Portland is known for a lot of things. From craft beer to roses and Subarus, Stumptown is unique in many ways, but not perhaps more so than in the creative spirit of its citizens .
That Portland is a creative mecca, a place where imagination and ideas thrive, is a secret to no one. There’s a reason why artists from all over the country converge here to pursue their dreams. This city caters to the creative drive.
Someone who knows this all too well is Brett Binford, who co-founded Mudshark Studios, a ceramics company headquartered near 20th and Burnside.
Although he is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Brett came to Portland to continue an education he started in New York, but it wasn’t long before he decided it was time to embark on something new and exciting.
“I realized I needed to start the first company,” he says, “which was Mudshark.”
Brett got into ceramics at a very young age, developing a love for the craft that never left him.
“My father and grandfather built a kick wheel in our basement and it was something I played with literally all the time starting when I was six or seven years old,” he says.
Fast forward to 2010, and Mudshark was Brett’s ultimate realization of his passion. With the help of his business partner Chris, Mudshark began in their basement, but would soon find itself occupying a 17,000-square-foot warehouse space.
Still, it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“At the five-year mark, we weren’t really making any money,” he explains, “so we had a meeting every Wednesday in the back yard over a twelve pack of beer to brainstorm ideas with our friends.”
Those brainstorm sessions, no doubt influenced by the beer, led to the Portland Growler Company.
“It’s exactly as it sounds,” Brett says. “We make ceramic growlers.”
Knowing they had stumbled upon an important niche, Brett and Chris watched as their businesses took on a life of their own.
Today, they have sold nearly 50,000 growlers to all corners of the world, from England to Tasmania and Peru.
“Japan seems to be really popular right now,” he says.
With his company now doing quite well, you would think that Brett takes some time for himself, perhaps to focus on a hobby or two. Except you’d be wrong.
“I work seven days a week and when I’m not working I am thinking about ceramics and art,” he bluntly admits.
His news focus is on the National Council on the Education of Ceramic Art conference, to be held in Portland this March.
“There will be five-thousand attendees from all around the world and for the last eighteen months I have been helping to plan that,” he says.
Brett hopes that once the convention is over, he will be able to spend more quality time with his girlfriend and their Mastiff and Chihuahua.
Fortunately, should he find the time, Brett considers Portland the perfect place to unwind. “I love the balance of urban and neighborhood here,” he concludes.
So do we, Brett, and we’re glad we have aspiring artist/entrepreneur PDX People like yourself furthering the creative culture of our fair city.
William Bessette – PDX People Contributor
William Bessette is a journalist and freelance writer who has been covering politics, entertainment, culture and travel for over thirteen years. When he’s not profiling Portland-area restaurants and residents, you can find him reporting on national and international travel and eco-tourism through his travel brand, Floppy Hat Adventures.