Meet Ashley; the Lady of the South.

Founder, CEO & Lead Potter of Dirty South, this blog features her writings on living as a modern-day southerner,
an inside perspective of the business, and what it is really like to own & operate a small shop. Grab a glass of sweet tea & enjoy!


Overdue.

Overdue.

I do not know exactly how to start this blog, but I am going to just start where I am at and see where it takes us.

First and foremost, I am going to start with this: Black. Lives. Matter.

This is not a trend. This is the truth, the battle cry for the unheard. I am not here to convince you of this truth, I am here to talk about how we are going to do our part to make sure that our children’s generation doesn’t have to hear this truth contested.
I have gone back and forth on what to say about Black inequalities in our nation, beyond our official stance as a company. I have written a blog, rewrote that blog, deleted the blog, wrote a new blog and then rewrote the new blog. All of them ended up being self-aggrandizing stories about my life and experiences. But this movement is not about me. Each day I am educating myself more with podcast and audiobooks, and each day brings new revelations and how I can really be of true assistance right now. 

So what can two potters do to help instill change for Black equality in Kentucky?

We are not sure yet. But what we are doing is actively listening instead of being passively silent. We are using the tools of vulnerability to check our emotions when we hear other’s stories. We are learning by reading and consuming art not only about how to be anti-racist, but also books about the lives of people within the Black community.

I wanted to say nothing until I had an iron clad plan-of-action for how to participate in this movement. But I have waited over 10 days to talk to you all and I still do not know yet. We have not done enough work to know what might be truly effective – we are still learning and researching.

Where we have landed on for right now is this: amongst doing what we can to help feature Black makers, we want to help amplify the voices of the Black community in any way that our small platform allows us to.

We have moved our portrait from the I Was Here installation (an amazing project of ancestral portraits of Black slaves) from our second-floor window into our main shop window. Alongside this piece from our home, we have an additional piece that the artist has given us to display in this window (alongside her permission to use them in this way). We have printed out words from the project’s website and placed them at the front of the window so viewers can know more about this wonderful project. Please go to the website and learn about this beautiful art installation and if you are near Lexington or Winchester, go see these pieces in person.
 
I Was Here Project

We want to do our part to make sure that this movement creates real & lasting change here in our city, our county, our state, our country. To make sure that people do not move on or forget or become complacent.
 
We have made many mistakes in our lives that have been either passively racist, used White privilege without acknowledging it, or just been insensitive to the Black community in general. Although I can say confidently that I have never viciously or maliciously been racist, our silence has assisted others into thinking racist and unethical behavior is okay. Our promise to you is to always be bettering ourselves even when it is uncomfortable, to lead an anti-racist team here at Dirty South Pottery that has a strict no-tolerance policy for discrimination, to be learning how to be a better ally to minority groups, and to use the inherit privilege that being a White, straight cis couple grants us to further expand the possibilities of those who are outside of the dominant culture.
 
We will make mistakes, but we promise to always work through the discomfort of fixing them. We love you all.
 
Here are some resources that I have been using:
 My advice to anyone looking to start on this hard work right now is to read a little, and then give yourself a mental break. Decompress. Let it sink in. Identify your feelings and work through them. Then pick it back up and repeat.
 
 
Podcasts/Shows:
  • Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us Podcast – The whole show is gold, but specifically her conversations with Austin Channing Brown and Ibram X. Kendi
  • The Next Question 
Books:

+ Please consider purchasing from Wild Fig Coffee & Bookstore in Lexington.
  • I’m Still Here. Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness – Austin Channing Brown
  • Dying of Whiteness – Jonathon Metzel
  • How to be Anti Racist – Ibram X. Kendi

Vote:

Request an absentee ballot in Kentucky
Sarah from Space, Place & Southern Grace has compiled a wonderful & thorough list of resources - make sure to check it out here. 

 

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Anxiety & Encouragement

Anxiety & Encouragement

A few years ago I started to try new things to help level out the stress. I started to meditate. I tried reading for the last hour before bed. I exercised. I started eating more of the healthy, whole foods that I had chosen to ignore up until that point in my life. I planned travel. I allowed myself to fail and not dwell on it (too much). 
 
But by far the thing that I started that I have consistently done in recent years to help with anxiety is drinking hot tea.
 
That’s right. Tea.
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The Next Phase - Reopening

The Next Phase - Reopening

I think the most important part of the reopening process is to adapt the in-store shopping experience to make it safe for everyone – the shopper, the employees, the next shopper. For us and our little store, we are having trouble putting that puzzle together.
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Shopping Updates Amid COVID-19

Shopping Updates Amid COVID-19

"We have had many people reach out to see how COVID-19 has effected shopping with us and to ask important questions. I wanted to take the time to create a space for all of those questions to be answered in"
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How We Are Doing Amid the COVID 19 Pandemic

How We Are Doing Amid the COVID 19 Pandemic

"We make most of our income from our shop in Winchester, which is the easiest and most productive way for us to sell our work. A good portion of our income comes from markets and events, another good portion from wholesale and corporate gifts, and a little slice from online sales. So how has COVID 19 effected our business? It has pretty much eliminated 90% of our revenue streams."

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Why We Had to Say Goodbye to Classes in Clay

Why We Had to Say Goodbye to Classes in Clay

We purchased our building on North Main Street back in the summer of 2014. When we first became owners our intentions were clear; we would live upstairs, have a production-style classroom area downstairs, and a small store upfront. We would teach 2-4 six week classes at any given time, with a once-a-month single class for those who were just looking to see what it was all about before committing to a longer course. This was going to bring hands-on opportunities in the arts to the folks in our community, and allow them to see what it takes to make art. 
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Mug Makin' - Behind The Scenes

Mug Makin' - Behind The Scenes

It’s hard to explain the amount of work that it takes to create a single mug. Most people simply do not have a context for the process of pottery, because we usually don't have the exposure to it that we do with other art mediums. Most people can tell you the basic steps of painting; paintbrush + paint + canvas = a painting.
 
But what about ceramics?
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6 Ways to Support a Small Business

6 Ways to Support a Small Business

Community is the life-blood of small businesses. Whether that is the neighborhood outside their door, a community of like-minded people in the area, or a community formed solely online – what you do as a customer or follower of these brands makes a big difference.
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Pivoting; Having Goals with Soul

Pivoting; Having Goals with Soul

I am a creature of habit. I like the known, the familiar, the predictable. I prefer to sit in the same chair in my living room every night. I have worn my makeup in the same way for the majority of my adult life. I create routines.

I also get bored easily. I don’t like getting stuck in too many routines. The 9-5pm work life wore me down so much that I created my own business to escape it. I like new adventures. I like to rearrange rooms. I prefer to have some structure, but to work loosely within the guidelines I set for myself.
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5 Quick Tips for Buying the Perfect Handmade Pottery for You

5 Quick Tips for Buying the Perfect Handmade Pottery for You

A few years ago, when we first started on the festival circuit, I wrote a blog on tips on buying quality pottery at fairs. Now as I reread it, I can see that it was filled with advice that came from an art student who was trying to sound like an artist. I was (unknowingly) focused on defensively explaining pottery instead of writing out solid advice to the shopper.

But today, I have given myself the chance to fix it.
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8 Innovative Ways to Repurpose Your Pots

8 Innovative Ways to Repurpose Your Pots

If you have ever been to our studio/store you may have noticed that I have a thing for repurposing old and broken things. A scrap piece of wood can become a display, old wine racks into mug racks. Thanks to Pinterest and HGTV, this trend of rethinking old items has exploded in the last few years – much to my delight! I love saving items that are destined for landfills and giving them new life. Seriously, I love it.
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Beer Cheese Me, Please

Beer Cheese Me, Please

Beer Cheese. If you’re not from Kentucky, you may or may not have heard of it before. But unless you’ve traveled to the Bluegrass State I can tell you one thing; you ain’t had real beer cheese.
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