Monday, March 3

Interview - Part one: Tracy & John Porter

Several years ago I fell in love with a book and the adorable couple that graced to cover. Inspired Gatherings by Tracy Porter was not only a delicious book both in words and pictures, but it challenged my view of entertaining. Up until that point I subscribed to the rule of perfection. When entertaining I would pull out all of my newly acquired china, sterling and crystal. Oh, and only 8 people could come for dinner, as I was still waiting to get my other 4 place-settings. Then Tracy’s book came along and gave me permission to mix it up. Yes, I know this is not a radical new concept! But this was a new way of thinking 10 years ago when Martha Stewart was still a reining force in my world.

I was super thrilled when I got an email from the gorgeous and gracious Tracy Porter a few weeks ago, and I could not wait to share this great interview with all of you. I like to think that I am smart enough to know when I simply cannot write something better than the original. Tracy shared with me her and John’s story of their early days and their thoughts on running a business. After reading it several times I decided not to rewrite her words, but post the original.



WHAT ARE THE ODDS?? He goes to school and gets a degree in art, is color blind, and now handles all the legal schmegal and accounting for our company... and seems okay being immersed in "estrogen hell" as he calls it every day (Thank God!!). I on the other hand, went to Europe for a few years after high school and was humbled... I was there to model, but good lord...every time I got to one of those cattle calls with the 9-foot tall smashing amazons...well, you know how that part goes! Happy to be!! And now we create and sell pretty things that make a lot of people smile!

Luckily I have been making things since I was a kid, so when John and I met in Chicago and realized entrepreneurship was to be our calling (and once we realized that being the Bloody Mary king and queen of the beverage world wasn't going to be our start up) things really started clicking!!!

For some lovely reason, when we began our company, we felt (and still do) that anything was possible. We could do and be anything we wanted to be (a huge thank you to our parents). Never having owned a business, we truly started things at an oddly stressful yet blissful time in our lives...just married, moved to Wisconsin, zero cash-ola to our names (well, less than that, really...credit card debt and all!)...and entirely jobless. But by golly, we were determined! And really, what was the fall back position?!


We began in a chicken coop (yes, really) with no heat, so my paints were kept under electric blankets, and John would get up at the crack of dawn and start the wood-burning stove. (I know all of this sounds terribly romantic, but at the time, all I was thinking was, "Please God, don't let Neiman Marcus come and visit us here!"). Everything we did was by trial and error. We said YES to nearly every request just to stay in business. Thank goodness people loved what we did and immediately started to collect our wares. In fact, to this day as I travel about, people will tell me that they have followed us since the beginning and still collect the things we create. (Thank you so very much!!!)

We now have a really cool studio in downtown Ripon, Wisconsin. A lovely college town that has taken us in as only family would. We have an awesome team of incredibly passionate people working for us, none of whom have a background in anything that we do. But as I always say, it's really your attitude that matters the most. I always tell people that I'm not really sure how anyone in this world gets a big ego. I find business and life to be deliciously humbling. I think maybe that's why we are able to keep our minds open...always walking on the edge, if you will...trying to be as fearless as we can be while staying rooted in reality.

Part two tomorrow...
Interview by Ronda Carman

13 comments:

pve design said...

Good roots remind us that all we really need is close to us. Simply lovely down-to-earth post in a sometimes too sophisticated society ensconced in egos.

I long for her chicken coop studio!

ALL THE BEST said...

Patricia I so agree with you!!

annechovie said...

What a refreshing, creative and honest story! I look forward to Part 2! Thank you for posting this, Ronda.

ALL THE BEST said...

Isn't Anne...very refreshing!!

Lana said...

Keep up the great interviews Ronda! You always have the BEST!

Cindy said...

She sounds like someone you would love to have for dinner, just so you could listen to her stories!
What a wonderful couple.

LondonCalling said...

Looking forward to part 2!

Kwana said...

This was wonderful. I'm looking forward to part 2. I totally agree with her about ego. Big egos are dangerous to all.

Pink Wallpaper said...

what an ispiring read...especially being a small business owner- i adore hearing how others "made it".

suzannemarques said...

so fun getting a peek inside her life & beginnings.. and i love that dress she's rocking. she seems like she's be a great guest at a cocktail or dinner party !!

Brilliant Asylum said...

How could you not love a book with a chapter called "An Opera of Chaos"? I have a feeling this one is right up my alley. And I always love a good husband and wife creative team. Thanks for the introduction.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

A cliff-hanger! Can't wait...

That's great that they hire people with diverse backgrounds. Creative fuel!

{this is glamorous} said...

A completely and fantastically inspiring story--I love that they took a chance and it all turned out so beautifully.