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Meet Alexandria Aleshire of HIPPYTOES Pottery in Southeast LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexandria Aleshire.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Beginning with roots in Los Angeles, my background has greatly shaped my path as and artist, and lover of the Earth. My father was a welder by trade, but I knew him as a natural artist…he could sketch the motion of a figure beautifully and do so by memory. My mother was a seamstress who in her youth worked on the Gene Kelly show sewing elaborate costumes for the dancers. Both my parents were also avid gardeners who enjoyed growing edible plants in our small backyard. They grew all kinds of fruits, herbs, and vegetables and did so organically before growing organically was a thing. My chores as a child included taking out the kitchen scraps, digging a hole in the garden, and burying it. Little did I know I was composting. My parents are frugal folks that let nothing go to waste. Growing up around these values, combined with a passion for creating something out of nothing, has placed me on the road that I am on today.

I majored in Child Development hoping to become a teacher and I minored in Art studies so I could take all the art classes I could; oil/watercolor painting, illustration, graphic design, etc. etc.. Unlike my father with his natural ability, I learned to draw and paint through the classes I attended, working very hard at it. Always with a sketchbook in hand, drawing and painting everything I saw, I would finish a sketchbook and start another one. But you see, I never felt it came naturally to me. My classmates were far superior in their talents and I learned to accept that (I secretly thought to myself, “There is no way you are going to make a living as an artist.”). Ceramics was one of the last classes I took. When I finally began working with the clay, it felt as if I had found my home. This skill came naturally to me. I worked with ease and more importantly, calmness. The moisture, the earthy smell, and tactile experience evoked memories of my childhood digging, making and growing in the soil. I loved these classes and took all the ones offered.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t view life as a smooth road. I’m not sure we would want it to be. I can say that every bump along the way has formed who I am today, so I don’t regret any of the rough patches in mine. After school, I began working full time, met my husband, married and began to work on a family. Slowly, art became a thing of the past…I even stopped sketching. Other more important family activities filled my days.

There was a turning point in my life during a family trip to Hawaii. My husband rented a car and began driving us into the middle of the island, away from the popular beach area. I was a bit confused and ask, where are we going? He said, “I want to go to this art store I heard about”. My heart just stopped. Then my nine years old said, “Art store? Why are we going there?” My husband replied, “I want to get your mom a paint set, so she can draw and paint all our adventures”. I still remember my son’s expression and response to this day. His look was of bewilderment and confusion. “Mom doesn’t draw!” It dawned on me that during the nine years of my son’s life, I had never showed him this side of me. I had let busy things fill my days and I had forgotten something in me that I loved.

Needless to say, this day changed my life path. I began painting and drawing again, setting up my easel in the living room and making art a daily part of my life. During family trips, I would sketch and draw nature scenes that I am especially fond of; Turquoise waves crashing onto pale sand, glistening streams slowly sliding over mossy layered rocks, blue skies against the earth.

Getting back into pottery was still on my mind. But the logistics of making pottery is complicated. It requires a lot of equipment I did not have, nor had access to. My husband, determined to get me back into pottery, gifted me with a couple of pottery class at a nearby studio. When my fingers first sank into the clay, I was transported back. I can only compare this to a food memory; when you touch, smell and taste a familiar flavor that evokes layers upon layers of nostalgia.

Looking back, it is silly to see that bringing art back into my life was my greatest hurdle. A year later, I had acquired a used kiln, a potter’s wheel, and I carved out a studio space at my home.

Please tell us about HIPPYTOES Pottery.
HIPPYTOES Pottery is my company. I make functional handmade vessels in small batches from my home studio. But pottery is not my full-time job. I don’t think it will ever be. My Early Childhood Education background and the skills my parents instilled in me, has made teaching children about where our food comes from a huge part of my life. I became a UC Davis Master Gardener for Los Angeles County and an Edible Landscape Designer which lead to my work with Enrich LA, a nonprofit organization that builds edible gardens in Los Angeles County schools. I have the privilege of teaching Los Angeles students true life skills; growing your own food, being frugal with our resources, making better food choices, and caring for the Earth we share. I’ve been in training for this all my life. And adding the humble craft of making pottery from an abundant medium such as clay, makes sense. You see, mud and soil are my daily tools.

HIPPYTOES Pottery is not solely a pottery company. It is a section of a lifestyle my husband and I have slowly built over time. Simply put, we want to help people see that by making the most of every resource, they too can create solutions for living a more sustainable life. HIPPYTOES Pottery studio is located on a small homestead. A tiny house on a 1/4 acre of once tumble weeds turned into a nature habitat and sustainable landscape. We grow most of the vegetables we eat, we have chickens for eggs and keep bees. Food scraps go to the chickens first and their waste goes into the compost system that will then feed the garden. A small pond with fish provides fresh nutrient-filled water for birds and bees. Fruit trees and native plants fill the yard instead of grass. Nothing goes to waste. Every plant is recycled back to the same earth it came from. Every excess fruit, vegetable or meat is processed, canned and stored. My pottery is a reflection of this lifestyle. I am careful to conserve water, energy and to recycle all my scraps of clay. This is what sets us apart from others. But more importantly, I am working towards bringing awareness that what we do can be implemented in everyday life for any family living in a city.

I am very proud of all our accomplishments so far, but I feel some of my proudest moments are when a child’s eyes light up when they see a tiny seedling emerging from the soil or when a customer holds a piece I’ve created and needs it in their forever home. Equally as much, when a conversation with a pottery student turns into an ah-ha moment, and then endless possibilities are now reachable. These are some of my proudest moments and knowing there will be many more to come.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I honestly believe that this road and all its lessons brought me to the place I am today. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Pricing:

  • Tall Mugs $42
  • Shapes Planters $56
  • Wine Tumblers $35
  • Jupiter Planters $45

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Greg Aleshire

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