By Laura Smith/Mississippi Business Journal
BALDWYN — After two years of building their pottery business, two sisters, Sheila Hall and Anita Sandlin, took a leap of faith, quit their jobs and began working full-time on Crossroads Pottery in their hometown of Baldwyn.
Hall quit her job in the spring of 2007, and Sandlin followed suit that fall.
“I quit when I saw she wasn’t starving to death,” Sandlin said, with the humor and laughter that each of the sisters possesses.
Shelia Hall Anita Sandlin Sandlin had worked as a receptionist at a dental office for 18 years, and Hall at a tire plant for 21 years.
“We left our real, paying jobs,” Hall said.
She said they now probably work more hours than they did at their “real” jobs, but Sandlin said, “Now we can go shopping if we want to.”
The sisters who said they get along like peas and carrots started making pottery because they enjoy creating things and making something others will enjoy.
“We like coming up with new ideas, new pieces and new colors,” Sandlin said. “We can’t trade in our husbands, so we’ve got to come up with new pieces,” Hall said.
To jump-start their business, the sisters attended their first Mississippi Market in 2005 and immediately gathered retailers willing to sell the pottery.
After a nearly a year in business, in 2006 construction was completed on Crossroads Pottery’s building on Mississippi Highway 370. The pottery business is named for the building’s proximity to Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield.
By 2007, what had begun as a hobby in Hall’s garage, had grown into a thriving business with pottery featured in stores across Mississippi and the Southeast.
“We get a lot of ideas from our retailers, who will ask us if we can do a piece this way or make another kind of piece,” Sandlin said.
Crossroads Pottery colors have evolved from the initial dark green and burgundy — “Thank God we got out of that,” Hall said — to its most popular colors of sea breeze and turquoise and its newest color called “chocolate drip.”
“We got that idea from mugs we found in our mom and dad’s house when we were cleaning it out,” Sandlin said.
Popular among customers are pieces that feature a raised letter denoting an initial, but for Hall and Sandlin, the work they most enjoy are the children’s handprints and footprints custom-made for Mother’s Day and Christmas gifts.
“It is hard work, but they are so proud of it when they’re done,” Sandlin said. “And we get that immediate, one-on-one feedback when they say, ‘I love it, I love it.'”
And that’s worth it all, the sisters said.
“The bottom line is that we’re not making a killing, but we’re making a living, and we love what we do,” Sandlin said. “A little boy in here the other day said, ‘You must be rich.’ And I said, ‘No darling, I drive a van with no air conditioning, but I am happy.'”