California Potters Inform Their Story | Cheryl Costantini & Mikio Matsumoto | Episode 733


Cheryl Costantini & Mikio Matsumoto | Episode 733

The works of Nichibei potters blends the elegant custom of Japanese folks artwork with a recent aptitude leading to an modern assortment of handmade pottery that’s unmistakably Nichibei. Mikio Matsumoto labored as a commodities dealer in Japan, however all the time had a eager curiosity within the arts. He turned a potter after transferring to California in 1985. Cheryl Costantini has had a life-long curiosity in pottery, tradition and conventional creative values. In 1978 she traveled to Japan to check pottery. Cheryl and Mikio fashioned Nichibei in 1985. Since then, the husband and spouse group have proven their work at exhibitions in California, New York and Japan. Actually translated, Nichibei means “Japan and America.”


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Do you ever see a wrestle between the 2 of you about your two totally different approaches? Cheryl, do you each say, Hurry up and make extra pots? And Mikio are you saying, Decelerate and make it higher? 

Cheryl: So that actually is the million greenback query and I believe that for each of us, I’ll return to the phrase, Life is for studying. I’ve struggled as a result of I used to be taught to be not solely fast however actually good, actually exact. And I can do it. However I’ve to decide on to do it. And strolling within the studio within the morning saying, Okay is that this going to be a day the place I’m going to take a seat down and do 80 mugs or is that this going to be a day the place I sit down in a day and  do 30 lovely, refined jars?  And that’s every morning’s choice and I personally wrestle with that however now that I’m 63 years outdated it’s just about gotten to the purpose if not now, when? So for me, I’m doing extra of that.

Mikio can inform us about one other level and that’s what sells.

Sure, I’m actually inquisitive about that. Inform us about what sells. 

Mikio: Particularly at first after we began. My items are usually dearer than Cheryl’s as a result of I take extra time to complete every bit. However individuals come to see my piece as a result of it’s totally different and so they find yourself shopping for Cheryl’s piece as a result of it’s extra reasonably priced. If that occurs two or thrice in a row I form of get discouraged.  You must maintain doing. In case you maintain doing, anyone goes to search out you finally.

Cheryl: We expect long run. It has been a enterprise mannequin that if we get them within the door with one factor finally they are going to all come round.

Do you two see you as particular person potters which can be engaged on one enterprise?

Mikio: That could be a good query. Each. We share a studio. We’re collectively just about 24/7. I do my work. She does her work. However we share glaze, we fireplace in the identical kiln, our enterprise is one. That half makes us one.

Cheryl: I’d agree. I believe that we’re extra one and that’s additionally taking after the Japanese custom. You already know in Japan they’ve a reputation of a pottery. There is likely to be one trainer, one sensei there or the eldest, however it’s one pottery and every thing that comes out of that pottery is that pottery’s stamp. And that’s the reason we named it Nichibei Potters. And the potters are plural, not solely are there two of us however the choice is open for apprentices. We’ve got one now and now we have had many through the years.

What does Nichibei imply?

Mikio: Japan. America. One character from Japan, one character from America put collectively.

Cheryl: The identical means NorCal means Northern California.

How do you discover your prospects?

Cheryl: Began on the flea market and did craft festivals and anyone noticed us at a craft honest and requested, Why aren’t you doing the American Craft Council exhibits?  And I stated, The what? After which she took us by the hand and advised us methods to get into the ACC exhibits by that. That opened up the entire promote market. We all the time believed you will need to get out and present our face and to be actual and join with individuals. So that is yr quantity 36 of this enterprise. Full time job the entire time. When Covid occurred and our exhibits obtained cancelled we started to make use of an Etsy store {that a} scholar had arrange for us years in the past that we had not used a lot. And the cool factor, Paul you’re going to chortle at this…Up till this time I had all the time considered us as going out into the world and saying, Oh please individuals. Would you want to purchase our pots. What Covid taught me and Esty taught me was that it’s really actually a two means avenue as a result of now we have a very huge buyer base right here in California and an enormous electronic mail listing, we developed an enormous snail mail listing from the start. We actually tried to domesticate prospects. And I by no means as soon as thought that they actually needed to additionally purchase from us. It sounds form of foolish however we opened up that Etsy store and despatched out an electronic mail and it was like, Wow, all this entire factor exploded. And we felt so honored and humbled and it utterly took off. We had 900 gross sales this previous yr.

Mikio, 900 gross sales. The place you shocked by that?

Sure, I used to be. However the factor is now we have a lot of outdated prospects which can be loyal to us and so they wish to assist us. We misplaced an entire alternative and so they have been nice for us and supported us. It was wonderful.

Which form of gross sales do you want higher? On-line or in particular person?

Mikio: I like in particular person. You already know, I like on-line however in particular person is extra particular to me. Folks can really feel the power. I can see their face that’s the reason I like in particular person.

Cheryl: Yeah. Effectively stated. I’d actually agree with that. It offers them an opportunity to carry the pots. It offers us a possibility to construct relationships and that’s simply so vital. It’s so vital as a result of individuals aren’t simply shopping for the work however they’re additionally shopping for just a little piece of our coronary heart and we provide that to them freely. So the factor we’re going to have the ability to reduce out is the wholesale and the web gross sales will substitute them which is admittedly nice.


The Unknown Craftsman by Soetsu Yanagi



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