Natasha and I have always had the tendency to dream big. The only problem with big dreams is that they often require big money and that has usually been the thing standing in the way of our dreams becoming reality. With every little project we’ve taken on, we’ve always somehow managed to eventually make a bit of a profit. Of course making a profit is something to be thankful for, but in our case we’ve never secured enough money to be able to do anything even resembling the conventional.
The first home we ever truly owned was a VW bus, which made it possible to travel on the cheap, which was all we really wanted- to travel on the cheap. And we did, we gave back our apartment keys and lived on the road in Wes Vanderson for 6 months. taking the van from one coast to the other across Canada and winding all over the United States as well.
Our second home was a vintage Airstream that we renovated because after van life we didn't want to return to conventional renting; we wanted a taste of what building equity into a home felt like, even if it wasn't a conventional home. So we sold the van and used the profits to buy our Airstream.
It felt amazing to have this space that was all our own, especially when we eventually sold it, wrote a book about the process and made enough between the two projects to have the ability to buy a bit of land in Vermont with dreams of starting a pottery business.
Sugarhouse started in a little garage on this piece of property nestled against a sugar maple grove, we ran our business there for three years, eventuality selling so that we could move here to Nova Scotia. Natasha was missing her original home of Canada and our priorities had shifted a bit through time spent in Vermont. Against all odds and after a five month uphill battle, we qualified for a mortgage in Nova Scotia and have enjoyed the stability that conventional home ownership has provided for the first time in our lives.
I have been blown away by the growth and success of our business and how it has enriched both our lives and the lives of our workers in ways I never would have imagined.
But in the past few years I felt like our business was missing something: a real connection to the place I have deeply fallen in love with: the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. Before this summer, all of our pottery sales have always been online and I am so so grateful for our online customers, but there was something in me that wanted to meet our customers in person. I wanted to create a little community here in Nova Scotia with our business.
Once again, money became the thing stopping us dead in our tracks. We just couldn’t fit a traditional brick & mortar retail space into our budget and realized that we were going to have to come up with another outside-the-box idea. There were a few people on our street selling things and with a U-Pick blueberry farm next door, we saw that our road had a lot of traffic to support something like a roadside stand. One day Natasha suggested that we turn a classic Boler trailer into a shop. After a few months of research and a cross country road-trip we realized that a Boler was much too small for our needs and then one day Natasha saw our trailer for sale on Kijiji. It was perfect, we both knew instantly that this was our future “brick and mortar shop" and we bought it sight unseen while eating tacos at a Mexican restaurant in Winnipeg.
A few weeks later we towed our new trailer onto our lawn and made plans to turn it from the flower stand it had once been into our first shop. Our lives were very busy at the time we purchased the trailer, but we knew we had something special. So we plugged away at it, building a wraparound patio, gutting the interior entirely and methodically installing new floors, deciding to wait until the following year to get it fully ready to open, as we were running out of summer work months.
Fast forward to Spring 2023 and work on the trailer really got kicking into high gear...
With a whole lot of sweat equity and the help of Jackie of Woods(wo)man Woodworking- a local and very talented woodworker, we finally opened our Pottery Stand July 7th of this year!
We’ve been open about six weeks now and truly it’s been the most fun I’ve ever had with our business! Don’t get me wrong, I love creating pottery with my wife and our talented little team of artists, but I was dreaming of forming a community around our business. What better way than with a spot where locals and travelers alike can purchase a mug or bowl, but also engage in conversation and neighborly friendship? And this is what has been happening, people come to the Pottery Stand and they buy bowls and mugs and palettes, but they also share where they’ve just come from or what The Annapolis Valley means to them. Running the Pottery Stand has truly been a thrill for me and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude with how our community has supported the idea. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the inhabitants of The Annapolis Valley for helping to make this dream become a reality.
The Pottery Stand is located at 596 Belcher Street in beautiful Port Williams, Nova Scotia. We’re open every Friday and Saturday from 10-6. Feel free to stop on by if you’re ever in the area; I look forward to meeting you, showing off our pottery and hearing your story!