This week in my design business class, we went to North Portland to talk to designer Lisa Jones about her business, Pigeon Toe. Lisa went to school for graphic design, and also studied fine arts. She learned pottery as a child and decided to try pottery again as a creative outlet. After she had been doing it for a few weeks, she realized that she had created a product line, and Pigeon Toe was born.

We went to visit their new space, which is a big warehouse where all of the wheel throwing, glazing and firing happens for all of their pottery. She gave us a tour, and we got to grill her with our questions about how to start a business.

Pigeon Toe is unique in that they do a large quantity of ceramics but still throw all of their ceramics on the wheel by hand. Because Lisa came to ceramics as a designer without years of experience in ceramics, Pigeon Toe has a unique aesthetic that is different from the weighty, bulky mugs and dark glazes that usually come with handmade pottery. Pigeon Toe is light, airy, delicate and unique.

Lisa also designed this table, which is in the consulting room of Pigeon Toe. I’m excited to see what this space will be like once they are all moved in. While we were there she encouraged us to create work that we’re passionate about, and she also said that although we may not use all of the skills we are learning in school in our jobs someday, it’s still valuable because it will help us figure out what we’re really supposed to be doing. I was inspired Lisa’s story because she did not take out a business loan or get any financing when she first started her business, she just made a line sheet and began asking retailers if they wanted to carry her products. When she could afford to, she expanded her business and bought new equipment. So inspiring!!!

–EHT 02/26/12