Here's Lookin' at You, 2022

Another year has started. Actually, we are already almost halfway through the first month already! We here at Dirty South are still trying to recover from the holiday season, while also steering the ship towards our plans for the new year. While we have a lot of changes that have been put in motion that I want to tell you about, I want to take just a minute to celebrate a few wins from last year.

In 2021 we:

  • sold nearly 1,600 handmade mugs (not including those made for our wholesale partners!)
  • donated over $5,000 to non-profits in our state that support the arts, those experiencing homelessness, and victims of the Western KY Tornados
  • used over 9,600 pounds of clay & 530 pounds of dry mix glaze
  • released 10 new limited-edition items, and rereleased 8 holiday items from previous years
  • returned to some of our favorite markets – Woodland Art Fair & Michler’s Christmas Market
  • processed nearly 600 shipped orders, packaged by our shipping department (aka Laura and with occasional assistance from me)
  • supported 12 other artists & American-made businesses by selling their products at our shop.
  • had the best financial year of business since we started
Despite the pandemic, it was a great year for us in many ways and we have each & every one of you to thank for that! There really aren’t enough words to express our gratitude towards you in our DSP Community – you have helped us keep our business alive during two of the most challenging years we could have imagined.
From our core, thank you.
Through the success of 2021, we realized some things that need to be shored up in our business. When we started DSP 8 years ago, it was out of a little building in the backyard; things have changed and grown each year since. We try to do our best to always be attentive to what is working and what is not working, then make changes.
This past year, and in particular the last 3 months of 2021, made it clear to us that we have taken on more than what two sets of hands can make. Our plan to grow our production team a few years ago has had to be rerouted thanks to the pandemic, but we are still producing the amount of work we had intended for at least double the production team. On top of production, I am also the CEO, Social Media & Content Creator, Photographer, Copywriter, PR Officer, HR Officer & about 15 other titles for the business. Trying to balance those roles on top of a production schedule that is constantly backed up 6+ weeks, and also trying to manage our own household & social lives has just become too much. Way too much.
Some things have to change.
Each year during those 10 or so days that we have the store closed after the holidays, at least 5-7 of them are spent reviewing our business & planning for the coming year. This year we took a hard look at what had sold in the last 12 months, and made a few big decisions based off of what we saw.
Changes happening in 2022:
  • Cottontail has been retired. When we released this glaze back in 2019, it was a huge hit! It was clear that y’all loved having a neutral option to mix and match some of our colorful glazes with. Simple, clean, elegant. But what our numbers have shown in the past 2 years is that our Fireside Collection checks off all those boxes as well, and is clearly preferred over Cottontail. We will be selling through the items that we currently have in stock in this glaze, but will not be restocking. If you want to purchase a table setting in Cottontail, we will still be able to take on custom orders like that – but we will not have ready-made pottery once our current stock is gone. You will need to contact us directly to arrange custom orders.
  • Petunia Jade will be undergoing a few changes. First up: this will now be a fall seasonal glaze and only available August-Dec each year. We will continue to have it in our store & online through the end of the month of January to give you time to snag some, but starting in February it will be unavailable for a few seasons. Secondly: when this glaze returns, it will have a new name. Many folks confuse this with our Ocean Jade glaze, so we will be modifying the name to make things clearer.
  • Our only two options for our Kitchen + Table Collection year-round will be Ocean Jade & Shades of Blue
  • We have discontinued a few items in the Kitchen + Table Collection: Petite Bowls, Cocktail Cups, & Cookie Jars. These items will be discontinued in every glaze in this collection, as well as in the Fireside Collection for the Petite Bowls & Cocktail Cups. These items will only be available while our current stock lasts.
With these changes we are hoping to spend our time focusing on what y’all are wanting from us, while also giving us time to test out new forms, items & glazes for the future. We have been so busy in our production the past 18 months that we have had zero time to play & try to create new items for our year-round collections. There are a couple of ideas that we are excited to sink our hands into!
We are also hoping to have enough time to expand our philanthropic endeavors, create enough work to not be out of stock on popular items, and most importantly give ourselves time to rest.
Carvel & I have always been hard workers. We never thought that starting and running a business would be easy, and we were willing to put in the long hours to grow. As we approach year 7 of having our store downtown, and having the past 2 years be during the pandemic, it is becoming CRYSTAL clear that we have to make time for ourselves to rest.
We are burnt out; not only in spirit but physically. My body in particular has been in a state of fight-or-flight for a very long time, and it is showing it. We have every intention of running this business for the rest of our careers, so we know that we need to take actions now to preserve our hearts & bodies so that we can do this for many, many more years.
We have several things in store for the business this year, and we cannot wait to have you all come along with us for the ride. We thank you again & again for showing up and supporting us – you give us the drive to make this company better each year.
Here’s to growth, rest & balance in 2022!
Ashley Norman

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