College Students Put Unique Spin On Business Model

MEMPHIS, Tenn. ( - Two Memphians are turning their passion for ceramics into a profitable business.

19-year-old Micah Dempsey and 20-year-old Christopher Galbreath have been friends since high school.

"We ran cross country together," said Galbreath. "We even took pottery classes together at Harding Academy."

The pair are both students at the University of Memphis. Galbreath, a senior, is studying business and Dempsey, a junior, is studying public relations.

"We had a running joke," Dempsey told Local 24. "We would go back and forth in ceramics class that whenever we hit our mid-life crisis, we would quit our corporate jobs that we got bored at and open up a coffee shop and pottery studio."

During the summer, the pair devoted themselves entirely to their business that's slated to open at 549 Highland Street in October.

"It's not just going to be a coffee shop," said Dempsey. "We will also teach a whole bunch of classes. That's everything from a week-long class, or a month-long, or a one-night class, where you can come in and learn how to make things."

“We definitely thought this is something people would be excited about," said Galbreath. "People wanted to get behind it. The sheer volume of excitement has been incredibly exciting."

The duo told Local 24 they pooled their graduation money and started selling pottery online and at a pop-up shop at Minglewood Hall over the summer. The three-month plan paid off. They said they made roughly $50,000.

"We're on a fast track," said Galbreath. "The pop-up shop taught us lessons. We made some mistakes and we learned from them. Now we're ready to do business."

The pair currently works out of a small office space off Mount Mariah Road making mugs and plates out of clay.

"It's really therapeutic," said Dempsey.

The handmade mugs and plates the pair make will be used by the coffee shop side of the business. They plan to sell them to companies and retailers.

"We're equal parts coffee shop and pottery studio," added Dempsey. "We make all over our mugs that we serve out of and our plates that we serve off of. You can see it being made as you eat and drink."

"We want to make the space welcoming," said Galbreath. "We eventually will have a stage set up for performers and a workspace as well."

Learn more about Belltower Artisans HERE.



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