Dec 18, 2020

Winnipeg

Good Wheel Ceramics

Story by Sarah Ivey Photo by Gabrielle Touchette

After moving to Winnipeg in March to live with his Canadian partner, Jody Lewis had to think creatively to find a job in a new city at the start of a pandemic. Good Wheel Ceramics was a spur of the moment business idea.

Owner Jody turned to pottery as both a hobby and means of income after he moved to Canada. Originally from Alabama, he took up pottery for stress relief while completing his master’s degree in public health in Atlanta.

“Pottery is something I love, and I use it as my getaway from everything stressful. So, I bought a wheel and decided I should start selling pottery. Over time, I started to structure it as a business,” he says.

Thanks to an abundance of local support, Jody is unsure if he’ll return to the public health field later down the road.

“It’s nice to have public health there and have the option if I want, but right now I really love ceramics. I could see it being a full-time gig for right now,” says Jody.

Despite only starting the business in May 2020, Jody is already selling out of stock within minutes on his website. Jody updates the site with functional, yet decorative pottery every one to two months. He also makes custom orders and sells wholesale to local gift box maker, Chesco Box. His popular creations are all made at his in-home studio and include mugs, dishware, vases, planters, and candle holders.

Jody says his main goal is to create pottery people love.

“I want people to be proud to display it in their home,” he says.

While potters typically sell their work at local art shows, galleries, and farmers’ markets, Jody has created his entire business online due to COVID-19 restrictions. Starting a business and brand through social media means Jody is both a maker and a marketer, however, he isn’t the only person behind Good Wheel Ceramics. His partner Robyn works behind the scenes, too. 

Jody says Robyn was his main motivator for starting Good Wheel Ceramics. She encouraged him to buy his pottery wheel. For a social media-led business, marketing is important, so Robyn acts as branding manager to gain customers and keep up their online presence.

“She has a great eye for home décor and making things look magical, so I’m really lucky to have her help on that side of things,” says Jody.

Unsure of how Manitobans shop, and having just started the business, Jody didn’t know what to expect this holiday season. 

“I should have seen it coming, but it’s my first year and my first holiday season, so I didn’t realize what the demand would be like on handmade items. I think I was a little behind the curve. If I could go back and make more, I definitely would have made a lot more,” he says.

Despite being online, Jody says he still has a relationship with his customers. He hopes for in-person markets like Third + Bird next year so he can connect with customers in-person.

“The online interaction is really nice for me because a lot of people feel cooped up, and so do I.”

If you’re looking to support a local potter this winter, Jody always appreciates new customers and their positive feedback. He also enjoys working together to create custom orders specific to his customers’ needs.

Keep your eyes peeled for Jody’s work popping up in local shops in 2021. He hopes to partner with coffee shops, floral shops, and gift shops in the future. You can check out his creations at goodwheelceramics.com.

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