Michele Jurado-Rende is the kind of person who elevates those around her. After running her very own successful pottery business, her hand-painted servingware showcased on shelves at high-end retailers like Barney’s New York, she decided to lend her superpowers to another talented maker: Spencer Peterman.
Spencer and Michele met in the late 90s, when Michele was a successful potter in the Arts and Industry building in Florence, Massachusetts, and Spencer was making baskets and bowls. A craftsman friend, Ed Cohen, invited Michele to join a craftperson’s guild. Spencer was already a member and a mutual friend, and he possessed an important but often overlooked asset: a van! Together, the three of them would carpool and sell their works on the wholesale craft fair circuit together. But it wasn’t until a while later that Michele would see the opportunity to lend her talents to Spencer’s business.
While the market for her work was declining, and Spencer’s market picking up, Michele noticed some chaos starting to creep in to the basket and bowl turning operation. “I could tell he needed a little bit of help with the organization, so I asked him if I could work for him,” she says, recalling back to around 2006. From the get-go, her keen eye for optimization has proved to be quite useful. “So I walk into the shop, and—because it’s a bunch of guys, ok?—all the bowls were on the floor! I said, ‘Ah, I think…we need some shelving units.’” And thus began her stint as the production manger for Spencer’s operation!
With Spencer fully on board to get Michele what she needed, she quickly became the all-around go-to gal. “You really get to know the business and all the customers being the person fulfilling orders. I started to do all of the invoicing, shipping, customer service, quality control…and by necessity, things just got more organized. His sales started doing really well, and he felt like he needed to expand. That’s when he bought this place, back in 2011,” she says, referring to the current workshop and retail gallery in Gill.
“I knew Spencer could do so well,” Michele recalls, “I saw the quality of his work, and it was exceptional. It just had to be a little more visible.”
And visible it has indeed become. In the years since Michele joined, Peterman’s Boards and Bowls has increased production and expanded far beyond craft fairs and shows. With Michele and Spencer now co-owners of Peterman’s Boards and Bowls, Marie (who you’ll meet in a future blog post) has stepped into Michele’s previous role as the Production Manager. Peterman’s has a bustling wholesale operation with dozens of retailers nationwide, a busy workshop and gallery store in Gill and sister workshop in Turners Falls, an exciting retail space in the Boston Public Market, and a fantastic team that makes all that magic possible. Of their current space in Gill, Michele sums it up thusly: “It feels like you’re at summer camp… like this wonderful, cozy retreat.”
You can take a mini-retreat up to Gill to see the space for yourself, and catch Michele and Spencer most days at the Gill gallery. While you’re there, make sure to get a peek of the kitchen space—all that gorgeous interior design and styling? You guessed it: that’s all Michele too!