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  • Writer's pictureAllison Russom

Small Business Highlight: Olivia Avery Art

Olivia Avery began selling her ceramic art during the beginning of the pandemic after she was laid off from her job. She had been creating art since she was little, but didn’t get serious about it until she got older and honed in on what medium she loved the most: clay. Olivia even got her BFA in Ceramics and Drawing because she loves clay so much. She said, “There was something about making 3D pieces that added a conversational aspect to my work. The first clay class I took I was hooked. Now, seven and a half years later, my family and partner would say clay is on my mind the majority of the time.” Olivia makes mugs, bowls, plates, vases, pots, stemless wine glass, sculptures, jars, and even earrings.

I asked Olivia what the process is for creating her pieces. She said, “The short answer is pots are made in batches. I can sit down and throw fifteen mugs but that is just step one of an almost twenty step process. The long answer is the time it takes to get a really good art education, create and develop designs, and work through trial and error takes years. There are designs that take me hours to complete on one mug and others that take about ten minutes.” I also asked her about how her process has changed since she started making ceramics. She told me that, “My process has refined itself over the years but what has changed the most is my compassion and patience with myself. I am much more efficient with my time but also I am not perfect, clay is a beautiful beast, and trial and error is how we learn, how we grow.” I admire the way that Olivia views her craft and understands that the journey isn’t linear, like most things in life.

Since Olivia makes a lot of different pieces, I asked her what was her favorite one to make. She said that she really loves making mugs because of how intimate of an experience it is to use them. “Coffee or tea is an everyday practice for many and the vessel is brought directly to the mouth. Handmade mugs take a seemingly mundane ritual and turn it into a really personal, unique experience.” Olivia also personally loves mugs. She said, “Plus, if my clients are anything like me, they have way too many mugs.” Here are a few examples of her mugs, they are beyond gorgeous!

I was curious to know if Olivia had any local inspiration from other artists. She said, “I have a handful of creative friends not in my field that inspire me. They are makeup artists, sculptors, jewelry and fiber makers, as well as creative coaches and therapists. They inspire the hell out of me, and it is a total privilege to be able to play in the arena with all of the brilliant minds.” They inspire her not only in art, but in her commitment to community as well. She went on to say, “It's not always about someone's work or their ‘product’. These individuals inspire me by how they show up in the community and with their families.” Inspiration and community are extremely important to any business and Olivia proves that.

The last question that I had for Olivia was what she loves most about being a creative/small business in Memphis. She said, “Being creative in Memphis is a blast, there is a grit to the city and its natives that is unmatched anywhere else I've been. This is especially true in the creative circles I run in, we know how to hustle here and how to build each other up. You can't find that in most places.” Memphis is like no other and that’s why we love to spotlight our small businesses! If you would like to keep up with Olivia and all the art she makes, you can follow her on Instagram and you can check out her website as well: A big thank you to Olivia for talking with me!

If you are a small business in the Memphis area and would like to be featured on our blog, you can contact us at

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