Even though she has a degree in ceramics, Asheville, North Carolina resident Heather Knight wasn’t originally focused on starting her own line. In addition to a part time gig at a local museum, she took over a live-work space in a semi-sketchy alley began renting out studio space to her other artist friends. “Starting my business was entirely serendipitous,” Heather says. “Renting out these spaces was just meant to fund my fun art habit.” But as other artists started trickled out and the demand for Heather’s organic, craggy-on-outside, colorfully-glazed-on-the-inside vessels grew, she started taking over empty spots. By July 2007, the space was entirely hers, and she launched an online shop for Element Clay Studio. Then, in December of that year, national trade mag Interior Design took featured a few of her pieces, and her business went from zero to 100 real quick.
The demand was so great that in 2012, her hubby Mike Dale joined her full-time to pitch in on the marketing side of things, and together the duo run a storefront in their city’s up-and-coming River Arts District. The chance to meet and greet her buyers IRL is what gives Heather the energy to still throw and hand-texture each piece herself. “When I’m under the stress of major production work, customer feedback is what motivates me,” she says. “It helps so much hear that someone sees your work every day, and that it makes them happy.” —tess falotico