What You Make Matters

How to disrupt an industry with your art.

When I was in college I worked on an organic farm. I majored in French Lit but I worked on a farm.

I knew nothing about farming but it was a job and I needed money.

On the farm I learned about the earth and all the crappy things we do to it in the name of growing food. I learned about pesticides and soil depletion and migrant workers throwing up because of the poisons sprayed to keep the food healthy.

I started buying local and organic because it makes a difference. Because buying local and organic supports the farmers who take care of the workers, the food, and the earth.

But I wasn’t a potter or a furniture maker or a clothing designer. So while I bought food that helped the earth, I bought plates and chairs and clothes made by people who often labored under terrible conditions in faraway places with few resources.

Then I interviewed Nick Moen of The Bright Angle for The Creativity Habit Podcast.

Nick is a potter. He’s also an entrepreneur. He took his love of pottery and turned it into an artists’ collective where potters make things that matter. Things like mugs, vases, spoons, and jewelry boxes.

photo credit: olivia emmer

They matter because Nick creates stuff that lasts and the people who create it with him are paid well and all of it is made with care and consciousness.

Nick’s collective designs the pottery, draws up the designs on the computer:

creates the molds:

and then makes the thing — from start to finish.

There is no one in China working in a factory for little pay churning out cheap plates. There is no one in Bangladesh sitting for hours on end boxing up mugs for people thousands of miles away. The cup you drink your morning coffee from has a story and you know the story. And the story matters.

Because, Nick says, when things are made with care and consciousness, we become more thoughtful and compassionate. Every time we eat off of a handmade plate our meal is more than a meal: it’s an experience. An experience that supports the consumer, the artist, and the planet.

Nick says,

If you consume the right things you can have really wonderful objects around you and a really wonderful lifestyle because of those objects.

He inspired me to want less but to have each thing mean more. He changed the way I look at what I own. He made my vision bigger.

Just like with farming.

Whether it’s food or the plate we eat our food off, our purchases matter, our art makes a difference, and we can change the world with what we make and what we buy.

To hear more of Nick’s story and learn about the Bright Angle check out our conversation here.

Like what you read? Give Daphne Cohn a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.