Connie Matisse is creating a pact — one between herself, her creations, and her community. The co-founder of East Fork pottery made a promise to herself that as long as she's making things, she'll strive to bring meaning and purpose into her craft, too. Now, eight years into leading her ceramics company, the artist is still finding ways to integrate profound purpose into the works. Most recently, she's focusing on the LBGTQ community.
As the creative director of the workshop, Matisse worked with her team to create a perfectly shaped (and full of character) mug. This handcrafted piece, known as the Equality Mug, is now available in celebration of the third anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. It was on June 26, 2015 when the civil rights case was passed and the fundamental right to marry was granted to all. With every mug purchased, 100% of the profits will benefit The Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE), an organization with a mission to promote full LGBTQ equality.
"It's so easy to focus on all the bad news and the progress we have yet to make," Matisse states. "But we've made huge strides in the past few years. And there are a few things worth celebrating. The Equality Mug represents an opportunity to acknowledge the steps we have taken forward, even when it seems like there's a long way to go." The creator continues to explain that the mug will be available in two hues, and is fully glazed with in-house made eggshell and Malibu blue gazes.
"The success that followed this act came from involvement from all people being as vocal as possible about a cause. These really big foundational things about our government that we assume can never change, actually can." Although Matisse and her team are creating out of a small workshop in Appalachia, North Carolina, she holds her company to high standards. "We come from a philosophy that the more public eyes you have on you as a company, and the more privilege you have to throw around, the more responsible you are for being engaged in the holistic wellness of your community. So, we definitely want to lead with example by showing that you can be an engaged, social activist in the smallest way. You don't have to choose between being an activist or a profitable business — they can go hand in hand." The ceramicist also remembers a time when it was so out of fashion for businesses to be involved in politics. However, she concludes that today, it doesn't make any sense to forgo having a voice. Businesses have to be involved in these conversations, and if they're not talking about the things affecting their community in real ways, then their place at the podium won't last long.
Matisse shares that she gave birth to her first daughter on June 26, and regardless of how her daughter identifies herself in the future, the co-founder just wants her to be a loving, caring person who embraces all walks of life. "I want her to live in a world where people are judged by the merit of their character instead of bullet points of identity." By authentically integrating these major goals — both for society and for her daughter — into her business, Connie has created a genuine dialogue between her business and her customers. And as far as we're concerned, that's a key ingredient of success.
The Equality Mug was first made in 2015, and has continued to be refined and re-released sense. Shop the latest renditions of the mug here.