Meet the Maker: Abby Smallwood of Myrth Ceramics

Meet one half of the husband and wife duo behind this Boston-based ceramics studio. We adore all of their wares and love how versatile and timeless they are.

When did you and Eric start Myrth? What was the driving force behind starting your own company/studio?

We started Myrth in 2015 after working in community clay studios in Boston for about 6 years. We opened our own studio because we wanted more control over the clay process and the ability to experiment. The community studios are a great place to learn but do limit the bounds of your learning after a while. Still the community studios gave us a fabulous foundational education, and we took this and ran with it when we opened our studio. It should also be noted that Myrth was long a side-hustle for us both. Only this year did we both become full time at Myrth. We both worked in product design and development jobs as we build a baby Myrth during nights after work and weekends. The hustle paid off and in early 2020 we moved Myrth to a larger production space in Somerville where we both work full time.

What are your design principles?

With backgrounds in product design, Eric and I set out to design long lasting, functional wares. We favor minimal forms (some say reminds them of the Scandinavian aesthetic) and calming colors. We intend for our wares to be timeless and acquired or collected thoughtfully over time, so we follow this ethos for our design process and don't chase design or color trends, nor constantly pump out new products.

The hardest part about owning your own business?

Balancing my time between the creative and non-creative parts of the business. It's super easy to let myself get wrapped up in the creative side of the business which comes naturally to me and of course is the most enjoyable part. As a creative entrepreneur, I have to wear all the hats from creative director to accountant to janitor. Design school didn't teach us how to run a business so those non-creative (or as I'd like to think not traditionally creative but they can be!) parts of business have been learned along the way and in many aspects we are still learning and growing here. Balancing the 'chop wood, carry water' parts of our business with the creative parts is a challenge, but it's so rewarding doing the work because we own our successes holistically across our business.

What's your favorite part of your job?

As a co-owner and entrepreneur there's quite literally so much to love since my hands are on all parts of the business. If I had to pick just one thing, I'd say I love the design process most. Envisioning and then crafting a new vessel or piece of dinnerware is super exciting. I love thinking through how someone will use and interact with the product in their life. How it will serve them, and delight them. Then physically making the item with this in mind is quite satisfying.

Do you have a favorite product? Or current favorite? This varies from month to month. At the moment I'm having a bit of a love affair with my wheel again, and I'm really enjoying throwing our Meridian Vase and its taller, curvier sister which is yet to be named.

Do you have any advice for other small business owners (in creative fields)?

Make the best products you possibly can. Be relentless in searching out high quality materials, and don't cut corners in crafting your products but do invest in tools that will save you time, as time is the highest valued asset you have. Always seek to improve your process and thus your products. If you do this, you will have high quality products you are deeply passionate about and goods that your customers will love.

Images by Erin McGinn.

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