I made a little visit to Vermont this weekend to meet our makers at Farmhouse Pottery. Tiffany and I had both met their founder, Zoe, and some of their other staff at NY Now in the past, but going to their workshop in Woodstock allowed me to see how they present their products in their own environment. I also got to hear about new products coming out — watch for those! — and learn about their process.
More importantly, I also got to meet Laura, their chief potter, and Mike, another studio potter. Mike was actively throwing beehive crocks while I was there! He showed me how the gentle grooves in the sides come from the potter's fingers while it's on the wheel. He also pointed out that some pieces will have grooves on the inside and outside, just depending on the potter and the way he or she held their hands while throwing the piece. I love meeting our makers, but even more I love learning how they do what they do!
My other visits of the weekend were supposed to just be for fun, but even they turned out to yield good store ideas. I visited Quechee Gorge Village, where — I'm not gonna lie — I was really just aiming to sample a bunch of Cabot cheese and pick up maple syrup. I did that, as well as some Sidehill Farm jam, and it is delicious! But it turns out the village shops include an antique mall, where I picked up one or two items for the store. Always Be Merchandising!
And I rounded out my trip with a visit to King Arthur Flour. I only intended to go there for lunch in their cafe — and, ok, to buy some bread and pastries. I did that: pot roast stew with a Cabot rosemary cheddar biscuit. Yum! And I got a couple loaves of bread and some cookies for my staff and so forth. However, even the King Arthur trip turned out to be useful for the store. I learned that they are a founding member of B Corporation, an organization that certifies companies who make social responsibility and environmental concerns part of their overall corporate mission. I was thrilled to learn that about King Arthur, since I'm already using their flour at home, but more than that I was excited for what that could mean for Quinstance. Since we care very much about our makers, our employees and our community and about making a positive impact on all of those stakeholders, I'm now going to explore the possibility of making Quinstance a B corporation as well.
All in all, a very successful trip to Vermont! I've been eating King Arthur bread with Sidehill Farm jam on it for breakfast (and beyond) for three days now. But I swear, it's all work-related...