Bringing So Blue to Life
The summer of 1981 is the first time I remember experiencing the spark that grew into my great love of pottery and ceramic artwork. I distinctly remember the heat of that summer sun bearing down on us as we strolled through the streets, doing some leisurely window shopping and occasionally stepping into stores here and there. In one of those stores we happened to duck into, I saw a beautiful ceramic vase and knew I had to have it. I pointed it out to my mom and practically begged her to buy it for me. It took a good bit of persuading, but she finally said yes, and I had my first ever ceramics piece! I treasure it still to this day.
In 1992, two friends from Karpenisi invited me to visit Paros with them. It was my first time getting to visit this beautiful Cycladic island. We stayed in the brand new High Mill Hotel. The owner of the hotel drove us to the Yria Ceramics workshop where not only were we able to meet the owners and shop from an array of stunning handmade ceramics, but we were also able to experience views of neighboring Naxos and the sea from the top of a mountain. I still have this cobalt blue ceramic dove from the workshop as a treasured part of my personal collection.
My love of ceramics took a new turn in 1999. After seeing an ad in the local paper about an Italian and Hungarian pottery warehouse sale in Northern Virginia, I definitely knew this was something I needed to go to, considering how much I loved pottery. On my way in to the warehouse I noticed women coming out carrying cardboard boxes full of discounted ceramics. Not only did I feel inspired at the idea of finding some new serving pieces, but my mind was also spinning as I wandered around thinking “If only I could find pieces like this from Greece!” Unfortunately, besides my knowledge of the pieces I had picked up over the years I didn’t really know of workshops in Greece that produced these colorful bowls, platters and even cake stands I found off Route 28 near Washington Dulles Airport on that spring day.
I made it my mission that day to find a line of pottery from Greece that I could import from my beloved Greece in order to showcase the talent from there.
Fast forward to July 1999. My husband and I were visiting the island of Skiathos and on one of our afternoon strolls we walked into a gift shop and there it was. A beautiful display of earthenware ceramics in an array of bold blue, yellow, orange and green right in front of me. I knew this was it!
After asking the shop owner a few questions about the pottery, I eventually got the contact information of the producer. And so my idea turned into a plan.
Things were postponed for a few years since right after that discovery I joyfully learned I was expecting my second child born in 2000.
After a visit to the workshop by my parents who used to spend several months at a time in Greece, the plan to bring my first shipment over was in motion.
In December of 2002 I waited impatiently as a truck full of ceramics arrived at my house! I was like a kid on Christmas morning and couldn’t wait to open the boxes.
That shipment was the first of many from Greece as I became a vendor at several Greek festivals up and down the East Coast. Not only did I participate at the festivals, but I also exhibited at several home and garden shows in the DC area and even hosted events in my own house.
In 2004 my dream came true, and I was able to visit the workshop in Patra for the first time. It was magical as my late father, my husband and I met with the owner over coffee and had several hours to explore. We discovered pottery we didn’t even know existed, all handmade and hand painted by several talented artists.
That trip in 2004 was followed by trips in 2007 and 2010, those times accompanied by my children who were thrilled to be able to hand-select pieces to bring home for our shows.
For nearly two decades, I have had the pleasure of bringing handcrafted pieces of ceramic art from my beloved Greece back home to the USA. On our trips to Greece over the years, my children and husband have been able to experience visiting other ceramic workshops all across Greece in Athens and on several islands, meeting the artists, picking out new pieces to bring back for my business, and sometimes, even painting in the studios! I treasure these memories, since they really make this venture that much more special. I have been a vendor at around 15 different Greek festivals as well as various shows and events all along the east coast. Due to the unfortunate circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about, both of my children have been home from college. My daughter, Maria, has been interning for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese on the Y²AM (Youth and Young Adult Ministry) social media team for the past three years, and has quite a bit of experience working in graphic design. With her help, we brought So Blue Greek Ceramics & Gifts online like it never has been before. Now, we are up and running on Shopify! It still feels surreal. Slowly but surely, we are growing on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook as well. It truly is a joy to do this together, and despite the nature of the circumstances for her being home, I really am happy that she and I have brought So Blue’s site to life.
Of course, our collection features other products alongside ceramic pieces. We wanted to expand our shop to offer products designed and made by Greek Americans here in the USA. These include goats milk soaps and lotions, aprons, runners, and stickers (just to name a few). To capture this sentiment, our slogan became: “Made In...Inspired By...Always Loved...Greece.” Whether a product was made there or inspired by it, Greece and my love for the homeland of my parents remain at the heart of it all.
Yasou Elizabeth, I just read your story, I loved it, so amazing and inspiring! I love how it all started and how God has led you through the pandemic with your daughter’s help to have a wonderful presence online. I hope you will be able to be at our Newport News Greek Festival too. It would be awesome for people to meet you and see your beautiful selections in person! It would be a blessing for us. In Christ, Rebecca