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East Fork Pottery is a dream in progress

Carolina Moment: East Fork Pottery
East Fork Pottery, whose main factory is in Asheville, prides itself on making a full range of dinnerware and other functional objects. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

East Fork Pottery prides itself on making a full range of dinnerware and other functional objects.

The business started right here in the mountains, and the main factory is now in Asheville.

It's a true potters dream, and it's something CEO Alex Matisse and his team brought to life.

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"It’s been amazing," Matisse said "That’s one of the most fantastic parts of doing this is watching this whole kind of community grow."

It didn't happen overnight. It's something that's evolved throughout the years.

"I think, sometimes, we don’t give ourselves enough credit. We’re like, how did this happen. Like, where did this even come from," said Connie Matisse, co-founder and Alex's wife.

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In 2009, Alex set up shop on a former tobacco farm in Madison County, with a wood kiln, a few friends and a small group of followers.

"Right about that same time, Connie and him met at a farmers market," CFO John Vigeland said.

Shortly after, Alex, Connie and John quickly became friends.

From there on out, the three spent most of their time out on the farm.

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"Originally, it was just one studio, and then eventually two kind of small, dirt-floor shops and big wood-burning kiln. So, I mean, that was one of the very first things that drew me to this whole pursuit was just this really romantic lifestyle of like living out of the woods and cutting wood," Vigeland said.

Slowly but surely the business began growing.

"It’s just been kind of building on itself very organically for the last several years," Connie Matisse said.

In 2014, the three hired their first employee.

Then, as the demand for the product grew, they added more.

And, in 2016, they received a phone call from a customer that would change everything.

"He just said, 'If you all are ever interested in doing something bigger, I really believe in what you all are doing, and I’d be interested in investing and supporting that growth," Vigeland said.

Two years later, Alex Matisse sold the farm. In the process, he opened the East Fork factory.

"It was incredibly hard to go from making things on a potters wheel by hand to doing what we’re doing now. But it’s sort of one step after the next," Alex Matisse said.

"To some extent, this is what we were dreaming about and like wanted to do something that looked a lot like this, and it’s just really, it’s trippy to go back to just imagining what this could look like and it’s here," Vigeland said.

Over the years, the scenery's changed, but the mission of the three founders has remained the same.

"When I walk around, I don’t feel completely like this was out of the blue. I’ve always had a sort of drive and desire to keep progressing. I just didn’t know it would look like this," Alex Matisse said.

In addition to the factory, East Fork also had two other stores. One is in Asheville and the other is Atlanta.

They have plans to expand. In total, the company now employs about 70 people.

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