The Oxford Eagle
An Ole Miss graduate is working to build a new pottery business in Oxford. Courtney Young, owner and creator of Courtson Pottery, works with her husband to create and sell original pottery pieces, some with Ole Miss themes.
“I’ve never taken a pottery class,” Young said. “I learned everything from my mom. Around Christmas of 2012, my friends started asking me to make them Colonel Rebel or Bulldog pieces. After that, I realized this was going to become more than a hobby.”
When she left for college, her mom became a full-time potter. When Young returned home on weekends, she worked with her and developed also developed a passion for pottery.
“Each individual piece has something unique about it,” Young said. “We make every piece ourselves. I put so much heart into it. It’s a great stress reliever. You can put all your time and focus your work and forget about everything else.”
Young said her husband, John David, is the mastermind of the operation. According to Young, it takes great strength and perseverance to pour the heavy clay, especially in the recent heat.
“At first, he did not really see anything to it,” Young said. “Then, he became interested in how he could do something different that no one else has.”
Young also works in the athletic office tutoring and mentoring athletes at Ole Miss. She also holds a degree in English education, but does not plan to teach.
“It just wasn’t something I cared for,” Young said. “When I go to these flea markets, people ask me about my pieces. When I’m talking about them, I realize I’m really passionate about this. I never thought it would be like that though. I thought it would just be something to pass time with, but now it’s something I really care about.”
One of her biggest influences is McCartys Pottery. Lee McCarty was an Ole Miss graduate and professor, who later created a well-known pottery business in Mississippi with his wife, Pup McCarty.. In 1996, he was given a large exhibition in the University of Mississippi Museum of Art.
“Mr. McCarty had a lot to do with Ole Miss,” Young said. “Everybody wants to see how he does it and what it takes to create pottery like his. People everywhere in Mississippi are greatly inspired by his work.”
Originally from the small town of McCarley, Mississippi, Young has other family members with artistic genes.
“My brother is building his children a baseball field,” she said. “My dad has always been able to make anything we wanted. And my mom has always been very crafty. She can make, or even cook, anything.”
One of her favorite things is telling the story behind the name Courtson Pottery.
“I grew up in an antebellum home in the country,” Young said. “Around the 1990s, a little old lady from our town told my mom every antebellum home needed a name. She took it upon herself to name our home Courtson after my brother Jason and I. So we just ran with the name.”
There are many pottery businesses in Oxford with which Courtson Pottery has to compete. Young’s way of selling products is to stay unique and protect her secrets.
Young plans on staying in Oxford for the long haul. She grew up an Ole Miss fan, and will be one the rest of her life. She hopes to hold a booth during Double Decker this year, but for now, will be at the Oxford Flea Market and local home festivals.
“It’s the small town feel that I love,” Young said. “Oxford is actually big to me compared to where I grew up. While Oxford may be a small, homey town, it is also big enough to provide opportunities to do bigger and better things.”
Young credits Facebook with her businesses. She uses it for word-of-mouth advertising. Although she would rather sell her work at flea markets, she does take custom orders on Facebook, depending on how busy she is.
“I started posting pictures of what I made for friends on Facebook,” she said. “Before I knew it, they were sharing the pictures, and many others were liking my work. That’s when I decided to start my own Facebook page. When I did that, it really helped get all my work out there.”
Because she and her husband both work full-time, it has been hard for them to work on pottery as much as they would like. Last spring was their busiest production time, but with the heat of the summer, they had to draw back.
“I will always do this as a hobby no matter what,” Young said. “I’m not really sure where life is going to take me. I would love to make this into a full business and get my work into stores, but it’s all about the timing.”
Young fully embraces the Oxford culture and will continue to make her pottery.
Oxford resident Carly Lee said she found the Courtson Pottery booth at a flea market and couldn’t look away.
“It’s people like this who help make Oxford the artistic, unique town it is,” she said.