Meet The Granite, a Portland Oregon-based ceramics brand created when an interior designer and a ceramicist combined their creative superpowers. We’re spotlighting them at this weekend’s San Francisco Renegade Craft Fair, so be sure to stop by and see them in the Design Milk Spotlight. I talked to both co-founder Meg Drinkwater about how she and co-founder Megan Perry got started, what the scene is like in Portland and whether their designs are secret messages yet to be decoded…
Who are you? Tell me more about you.
Founded in 2014, The Granite is made up of Megan Perry and me, Meg Drinkwater. Megan’s background is in Interior Design and my background is in Metalsmithing and Ceramics. We both design and make all of our products with the help of 1, sometimes 2 employees. Before we were a brand each of us were makers and designers, both in professional capacities and in our own right. A shared interest in visual and material culture and complementary aesthetic sensibilities made us natural collaborators.
How did you get started making ceramics?
Megan and I had been collaborating on a wood and paper lighting project as a hobby and creating a light in porcelain was something we discussed frequently. I had taken classes in slip casting and mold making in college and had wanted to work more with that process for years. Our first line of porcelain products was created when we finally got in the studio and started experimenting and re-learning/learning about the process and materials.
How does your background working with metal help you in making ceramics?
I think there is definitely and overlap with metalsmithing and slip casting. Particularly because I when I was learning to slip cast I was also doing a fair amount of casting metal and the basic concepts of casting translate well between the fields. With any craft I believe there are fundamentals that don’t necessarily change when your materials change. Committing the time, doing research, staying constantly curious about your materials and process and formalizing your practice all seem to be crucial to craftsmanship.
What do you like about living and working in Portland? What’s the design scene like?
It is a city full of creatives who are working in all mediums: music, food, design, craft, art, literature…you name it. It is exciting and inspiring to be surrounded by so many curious individuals who are invested in breaking the mold. Here, we are also surrounded by many other women-owned businesses. We love being a part of this community of driven, intelligent and strong-willed women.
As a small business owner, what are some of the challenges that you face?
Small business owners have to do a variety of unrelated, challenging tasks and, in order to be successful, do them all relatively well. Time management and giving every task the focus it needs is a definite challenge.
How has modern technology (if at all) helped your business – either for manufacturing and/or marketing?
The innovations of the last 5-10 years in social media, user friendly website platforms and affordable, easy to use credit card processing have been all been instrumental in starting and running a small business.
What do the marks on your pieces mean? Are you sending secret messages?
No secret messages, but great idea!
What’s one piece of advice or thing you wished you had known when starting your own business?
You will never have enough time.
Are there any pieces that have special meaning to you?
I love the Spotted Epoca (pictured above). Megan free hand paints every single dot and it has remained a personal favorite.
Any plans to make other products? If so, what else do you have in the pipeline?
Always, always there are plans to make other objects. We have a few new products coming down the line soon but our lips are sealed right now. Stay tuned!
Photos by Mikola Accuardi.