Nov 12, 2012
Artisan Spotlight: Jean & Kate

Haven’s Kitchen commits to supporting our local economy is as many ways as we can. While we do tend to focus on food and farmers, we also want to highlight small business owners in NYC who are creating beautiful things with thoughtful techniques and traditional methods. In addition to the joy of supporting local businesses in our shop, we love that we can build personal relationships with our purveyors. We create stronger ties to our purveyors by connecting their products to their story.

Julia, our Director of Operations, met Jean & Kate through friends years ago, and recently overheard one of them discussing their budding granola production  and supper club. When she found out that the ladies were making pottery, she knew that they would be a perfect fit for our shop. 

Read our interview below to learn more about how their supper club led them to throwing pottery and much more.

HK: As a three part business (like us!), how did the supper club morph into pottery and granola production?
J & K: It was a pretty unexpected merger of a few different experiences.  Kate had traveled to Argentina in the fall of 2010 and had an amazing experience at the home of a chef turned supper club host.  She came back to Brooklyn and was really excited to see what the Brooklyn supper club scene was all about.  We attended a few suppers and loved the intimacy and the community feel, and thought that we could attempt something similar but with a different approach.  We met as volunteers at God’s Love We Deliver, a Manhattan based non-profit dedicated to feeding those who can’t feed themselves, and it wasimportant to us to model our business on similar principles.  In this spirit, all proceeds from our suppers are donated to various food based non-profits throughout the city.  From the very initial talks about working into a project like this, I wanted the table to be a reflection of my love for design and my love for all things handcrafted.  I was taking classes at a pottery studio at the time, so the marriage of a supper club and of handmade ceramics and table linens seemed pretty perfect. The granola has always been our take home treat at the end of our suppers and with enough positive feedback from our guests we knew there was a larger market out there for it.

HK: Jean, did you have a background in pottery before beginning this process?
J & K: A few years ago, I took a couple of weeks off from work and traveled down to Costa Rica to stay on an organic vegetable farm about an hour inland from the Pacific coast.  While there I met a potter whose work and approach to his art was completely inspiring. I brought as many of his pieces as I could back with me to Brooklyn and now consider them some of my most prized possessions.  Knowing there was a pottery studio a block from my home in Brooklyn, I signed myself up for classes.  Working with clay proved to be incredibly intuitive, and I haven’t strayed far from the studio since.  I set out to replace all of my kitchen wares with my handmade work, and once I had done that, we were in the process of launching Jean & Kate. It seemed like the perfect home for any future work coming out of the kiln.

HK: How do you source materials for your pottery?
J & K: There aren’t too many raw materials to source for my current work. I work with one clay body for the most part; it’s a brown stoneware that I source from a supplier in New Jersey.  The glaze that I use most often is mixed on site at the studio. I am excited to start experimenting with other clay bodies such as porcelain and terra cotta and seeing how my work evolves with different clay color and texture.

HK: How long does each piece take, start to finish?
J &K: Working with clay can be a slow, fickle process. A single bowl can take up to 2 weeks to throw, dry and fire.  And once you put the piece in the kiln, there are no guaranteesthat it will come out the way you expect it to.  That is something I have learned along the way- to embrace pottery as a handmade craft that is delightfully unpredictable!

HK: Where do you hope your small business takes you?
J & K: We are both pretty excited to continue expanding our small batch granola business.  We have been selling both the granola and the pottery at The Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene and at Smorgasburg in Dumbo since the beginning of the summer.  Offering a product to our community that is made around the corner from where we are selling it is something that we are proud of.  We hope tocontinue to host the supper club as a means of supporting the community around us and as our way of learning and experimenting with food as long as we can.  We feel so lucky to have hit the milestones we have met so far, and would love one day to have our very own brick and mortar shop.