Convivial Production and its white dishware and planters were born from a joy of creating.
Chentell Shannon, founder of the Kansas City-based company, grew up in Hawaii and fell in love with ceramics in high school. Her older sister had taken a class that piqued her interest.
“Working with your hands with clay is so methodical,” she said. “It naturally gives your mind time to process things. It brings peace and relief.”
Shannon considered studying art therapy. She ended up graduating with an interdisciplinary degree in community art and urban studies from Wheaton College in Illinois. She met her husband there, and he was from Kansas City.
“We said we’d give it a test year here, and I just loved it,” Shannon said. “It’s a supportive community for the arts and entrepreneurs.”
Shannon started Convivial as an events business, where people would rent her ceramic place settings for weddings. Instead, people wanted to buy the pieces. Now they are sold in boutiques across the country.
Convivial’s pieces are inspired by architecture: water towers, bridges, stained glass windows, brick and greenhouses. Most are white, so the shape is in the spotlight.
Convivial’s products range from a $10 ring dish to a $30 plate to a large planter for $120. Locally, they’re sold at Coveted Home, Made in KC, Urban Provisions, Golden & Pine and Ad Astra Market. Convivial also is working on a collection for Ibis Bakery’s upcoming location in the Crossroads.
In the spring, Convivial tripled its space and moved into a studio in the West Bottoms. The business has grown to five employees who make about 250 pieces per day.
The growth has allowed for Convivial to come full circle. It makes enough pieces that they can be rented — through Ultrapom Event Rental — and purchased.
“This is a great mixture of fear and excitement,” Shannon said. “I’m really grateful for everything I have, and I work as hard as possible to continue to do this. My goal is to produce more jobs in the arts.”