Farmhouse Pottery has quickly become a household name as of late. Their clean and durable designs stole our hearts, as well as those of the editors of Yankee Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Trouve, and Spoonful…to name a few. Co-founders James and Zoe Zilian also have local significance to the Jackson House Inn. We were one of the first people to visit their basement workshop, and we are proud to share an array of their products with guests at the inn today. Silo mugs, walnut boards, petite silo bowls, and barrel jugs are among the many Farmhouse Pottery pieces we use every morning here at the Jackson House Inn.
James and Zoe met at Colby Sawyer College in New London, NH. After parting ways to individually pursue their dreams, they reunited and married in Rhode Island. They found themselves working for various designers in Boston shortly thereafter. However, the growing Zilian family packed their bags for a new life in Woodstock VT upon James’ job offer in design at Simon Pearce. James threw the very first windrow berry bowl upon Zoe’s request in the basement of their home in Woodstock. From there, as they say, it was history. Their collection grew and the Zilians began selling their beautiful pottery at local markets, including Woodstock’s Market on the Green! The Farmhouse Pottery name got its start at a private party hosted in the home of Zoe’s cousin, just outside Boston. Zoe snagged the website domain name soon after.
As business is bustling, the agrarian landscape of Vermont continues to inspire everything Farmhouse Pottery stands for. “From where we source the items we sell to how we source our employees,” James and Zoe draw from Vermont and its culture as much as possible. “Pillars of our mission include supporting local farmers, craftsmen, and makers.” This power couple finds incredible inspiration by watching other craftsmen and Vermont business owners also appreciate their work. If there’s anything we’ve learned in documenting small businesses throughout Vermont, it is the incredible amount of support they lend to one another. A sense of pride emanates throughout our state to not only encourage, but also celebrate artisanal efforts. In fact, the couple points to our inn when saying, “Rick and Kathy were one of the first people to come visit us in the basement and bring in our pieces, which helped tremendously with growth.”
Since their basement beginnings, Farmhouse Pottery’s success has skyrocketed. Still, James and Zoe remain humble. “As we focus on our evolution,” they say, “we look back at how far we’ve come…how much things have changed and stayed the same as we grow.” All of their hand-thrown pieces remain oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe. In addition, their farm-to-table aesthetic has maintained a very simple and versatile look. These steadfast qualities have made Farmhouse Pottery a symbol of quality and elegance, wrapped up in a product line specifically made for daily use. The Zilians, however, are well aware of the fact that there is a learning curve for growing businesses. “The biggest learning point is probably how to continue to be an artisan company with a ‘small’ mentality as we steadily get larger and more recognized.” James and Zoe strive to prioritize all of their dreams for Farmhouse Pottery to ensure that they follow in the path that is right for them. As such, they find themselves deciding which areas of the business to grow first. The Zilians continue to follow sage old advice for new business owners…follow your gut!
This advice has served the Zilians and their business well. The result is more than evident as you enter their workshop (once a productive Bible bindery!) and find the vision that James and Zoe have created for Farmhouse Pottery. Upon walking into the store (a stone’s throw away from the Jackson House Inn), you immediately think this is what I want my home to look like. Warm and natural hues are accompanied by dried florals, woodsy aromas, and handcrafted goods. The combination of natural clay and milky white glaze on the majority of their pieces adds to an overall modern take on rustic. What we love most about these pieces are the subtle throw lines and solid feel. It’s incredible to realize each piece has been touched about 25 times before being put on the shelves. Behind the counter, you’ll see the Farmhouse Pottery potters in their workshop, busily working on the very pieces you see in-store. Our good friends Mike, Laura (new mama to a beautiful baby boy!), and Judi may be among the faces you see behind the wheels. American-made, organic clay and glaze are the key ingredients they use. Wander in to see all stages of the pottery making process, including throwing, drying, kiln firing, and even stamping. In fact, you can take part in your very own pottery throwing class when you sign up to participate in a Wheel Workshop! Believe us – it’s a blast.
Farmhouse Pottery also hosts a slew of events throughout the year. Their Wassail Open House will be held December 10th from 10am-1pm, celebrating Wassail Weekend in Woodstock. Farmhouse Pottery will also be collaborating with King Arthur Flour for an event on February 12th. Be on the lookout for new products consistently coming out of their kiln. In addition to pottery, James and Zoe plan to extend their fashion line and wood collections in the coming year.
Still have a few people left on your gift list? We highly suggest taking a gander in Farmhouse Pottery’s workshop, or even trying your hand behind the wheel! Who knows – you may be the next potter extraordinaire.