Jewel of the Jewel - Peter's Pottery of Mound Bayou - MS Folk LifeDeep in the heart of the Delta, just inside the city limits of Mound Bayou, a couple of unassuming brown wooden buildings draw thousands of visitors each year. These buildings house the studio and the showroom of Peter’s Pottery. The business, created by the Woods brothers more than 20 years ago, has brought the family both artistic and financial success. The pottery - both practical and decorative - has become a popular symbol of the Delta.
The Woods family creates functional and beautifully designed custom pieces made from the rich Mississippi mud, mostly clay from Louisville and Columbus.
The Family Business
Perseverance and pride are two words that describe Peter Woods. When this Mound Bayou native could not get a loan from the bank for his family’s business idea, he did not give up. Instead, Woods sold his home and maxed out his credit cards to come up with the equity to start Peter’s Pottery with three of his brothers. Today, this family-centered business sells their Mississippi mud pottery in 25 stores and ships all over the world. Perseverance and hard work, along with talent, made that happen.
Pride, on the other hand, shows up every day through the respect and dignity this family shows for their roots, their parents, and the town that raised them. Their father and mother, Sandy Sr. and Ruthie, were sharecroppers who raised their children in the church in the Freedman’s town of Mound Bayou. Both the values of their faith and this special town influenced the Woods children. Now Peter and his family hope to help revitalize this historic community with their very successful venture.
“When we started the business, the family all came together and took care of each other until we were financially sound. We covered for each other,” Peter said. “That is the way we were raised.”
Peter’s Pottery is still a family business - all but four of its 19 employees are Woods family members, and they work together as a team. Only two of the four Woods brothers are alive today. Along with their sister, Brenda, they are committing to training a new generation of Woods potters.
“It’s a family business and we are blessed to work together,” said Peter. “We are each creative in our own way and the pieces are a collective effort. We might have disagreements, but we don’t let that interfere with what needs to be done. This is a collaborative effort and we all have different duties and wear different hats.”
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[ Article by Harriet Riley ]