Queen City Growlers Trades Mugs for HUGS
“There’s a hunger here for sure, and there are so many awesome organizations and groups out there (like Charlotte Is Creative) that are supporting the creative community in Charlotte and pushing it forward.” – James Carlevatti
At each month’s meeting of CreativeMornings/Charlotte, local creatives are given HUG micro-grants of $250. HUG stands for “Helpful, Unfettered Gifts.” Creatives can apply for HUGs for for-profit or non-profit projects underway in the Queen City. HUGs can be used for everything from boosting social media posts to buying materials to booking event or rehearsal space. Charlotte Is Creative has committed to distributing 250 HUGs to celebrate Charlotte’s 250th anniversary. Click here to learn more or to apply for a HUG.
This week in HUG Life, we interview James Carlevatti, owner of Queen City Growlers and The Little Studio, and one of the first creative in Charlotte to receive a HUG. Since then, he’s expanded his instructional offerings and developed his own initiative, MUGS for HUGS, to raise the funds necessary to provide a HUG to another creative working in Charlotte. Let’s spin the pottery wheel and get to know James (Jamie) a bit better.
Tell us about your business.
The Little Studio is our small-scale ceramics experience/educational business (8-week classes, private lessons and public events). Queen City Growlers, based out of The Little Studio, is our retail business where we make handmade ceramic beer growlers, beer mugs, tumblers and coffee mugs (like the CM CLT mugs!).
How did you get started?
I have always worked in ceramics and pottery in some capacity or another. As the craft beer community began to grow, and I found myself exploring the deliciousness that came with it, there was an organic link that formed. This lead me to create a product line that not only enhances your experience of craft beer (and other delicious drinks) but additionally cultivates quality handmade goods. We truly believe everything tastes better outta’ handmade. It’s what drives us to do what we do each and every day – making things from nothing and teaching others to do the same.
For what did you originally apply for a HUG micro-grant?
My HUG grant was used specifically to help purchase more pottery wheels so that we could grow our classes and studio.
I love creating work for people, but I found over the years of sharing my craft that I equally loved teaching others. I originally applied for a HUG micro-grant to help develop The Little Studio so that I could teach people and help them find the same love/joy from ceramics that I’ve experienced.
What’s been going on in the months since you got HUGged?
Since receiving our HUG, we finished our first full year of teaching experiences at The Little Studio. Growing from two eight-week long classes a week with four students each, to three classes of four students each with other experiences available like private pottery lessons, team outings, private and public events, etc. We’re are now looking to expand in the near future due to high-demand.
Queen City Growlers is pushing to help expand our products and brand, but additionally use our craft to help other businesses create a stronger community and experiences by creating handmade products for them/their brand. For The Little Studio, we’re looking to expand to a larger space so we can add more classes and provide more options.
How did the MUGS for HUGS initiative start? How’s it going?
MUGS for HUGS began with the desire to use handmade goods to help cultivate and encourage another creative’s idea. We were so thankful to receive our own HUG grant from CM CLT and wanted to be able to give back, so we made 50 CM CLT Mugs with the commitment to donate 20% towards a HUG grant. We’ve had great support and I am happy to say we only have FIVE left to sell! Once we do, we will have fully funded another HUG grant! You can purchase one of the lucky remaining five through our website or come stop on by The Little Studio at 3432 The Plaza (the gray house) and snag one.
What role should the creative community play in the future of the city?
The creative community is so welcoming and willing to include others. Over the course of the year, I have found that there is a massive interest from Charlotteans to get creative and learn something new. There’s a hunger here for sure, and there are so many awesome organizations and groups out there (like Charlotte Is Creative) that are supporting the creative community in Charlotte and pushing it forward. My goal with Queen City Growlers and The Little Studio is to do my part by making creativity via ceramics as accessible as possible in the Queen City.
Having a strong creative community is vital in any city. Whether it’s artists moving into different areas helping to attract others, utilizing Charlotte buildings as canvases or helping others learn their own creative potential, there are so many ways it impacts our city. Think about it, how do things progress and change? When people do the same old stuff? Or when people use their creativity and passion to think of unique ways to solve complex issues? I think it’s the latter.