According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. Women typically purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines. Each year, I send a few Valentines to some of my favorite people. They enjoy knowing that I put effort into remembering them with a handwritten message in a handmade card.

Love & Art
We live in a world where most things are mass produced. That’s why people tend to embrace, appreciate and treasure handmade items. The very fact that someone took the time to hand create something – whether it’s a card made of ribbons, a bench from your favorite oak tree, an oil-based painting or a wheel-thrown mug – the item reflects the pride of the maker and the very fiber of joy the consumer values on the maker’s creative spirit.

After all, an artisan can’t duplicate their art. As much as they may want to, there will be variations in color, shape, texture and grain. It is fulfilling to know the final piece is one-of-a-kind and not manufactured by the thousands.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, I asked a few of our account specialists to share one of their favorite stories. Our team sells artisan-thrown stoneware to buyers across the nation, helping select the style, glaze and artwork that will retail best in their store and/or reflect their organization.  Many times, the account specialist doesn’t get to see or hold the final piece. The pieces simply get shipped out in bulk and we eagerly wait for the buyer’s reaction to the shipment.

Proud to be a Pepper
TomM is an account specialist with Sunset Hill Stoneware. (We call him TM to avoid confusion with our owner, Tom Dunsirn.) One of TM’s favorite accounts is the Dr. Pepper Museum – it’s an iconic brand and it also reminds him of his dad, Donn. Dr. Pepper museum sells favorite Sunset Hill Stoneware mugs.

Donn is 86 years old, and like most that grew up during the depression, he tends to save things. One of his treasures is a plastic-branded Citgo coffee mug that has an innovative base that could be adhered to a vehicle’s dashboard. Donn’s children were cleaning house and they asked him to let go of it. In turn, Donn asked TM if he “would have use for it.” Well TM works with Sunset Hill Stoneware artisans who throw amazing handcrafted mugs for a living; stepping down to own an old plastic cup from his Dad’s cupboard wasn’t the most appealing treasure. So TM responded with a laugh and a kind, “ah, no Dad.”

Now you may recall from a previous blog that we’ve been fortunate to have signed an exclusive manufacturing agreement with the Dr. Pepper group. TM manages this account and for Christmas this past year, TM purchased his dad a new Dr. Pepper mug to honor his dad’s childhood love for the product. Donn was appreciative of the gift and uses it daily. Like many other items in Donn’s life, this mug is a keeper.  

Nag to Riches
We encourage employees to work on the accounts they love. Our audience base is so diverse – national parks, museums, Fortune 500 corporations, associations, mom and pop shops, breweries; it’s easy to get distracted during the day as you uncover another market to research.

Anne is an account specialist and has always admired horses. Her daughter Gemini, also a fan, operates Gemini Stedl Photography that specializes in affordable equine photography. When Anne came on board, she pursued the iconic Santa Anita Park.


For more than 80 years, this historic Southern California race track has set the stage for the most dramatic moments in thoroughbred racing, where legendary racehorses crossed the finish line into infamy. The racetrack is known for the inspiring story of Seabiscuit – the true account of the famous undersized depression-era racehorse that lifted the spirits of the nation and gave Americans hope during a difficult time. The movie inspires its audience with its story of determination and love.

                 Santa Anita Park sells favorite Sunset Hill Stoneware mugs.

This great American story was filmed in 2002 at the famous Santa Anita Park. Their brand is now set in stone(ware) and stands as a constant reminder that diligent perseverance does pay off.

Sweet Tradition
Many times our stoneware mugs serve as 1st, 2nd, 3rd place award recognition trophies for marathons and contests. That was the inspiration for Brandi, our account specialist who works with The Omni Grove Park Inn. For more than two decades The Omni Grove Park Inn has conducted a National Gingerbread House Competition™ with open entry categories for adults, teen, youth and child.Omni Grove Park Inn sells favorite Sunset Hill Stoneware mugs.

It began in 1992 with a small group of gingerbread houses built by community members. Since then, it has evolved into one of the nations most celebrated and competitive holiday events. More than 150 entries from the United States and Canada were received in 2016 all competing for the $5,000 grand prize. The well-covered media event has been broadcast on ABC’s Good Morning America, the Travel Channel and the Food Network and is judged by nationally renowned food, arts and media professionals. The entries are on display each year from Thanksgiving into the New Year, with the exhibition now a holiday family tradition.

Brandi had the pleasure of working with the resort to create memorable takeaway mugs for guests. We hope our creative readers consider entering their own sweet gingerbread creation The Omni Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition™ in 2017.

We hope you enjoy some of your favorite things this week. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Keeping watch. Pat

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