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Hitting the jackpot

Published:Saturday | May 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Shaunette Wright, Gleaner Writer

Beneath Elvis Rowe's unassuming presence and his friendly smile is a serious man on a mission.

Rowe, who has been making flower and decorative pots, jars and vases for more than 20 years, said his craftsmanship has been a labour of love and he is inspired to stamp his own mark in the industry.

"I don't believe in piracy, copying other people's ideas. I love to create new things and make my own mark," he told Saturday Life.

Rowe, who had his masterpieces on display at the Jamaica Horticultural Society's annual flower show, Celebration in the Garden, in Hope Pastures, St Andrew, last weekend, traced his interest in pottery to his father.

"My father was a potter. I learned the trade from him. He used to work with Clays of Jamaica long before I was born, and his designs were unique.

"I fell in love with the craft and have been doing it ever since," he said.

As a woman walked inside his booth and asked if the products were made by Clays of Jamaica, a knowing smile spread across his face, testimony to his father's artistry.

"It's his first time displaying at a flower show," said Rowe's sister, Simone Myton, who is his assistant.

"We've been to fairs like the potters' fair at the Forestry Department and Kumba Mi Yabba at Devon House, but we decided to try the flower show this year," Myton explained, saying they were trying to source new income streams.

overcoming recession

The 30-something creator works from a factory in Eleven Miles, Bull Bay, St Andrew, where there is a greater variety on display.

"We had to choose a limited amount for the show, but choices are plenty if one comes to the factory," said Myton, who plays assistant to her brother.

"Clients come in, browse, make their choices and orders, and they either leave wth their purchases, pick up at another time or we deliver the goods."

Myton said Rowe also supplies flower shops.

Though the recession wiped out 50,000 jobs in Jamaica last year and shuttered untold small businesses, Myton said their pottery business has weathered the economic storm.

"From an average sales perspective, sales are good. Everyone is trying to cut back. You'll find that some clients who used to order three jars are ordering one.

"But on the flip side, a new customer will come in and order four. So, I think it balances out," Myton added.

Rowe also specialises in bird baths and coal pots - custom-made or done to order. Among his popular creations at the JHS flower show were his signature Chimney pot, as well as the Strawberry variety.