Well Made

82 Kilning It with Alex Matisse, co-founder of East Fork

Episode Summary

Alex Matisse of East Fork talks about walking the line between small scale craft and large scale commercialism.

Episode Notes

Scaling a craft brand isn’t easy, not only on manufacturing, but company values and ethos. Alex Matisse's company East Fork is producing traditional pottery that’s distinctly modern while forging a big, ambitious path forward.

East Fork makes sought-after stoneware using clays from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Their minimalist mug is so popular that it sells out in minutes. East Fork plates and bowls come in seasonal glazes that mirror the energy of a family kitchen and the blanket warmth of a cup of cocoa. Co-founders Alex Matisse, his wife Connie Matisse, and friend John Vigeland are craftspeople at their core, but now they’re bringing their art to the masses by turning their simple handmade forms into scalable production methods.

On this episode, Alex shares how East Fork is growing big but staying small. Alex talks about the turning point when they bought a gas kiln from the Netherlands (7:30). He shares the insistent design process of The Mug (9:29). He gets real about the blunt impact he felt as the CEO when East Fork grew to 50 employees (10:39). He talks about keeping rituals like their bi-weekly team lunches (16:30). Alex discusses his high aspirations to grow beyond Heath and into the realm of Homer and Laughlin (18:22). He talks about why they started hiring photography and marketing roles in-house (30:02). Alex talks about standing on his own in spite of the expectations and legacy of his family name (32:25).

Also mentioned on the show:

Link and images can be found on the Lumi Blog.