Buying a mug at a Quebec shop reminded Aysia Garbe how much she loved pottery and inspired a new business venture for the Collingwood-based business owner.
Earlier this month, the serial entrepreneur celebrated the opening of her newest endeavour, Hello Pottery Co., at 207 Hurontario Street.
By day, Hello Pottery operates as a coffee and goods shop — and the unofficial office for Mayka Marketing. In the evening, the studio comes alive with pottery lessons, artist series and workshops for people of all ages.
“It’s a skill that not a lot of younger people have anymore,” said Garbe. “I want to create that artsy type of outlet, but with the education as well.”
The Collingwood local first fell in love with pottery five years ago. Garbe and her business partner, Jeff Thomspon, created a company called Stumped, selling shelves, plants and pots at the Collingwood Downtown Farmers’ Market. Garbe was brainstorming ways to add to their product lineup, so she enrolled in a pottery class taught by Jill Usher, an experienced potter in the area.
“It’s a really cool process,” said Garbe. “I loved it.”
Usher took Garbe under her wing for two years, teaching Garbe everything there was to know about the complex process of pottery making.
Garbe founded Bay Blue Ceramics to sell her newly created pottery pieces — which mostly featured a blue hue that became her signature.
When Garbe moved to Guelph for university, she started teaching at a community pottery centre, where she learned the necessary systems to teach others how to create beautiful pieces of pottery from start to finish.
After graduating and taking some time off to travel, Garbe moved back to Collingwood and founded Mayka Marketing with Thomspon, and pottery quickly slipped to the sidelines. It wasn’t until she visited a pottery shop in Quebec this past summer that she realized how much she missed it.
“It took me an hour to decide on a mug,” Garbe laughed. “I just loved it all so much.”
In that moment, Garbe realized what her life had been missing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: a creative outlet. She signed the lease for the studio’s current space within days of returning home.
“I always said if I was ever going to do pottery again, it had to be a vibe,” Garbe said. So after enlisting her friends and family — and a lot of professional help — she converted the old Blue Mountain Flowers shop into a studio.
“The colour scheme is inspired by a Georgian Bay sunset,” smiled Garbe.
The front of the studio has been designated as a shop, featuring home decor, jewelry and brands owned and operated by other female entrepreneurs. She partnered with her friend, Robyn Patrick, to help source unique products.
“I just love esthetically pleasing goods. You get to appreciate and support other entrepreneurs. And all the brands we carry are run by women, which is awesome,” said Garbe.
Good Grief coffee, Rosewood + Silver tea and Collingwood Kombucha are also available for purchase — all of which are also run by women.
Garbe said her pottery is inspired by people, places and experiences, and she wanted to bring this inspiration into every aspect of the studio, as well.
She is currently offering six-week classes, one-off workshops and drop-in pottery experiences. Garbe plans to collaborate with other local businesses to offer unique experiences in the studio, and hopes to have open studio space available for experienced potters as well.
Her ultimate goal is to one day franchise Hello Pottery. In the meantime, she is enjoying being able to introduce this ancient skill to people of all ages.
“I am excited for everyone to start getting their pieces back,” Garbe said. “To see everyone’s face.”