of the first to arrive. It takes me ages to set everything up the way that I like it so unfortunately for Dan and Levi, we have to arrive several hours before show time. SO... we pull in, unload, I feed Levi among all of my crap-ola, and Dan moves the car several blocks away. When we find our spot, we were at first nervous about the location, but it turned out to be fantastic! It was in the main area of Pack Square, but raised up a couple of steps in a grassy little park area with trees and.... shade! It was perfect for Levi who would not have been happy in the hot sun. I had asked the coordinators about being in a shady spot when we first got accepted and they were so very accommodating! It was great. The set up went a little bit quicker than anticipated and my little dining table set up worked out super well. I was so happy. It really made all of the difference! People could visualize how to put together my pieces to make sets. Dan was so great with all of the customers and Levi kept his cool all day. We had several friends and family members visit us during the show, also! What an amazing day!

A HUGE thank you to Horse and Hero and any other wonderful creatives who make this show happen! Thanks to our family and friends who came out to support us- we love you so much, and thank you to those amazing individuals who help make my dream a reality by purchasing my work and supporting our family!

Well, the kiln is too hot... so I guess I will make a blog post.

RamblingsAllison GrossComment

It is far too hot to work in the studio today.  The kiln is cooling down, but unfortunately it is still too hot for my liking. So here is a much needed and very procrastinated blog post. Some things that are happening here- wholesale orders, working on the online shop, trying to slow down a bit and appreciate life a little, The Big Crafty, and time with our little family. It is a lot to fit into a day. A week. A month even. I blink and an entire month has passed by. My little baby is almost a year old. I am behind on custom orders. I don't spend enough quality time with my husband. I desperately need to work on our unruly yard. I wish that I could work on some of these ideas rolling around in my head for new pots. Yikes.

Should I even be sitting here on our couch wasting work time?

If this sounds too incredibly familiar... hello. I would love to meet you! (And ask if you have figured out this thing called life and small business yet.) Some days I really think that I am alone in my thoughts, but I do realize that there are others out there somewhere! Today is just one of those days where I stop and think "Oh man. Am I doing this right?".

This post is mostly just a thoughts post. Sometimes I really need it, though it doesn't happen often.

Thanks for listening. And, as always, thank you for your unwavering support of Oak Leaf Pottery and our little family. Now, back to life.

See y'all this weekend at The Big Crafty (hopefully with a fun new display! I need to go sand a table now...).

A Slew of Updates from the Oak Leaf Studio

Allison GrossComment

Where to begin?!

So much has happened this year that it's hard to keep track of all of our progress and exciting updates here inside the Oak Leaf Studio. Between new wholesale clients, crazy awesome shows, strong partnerships, new friends and the completion of our home studio, it's hard to wrap my brain around where this small business is headed. And pottery aside, our 9-month-old son, Levi, has kept us on our toes every day and we continue to see how much of a blessing he is to our family. Here's what we've been up to in case you've been wondering.

  • Began wholesaling with It's the Little Things. This is a unique home decor shop and interior design business in West Columbia, S.C. The store carries a little bit of everything from Oak Leaf Pottery including vases, bowls, plates and mugs. I met the owner, Karen Cunningham, at last year's Crafty Feast event in downtown Columbia.

 

  • Moved into new home studio. The new space has allowed me to crank up my work flow and get on a consistent production schedule. That said, I am no longer at the West Main Artists Co-op. Being able to work from home has worked wonders for my hectic "potter mama" lifestyle.

 

  • Traveled to Maryland for open house show. We drove up to southern Maryland for my parents to host an open house show with my pottery. Family members and close friends came to show their support and it was so beneficial! I am so thankful for everyone's support and interest in my work.

 

  • Began making mugs for Drayton Mills. This was a dream partnership for me, being nearly obsessed with all things history and preservation. A century-old mill in Spartanburg has been transformed into luxury loft apartments and a marketplace with coffee shops, restaurants, bars and office spaces. The developers have asked me to create custom Drayton Mills mugs for their residents and visitors. There's so much character and detail to this space, it has been such a honor to have just a tiny part in its story.

 

  • Began order for TR Makers Co. I'm currently working on a wholesale order involving a number of different pieces -- my spoon rests, beer mugs, mugs, bowls, berry bowls, plates and bud vases in addition to custom mugs exclusively for their shop on Main Street in downtown Travelers Rest. The owner, who is also a maker, has been so wonderful to work with and really understands the creative process.

 

  • Working on pieces for S.C. State Museum. After the store manager ran into my booth at two separate shows last year, we were finally able to chat about an order for their museum shop in Columbia, S.C.. I am so thankful for this order and excited to create these pieces and have them there for visitors. I'll be providing them with mugs, berry bowls, plates and custom mugs with their logo on them. 

 

  • Mugs for Saluda Outfitters. I am so grateful for Saluda Outfitters for ordering custom mugs for their new outdoor supply store in Saluda, N.C. I'm making a newly-designed camping-style mug for them, both with their logo and also a carved mountain/river scene to fit their store's theme.

 

  • Commissioned to create Wildflour Bakery's 2017 mugs. Late last year, a simple drop of a business card led to the bakery owner reaching out to me and selecting me to create the shop's latest custom mug. This unique, family-owned bakery in downtown Saluda, N.C. produces a new handmade mug every year to offer to visitors and loyal customers. I was honored to make their mugs for 2017.

 

  • Supplying work to Urban Digs. Urban Digs off Wade Hampton Boulevard in Greenville, S.C. has been such a pleasure to work with. I've been supplying the store with some of my pieces and will continue to do so this year. If you haven't been to this shop, they have a little bit of everything and you can't go in without finding the perfect gift for someone.
  • Traveling to Franklin, Tenn. and Atlanta, Ga. for Made South. After doing Made South's first South Carolina event last year, we couldn't wait to catch back up with this group for two of their 2017 events. Our first will be in Franklin, Tenn. on June 30. They have an amazing representation and are great folks to work with. We are excited to be among the group of makers this year.

 

  • Featured in Ivy&Branch blog post. I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a blog that has a mission of spotlighting small businesses in the maker community. Maris, the author of the blog, was super nice and welcoming and I'm very grateful to have been featured.

 

  • Joining Modern Forestry for Forestry Fridays. Our favorite soy candle-making friends, John and Sarah Collins, have started a makers market series this year with monthly events to bring the community together. We are delighted to join them as one of their vendors for this new venture of theirs at their Modern Forestry Studio in Greenville County.

 

  • Began new lines of work. Lately, I've put a lot of effort into making ceramic leaf necklaces, spoon rests and a number of carved pieces including vases cups and plates. Feel free to browse my website, Facebook page and Instagram page for many more updates along the way.

A Baby Named Levi and Some Other Updates...

RamblingsAllison Gross2 Comments

As most of you already know, I had a little boy name Levi on August 9.  This would explain my great hiatus from throwing, making, creating, posting, selling.... etc. Hopefully I will be back in the studio very soon! I will have limited time there, so I will probably not be working on many custom orders, but mostly wholesale and show work.

 

Now... on to a Baby Named Levi...

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This is by far one of the hardest things that I have ever done.  I am speaking for both my husband and I when I say that. When you read this, many of you will think, " Well duh, didn't she know that going into it?". I did know that it would not be easy, but when people tell you that you will never be prepared, they are so very right. I will spare you the gory details of his birth, but let me just say that it was very scary and I feel so blessed that Levi and I were both ok afterward. I did end up getting induced and had him without the aid of any pain meds (not so sure that I can do that again... but hey, I did it once...). Once he was born we realized that he was not getting any nourishment from me and had to supplement with formula for a couple of days.  We went to lactation specialists and ultimately ended up working with an occupational therapist.  We now see our OT every week to work on Levi's mouth, his muscles, and his ability to just eat.  He has made huge strides and now will even latch on! Honestly, we had given up on that idea, but it may be a possibility with the help of these wonderful people that have been placed in our lives. We are still working up to breastfeeding and are mainly feeding him using this handy "special needs bottle" made by Medela. Levi is gaining weight and seems to be staying awake longer which tells us that he is in fact making improvements! Yay! Other than the eating issue, Levi is a very healthy, happy, adorable little dude. If you follow me on Instagram, I apologize for the abundance of baby photos and lack of pots!

 

Next, Some Other Updates...

Farm Fresh Fair 2016 is right around the corner and we will be there among some other amazing makers! The Farm at Rabon Creek is such a neat place to go, especially for this event! Who doesn't like a farm with donkeys and chickens as well as handmade goods all around?? Am I right? (Secretly, I really want to live on this farm!) But anyway, Farm Fresh Fair is September 17 10am-5pm and September 18 11am-4pm. If you would like any extra info on the event, you can find it here. Come by and say "hello" at our booth under the covered stall area! This will be Levi's first big appearance as the Oak Leaf Pottery baby and he would love to meet everyone!

I am also excited to say that we will be participating in Crafty Feast again this year! Crafty Feast will be on December 11 from 12- 6pm at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, SC. This is our second year participating and last year we had an absolute blast! I am super thrilled to be a part of this event!! There are so many wonderful makers who participate, as well as amazing coordinators. This is not an event that you should miss! Find the information for the event here.

 

Thank you to everyone who reads my incredibly random posts and who puts up with my lack of punctuation skills. (eh-hem... thank you, Dan, for pointing that out on several occasions...) We really appreciate all of your love and support!!

All of the Things...

RamblingsAllison GrossComment

Well this whole posting once a month plan has not panned out for me unfortunately... but I am here now- two thumbs up!

Wholesales:

First I wanted to give a big shout out to my last two wholesale customers- Congress Street Coffee LLC in York, South Carolina and Embellish Asheville in Asheville, North Carolina! It was so wonderful to work with both of these local small business owners... especially right before my due date.  They were so kind and considerate, as well as patient!

Some of the Squat mugs that can be found online for sale through Congress Street Coffee's website. Photography by Katie Taylor Photography (website) Photo taken from Congress Street Coffee LLC

Some of the Squat mugs that can be found online for sale through Congress Street Coffee's website.

Photography by Katie Taylor Photography (website)

Photo taken from Congress Street Coffee LLC

 

Congress Street Coffee LLC is a new coffee business in historic York, South Carolina.  Though they do not yet have a physical location for their shop, they have big plans ahead of them!  The owner, Jonathan, has written on their "About page" on Facebook:

"Congress Street Coffee LLC isn't a place (yet!) but we do have a passion for coffee and sharing the pleasure of artisan-roasted coffee with our friends."

Dan and I met Jonathan and his wife at York Summerfest last summer.  The event itself wasn't very successful -- it was mostly geared toward food, music and rides --but out of it came a great partnership with Congress Street Coffee LLC!  God works in funny ways sometimes.  This was definitely one of those times. A year later, after the not-so-successful Summerfest event, I was contacted by Jonathan who had held onto my business card... for an entire year! He reminded me of the coffee shop and asked if I would be willing to chat about his ideas for some mugs- how crazy, right!?  We were able to order a fantastic stamp from Tin Oiseau - a local stamp maker and small business in Greenville, South Carolina, and then I started making!  His website has since gone live and you can order not only the mugs, but also 12 oz bags of their whole bean coffees.  Check them out here to place an order, and give them a follow on Instagram and Facebook!

Embellish Asheville is located in the historic Sinclair Building off of Broadway St., right in the middle of bustling downtown Asheville, North Carolina. This indie, unique shop features local makers and products- jewelry, pottery, bags, and other fun little finds! We were so lucky to have met the owner, Barb, at the Made South event in Taylors, South Carolina back in May. She was so friendly and fun to work with! We loved that her focus is locally made goods and her little shop just looked amazing the first time we drove by to scope it out. :) Her window display is so well curated and her entire store breathes "support local". From the warm, inviting displays to the friendly shop manager, she has it going on! If you are a local or a visitor, you need to check them out at 59 Broadway St., or you can find them online here! You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram!

Without all of the amazing people that we have met through shows and just by word of mouth, I wouldn't be able to continue with pottery.  I am truly thankful for all of those connections and feel very blessed to work with all of you!!

 

Studio Update:

My hard- working husband working on our path out to the shed... which is no longer.

My hard- working husband working on our path out to the shed... which is no longer.

One 1926 shed down.... a new one to go!

One 1926 shed down.... a new one to go!

So the other big update is the home studio.  This has been a much slower process than originally intended, but we are getting there! Our house was built in 1926 by a local jeweler, Rufus D. Lewis. The shed our back (in my estimate) was built around the same time- Dan actually found a piece of wood with Rufus's name and "Spartanburg, S.C." written on it while he and his parents were tearing down shed walls. When we first moved into the house I had grand plans to rework the shed and make it my home studio. Unfortunately, 90 year-old wooden sheds in ant infested South Carolina do not hold up all that well when there isn't a poured foundation... So with much sadness and reluctance, we decided to tear it down and start new. Dan's parents were so kind to come over many times to tear down and haul away our decrepit shed. We were so thankful for their help... what a huge job! Now, my parents will be helping with the pad/ foundation of the newer, much larger studio.  We do have a building picked out and our electrician all lined up, but it will still be some time before actually being able to throw my first pot at home. This really is incredibly important for Oak Leaf Pottery to continue growing and functioning as a small business.  With a little one at home, it will be harder to travel to the co-op to work at all hours. As we work towards our goal of having a home studio, Dan and I will come up with a plan of some kind for a work schedule for me. It will work out! I have much more confidence after speaking with other potters and artisans/ makers who have gone through the same thing.

So...with that being said, I will be taking a short break during the month of August.  I will start back up in September with Farm Fresh Fair in Fountain Inn, South Carolina.  The arrival of our son will take over the majority of my time, so I will not be making for a little bit. We are at 38 weeks today, so any day now our little bug will be here! Thank you to everyone who has made this journey an amazing one! :)

 

"Praise the Lord.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;

His love endures forever."

Psalm 106:1

 

Taking photos that stand out!

Daniel GrossComment

We were just notified that applications are now out for this winter's Crafty Feast event in Columbia, SC. This was one of our absolute favorites last year and we're excited to re-apply again for this year's show set for Dec. 11 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Fingers crossed!

From the Crafty Feast website: 

"Crafty Feast is a 100% handmade, juried, independent craft fair in Columbia, South Carolina. Our goal is to bring unique and funky crafts from around the region in a 1-day festival format. The first festival was held on May 20th, 2009."

That being said, we just came across a new blog post Crafty Feast made that offers some really great tips for product photography. It's all about lighting, contrast, angles, avoiding filters, close-ups. The basics are the types of things many people forget sometimes when trying so hard to make their wares stand out. 

We were honored to see that their blog post pointed toward Oak Leaf Pottery as an example of using natural light to your advantage during photo shoots. Check out their post! They also included a few great examples from some other amazing makers. Check out Elizabeth B. Ceramics and Once Again Sam.

-djg

Well so much for a monthly post...

RamblingsAllison GrossComment

  Here I am again on a not so nice day full oh freezing rain and cold weather (once spring and summer roll around, how will I ever post anything!?). I have decided not to venture into the studio after all, so I thought "oh! I need to make a blog post for this month!". Well.... after looking at my previous post, I realized that I didn't make one for last month either... oh man.  New Year's resolution: post once a month.  I do apologize.

  Anyway, so here I am, mint tea in hand, fake fire a-blazin', cozy with my pups, and smelling my neighbor's fire place.  I honestly love these kind of days.  They remind me of my childhood in Maryland.  From what I can remember, we used to get a ton of snow and ice in the winters and I always looked forward to being home with my family.  We had a wood stove as a kid and that's how we heated our house.  It was pretty cool especially when everyone lost power and we could still cook and get warm!  Our neighbors came over a few times to get all cozy.  Now I just like to pretend that the smell of wood burning is coming from our fire place and not the neighbors hehe. 

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  Even though I am enjoying this little cozy room, I will need to venture out at some point with the pups (for some reason they enjoy the cold stuff out there).  I also have a ton of planning to do for Oak Leaf- things that have been put off for a bit now.  Keep updated with us because we are planning some big things!  I may be able to actually go to my studio on days like this in the near future (hint: it will be much closer to our house), I am planning on revamping the Etsy shop- thank you for being so patient!, and I will be prepping for this year's festival season.  Today is the day to get some of these things done, I hope!

  Oh! Some other exciting news for Oak Leaf and our family... we are expecting our first little studio helper!! Due August 2016.  So very excited about this- and also a bit nervous on how the summer will play out, but not to worry!  We've got this. :) This will change some ways that we will be taking and processing orders, but that will be announced later on. Yay!

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  Anywho.... enjoy your day and stay snuggled up!!!  Look out for a post next month (I can do this)!

 

Some exciting things have been brewing...

New WorkAllison Gross2 Comments

So first of all, I should apologize for my lack of presence on the blog and other social media.  I have been a bit less active online and much more active in the studio.  

One of my most exciting orders that I have been working on is for Hub City Tap House in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  First of all, let me just say that the guys who run this tap house are amazing.  The day I decided to walk in with my prototype beer mug I was SO incredibly nervous.  (I'm sure I had broken out in my red nervous rash all over my neck...) The Tap House had just opened recently and my husband and I loved the place so much I thought, "How cool would it be if these guys would use or buy my beer mugs?!" So I made a prototype, brought it in (all crazy nervous), and they loved it! They were so welcoming and excited.  I couldn't have asked for a nicer group to work with.  So a month later I had delivered their first round of mugs and they sold out like crazy! I am now working on their second order :) This has been such an amazing opportunity and blessing.  I couldn't be more thankful! 

I am also now working with The Urban Planter in Spartanburg, South Carolina which is another wonderful locally-owned shop!  I love to support local and really this notion didn't hit me until Dan and I moved to South Carolina.  Paul Desmond, his wife, and mother own and run this great little place together.  They make beautiful terrariums, fairy gardens, and their focus is live plants, so if you want a beautiful, lush, green arrangement that will last and last- they are the people to talk to!  This has been so much fun and I have been expanding my work to include air plant holders, hanging succulent pots, and fairy houses!

The other fun shop that I have been able to get some work into is Urban Digs in Greenville, South Carolina.  I feel in love with this little hip shop the moment I walked in.  Amy, the owner, has some great finds there- from ceramics to plants, jewelry to retro house wares- this is one neat place. Not to mention, she has the sweetest shop dog, Mattie! 

Green Springs in downtown Seneca, South Carolina is another fun shop that has been selling my pots. I recently supplied the owner with another batch for her many holiday shoppers. The store is quirky and vibrant and features nearly 20 potters and seven glass artists.

I feel so incredibly blessed to have met these people.  I am so thankful for their support as well as all of the people who I have met at all of the crazy festivals I have been participating in!  Thank you to my Oak Leafers - you know who you are! ;)

Ok... So one last bit here.  As a "Thank you" and a "Merry Christmas from Oak Leaf" I am giving away a set of three of my slab trees.  You may have seen this posted on Instagram and possibly Facebook already, but for those who have not- please LIKE us on Facebook to be entered to win.  That's all you have to do.  No strings attached.  No lie. Just Like us :) I will be announcing this TOMORROW, December 1! Hurry and enter! I am already working on my list of names to pull from!





Rainy days are good days to blog.

RamblingsAllison GrossComment

Well, hello there.  I keep trying to figure out what the very best post would be to have as my first blog post.  However, in brainstorming I end up just pushing the "first amazing blog post" farther and farther away.... and now here we are months after starting the website.  SO... I have decided now is a great time.  It is rainy out.  My festival in Columbia, SC has been postponed until October 25.  Apparently we are in a state of emergency- for what I'm not sure.  I have done all I can at the studio for right now. 

I am sitting in a coffee shop, drinking a latte and listening to someone singing on their radio in Italian?  It's a language that I can not understand anyway.  I like that I can sit here and watch rain droplets drip down onto the tables outside and I can hear the cars whiz by on the rain-soaked streets.  Two older gentlemen sit next to me talking business I think... trying not to eavesdrop as it sounds a little bit boring.

Rambling, I know.  I am pretty good at that.  Just ask my husband.  I don't know how I arrive at the thoughts that I end up having, but they are kind of fun to write down. 

Ok... back to Oak Leaf Pottery.  So it has been quite the journey thus far.  This morning I was sitting on our front porch with our dogs before I went into the studio and thought about how far Dan and I have come.  But really, Oak Leaf Pottery has also really come very far in a very short amount of time.  It honestly is a little bit scary thinking about these things.  Dan and I have both made the decision for me to start my small business, but we are still figuring things out and probably will be for-ev-er (imagine The Sandlot kid here saying that). 

I went very quickly from teaching for almost 3 years to moving states, then working in an amazing little bakery part-time and working in the studio part-time to working as a potter full-time.  Trying to at least.  Enter you.  The Reader.  The Oak Leaf Supporter and Fan.  Y'all are awesome.  I can't really put it any other way.  Without those people that I have met at festivals, pop-ups, and online, I would not be trying to be a potter full-time right now.  So, thank you.

As of late, I have been to a different festival (or two) every single weekend, I have had my very first wholesale order (yay!), so many custom orders, and now I am in talks with some shops about carrying my work (fingers crossed and praying on that one).  It has been a whirlwind and I hope to stay in it!  Not only have you, the Reader/ Fan/ Supporter, been here through it all, my husband has, too.  I don't think that I would have ever a.) had the confidence to pursue pottery as a career and b.) been able to organize myself.  (Again... random thought patterns and rambling... imagine my brain trying to run a business without help.) He is my rock and although I do give him a hard time about how to handle the mugs or bins or how to wrap items or hey- don't touch that or how to hang the sign..... he is incredible.  I don't know that he knows how much I truly appreciate everything that he does behind the scenes.  But!  I suppose he will once he reads this post. ha.  

Ok. Enough rainy day rambles.  I have to get to a little birthday shindig.  I hope that everyone affected by the "state of emergency" stays safe and those who aren't experiencing all of this rain.... well enjoy the beginning of Fall!  It is bound to be a wonderful one! 

Thank you.  Enjoy a nice mug of coffee today. :)

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