This has been in the works for a year now, and we're so excited to finally be sharing this with our community.
As of January 1st, 2023, owners Sarah Steininger Leroux and Steve Leroux have sold the business to three of their employees: Jude Mortensen, Liz Leong, and Sam Schauer.
Please read the rest of this newsletter for a statement from Sarah, and join us in congratulating our new small business owners!
A statement from Sarah, founder of Saltstone Ceramics
Building Saltstone Ceramics has been an incredible journey for me!
It all started back in 2015. That spring I resigned from my social work job of 12 years and took a wild leap to start my own pottery business. I converted a room in my home and started teaching small classes (just 4 people at a time!), offering studio rental (only space for one extra person!) and hustling to make and sell my work at craft fairs.
After three years of scraping by, Steve (my partner in life and, soon, business) encouraged me to rent a commercial space and expand. We found a space in Wallingford with big beautiful windows and a lot of promise. We signed a lease, renovated the space ourselves (with the help of incredible friends and family!), and opened our doors Labor Day weekend of 2018.
We quickly grew to fill a space that had once felt luxuriously large. At any given time we were teaching up to seven class sessions, with upwards of 300 students each year. And we had hundreds more students in one-time classes and workshops, and a dozen fantastic full-time members.
At the same time, our gallery was also growing! What started as an afterthought became an essential part of the business with the help of popular annual shows like Mug Madness and Queer and Dear.
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, it tested the resilience and flexibility of our business in ways I could never have imagined. It also pushed me to seriously consider my long-term plans – both for my life and for the business and community in which I had invested so much. Saltstone Ceramics emerged from lockdown stronger, more resilient, and ready for a change.
It has always been our dream to turn this business over to our staff. After some deep reflection and research through the first half of 2022, we approached our staff with an offer to sell Saltstone Ceramics to them.
To our delight, they accepted our offer and so as of January 1st, 2023: Liz Leong, Jude Mortensen, and Sam Schauer are the new owners of Saltstone Ceramics!
Selling our business to Liz, Jude, and Sam is truly the perfect end to this journey for Steve and I. We will get to see all our hard work and community investment carry forward with fresh energy and perspective. Steve and I will be cheering from the sidelines as the three of them make Saltstone Ceramics their own and continue to offer exemplary community ceramics education, studio space, and a vibrant gallery. They are an incredible team of smart, committed, creative and hard-working people, with a deep and diverse set of skills, and I am extremely confident that they are up for this new challenge.
If you have any questions for them about their plans for Saltstone Ceramics, you can always get in touch at email@example.com or just pop into the studio and say hi.
An announcement like this would be incomplete without acknowledging our huge debt of gratitude to Coco Spadoni. Coco has been an essential part of our team since starting as a studio assistant in that little converted home studio back in 2017. They started teaching classes when we moved into the Wallingford studio, and over time learned to do almost everything else, eventually managing all of the programing and the technical aspects of the studio. If you enjoy learning and creating at Saltstone Ceramics, it is because Coco has led the way. While owning a ceramic studio is not the path that Coco has chosen for themself, we cannot thank them enough for helping us get to this point. Coco is an incredible educator and manager who will continue to support the new owners.
Steve and I will continue to be involved with Saltstone Ceramics for as long as Liz, Jude, and Sam need us. We love this community and we want to make sure this transition is a successful one. You’ll still find our work for sale in the gallery, and we’ll be popping in occasionally to help out. Plus, I’m teaching the hand-building class this winter. Don’t be a stranger!
I hope you will all join Steve and I in welcoming and celebrating Liz, Jude, and Sam as they step into this new role.
With love and gratitude,
Sarah Steininger Leroux
More information will be coming soon
We'll be sharing more information in the coming weeks about this change, but in the meantime you can rest assured knowing that the new owner's goal is to maintain and grow the community that Sarah and Steve built.