Farmhouse Pottery
Style — Home Decor

Farmhouse Pottery

United States

Mood of Living  /  Nov 19, 2018

Zoe and James Zilian's timeless pieces reflect the values of authenticity and sustainable living.

Zoe and James Zilian, founders of Farmhouse Pottery, have created the life they envisioned. Founded in 2008, Farmhouse Pottery is a unique company with a storefront and workshop based in the picturesque countryside of Vermont that creates timeless pottery pieces to last a lifetime. The natural beauty and rich history of the state inspires a team of local craftsmen and artisans to create vases, mugs, dog bowls, and decorative pieces, which all reflect the values of authenticity and sustainable living. With one storefront and a custom blend of stoneware clay, Zoe and James embody intimacy and individuality. In fact, each object is touched about 25 times by local potters before it’s completed. In addition to the pottery pieces, Farmhouse Pottery also sells homeware, apparel, and even holds personal pottery classes in their workshop so they can share their creative passions with all. In the middle of rural Vermont, Zoe and James have succeeded in perfectly combining a family life with their work life. Farmhouse Pottery brings love and passion into every aspect of their work creating the perfect heartfelt piece for any home.

Q&A with James and Zoe Zilion

Zoe & James Zilion

Zoe & James Zilion Co-founders of Farmhouse Pottery

Mood of Living: Where is your hometown?

James Zilian: Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Zoe Zilian: Camden, Maine.

MoL: How did the two of you meet?

JZ: Colby Sawyer College.

  • A tablescape featuring Farmhouse Pottery dishware.

    A tablescape featuring Farmhouse Pottery dishware.

MoL: Before your current occupation, what did you do?

JZ: Product development and design.

JZ: Marketing, production and interior design.

MoL: What first inspired you to get into pottery?

JZ: I’d always been drawn to craft and natural materials. Pottery was a logical medium for us to build a brand.

JZ: Mr. Burrows’ art class in the sixth grade. I fell in love.

MoL: How does Vermont, farm life, and your local surroundings inspire your work and impact what you do?

JZ: The rural, agrarian Vermont landscape has been such an inspiration to Zoe and me and our brand. We are inspired by almost everything in our area – the beautiful snow covered winters, the historic local farmsteads and of course the beautiful summers.

MoL: What distinguishes your pottery pieces from other companies’ work?

JZ: We built our brand around crafting pieces that are 100 percent hand made. We have no interest in making something that is just another ‘thing’ to have in your home that fills up space but adds no value. That is where the process and authenticity come in. We take our time with every step in the process of making our pottery because our goal is to make something that our customers will be proud to live with and use everyday.

MoL: Your company focuses on using local products and working with local artisans. Why do you think it’s so important to highlight local resources and people?

JZ: As James mentioned, the rural landscape has been such an inspiration for us. We focus on simplicity and quiet, minimal design. Incorporating local resources is a great extension of my minimal approach.

MoL: How do you hope your company and your products will impact the lives of others?

JZ: We set out to create heirloom pieces that will bring back the tradition of passing down through generations. We hope that sharing our craft will inspire others to think more carefully on the pieces they fill their homes with and the hands that made them.

MoL: Do your artisans have a background in pottery, or do you teach local people the craft?

JZ: Our artisans all have a background in pottery thus far. We have some that have trained at various art schools, some learned as apprentices, it just depends.
MoL: Do you incorporate social and environmental responsibility into your business and day to day lives?

JZ: Absolutely. We developed our clay recipe that is 100 percent American-mined. Our glaze is also lead and cadmium free. We hand sew and dye our linens and our wood collection is all made from sustainable New-England hardwoods.
MoL: Would you ever want to expand to a larger operation with multiple storefront locations, or do you enjoy the feel of a smaller store?

ZZ: We love the feel of keeping it small and intimate as it speaks to the special nature of our work. However, we are planning on opening at least one other storefront as it really gives our customers the chance to interact with our brand in a one-of-a-kind way.
A table spread featuring Farmhouse Pottery dishware.
A table spread featuring Farmhouse Pottery dishware.
MoL: How do you find balance between your work and family life? Are these two worlds difficult to balance? Do you ever feel a strong pull to one area or the other?

ZZ: Farmhouse Pottery is a family-run company. Our girls are with us at work almost everyday. We make a point to spend time together separate from work as well and be sure to prioritize both the business and our family. We’re really happy that our children have the opportunity to grow up around a craft-focused entrepreneurial environment.
MoL: You emphasize heirloom quality work that can be passed down through generations, do you hope to pass down the Farmhouse Pottery business to your children? Do your kids enjoy pottery?

JZ: The girls definitely enjoy spending time with the pottery. They make pinch pots that we sell in the store and run lemonade stands in the summer. We’d love it if they are interested in being a part of the business when they get older, but we also want to give them space to find their own passions and careers.
MoL: Aside from pottery, do you enjoy any other creative outlets?

JZ: Our collection has evolved into a lifestyle, so we include wood, hand-poured candles, linens and dried florals. We sort of see everything as a creative outlet from product development to marketing.
MoL: As a predominately home and kitchenware company, do you cook much as a family? If so, would you mind sharing some of your favorite recipes?

ZZ: We have dinner together at home every chance we get. It’s one of the best ways we bond as a family. We have an Italian background so there’s lots of pastas and great salads. You can find a great collection of our favorite recipes on our website.
MoL: Where do you go to relax and find peace?

ZZ: We go to Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont, to relax and get re-inspired.
MoL: What does success mean to you? What goals do you have for Farmhouse Pottery and where do you see the company going in the future?

JZ: Success, in our opinion, is doing what makes you happy and having that also bring joy to those around you. We want to keep investing in artists of all mediums and expanding our collection.
MoL: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the pottery business?

JZ: Follow your dreams. We never imagined Farmhouse Pottery would scale to where it is today. It’s probably not ever going to be easy, but every bit that we’ve grown has been due to our hard work and dedication to the craft.
FIND Farmhouse Pottery ONLINE
Photography courtesy of Farmhouse Pottery

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