PHOTO BY TEJAS SINGH / THE SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY
Local businesses in Brantford have been struggling to adapt to the limitations of COVID-19. However, there are remarkable stories to be found in the midst of this chaos.
In the heart of Brantford, on Colborne Street, is a pottery shop called Smakdab, and Maria’s Original Pizza.
Rose Risi is the owner of Smakdab pottery. Coincidentally she also worked at Maria’s Original Pizza, which is her family’s restaurant.
The Risi family are Brantford locals that built their businesses in their own home.
Unfortunately, a few years back, Smakdab pottery had a tragic fire that destroyed everything. Risi allowed this tragedy to fuel her.
She saw this as an opportunity to rebuild Smakdab and make it ten times better.
She was introduced to pottery through school.
“I took classes at Mohawk and enjoyed them so much I decided to pursue it,” said Risi.
Surprisingly she found this new venture similar to making pizza.
“I was always making pizza and wanted to try something new, it was like a natural extension and the process happened very organically,” said Risi.
Photos were taken prior to the COVID-19 lockdown.
At Smakdab customers can ask for something to be made or they can learn to do it themselves through the various workshops they offer.
These workshops are not like other pottery places.
Risi will physically show you how to make the desired project—you can expect to get all that clay stuck underneath your nails.
Once the creation is complete, Risi finalizes it by popping it into the oven and glazing it.
If you are looking for something abstract and unique there are no limits to Risi’s ability. “I do many jobs that others usually can’t […] the more complicated, the better actually.”
She has made many amazing works of art that are displayed throughout Brantford.
Risi does a lot of custom work and believes in giving back to the community through her talents.
She has made the awards given out at local chilli festivals, monuments at elementary schools and even on the Laurier Brantford campus.
COVID-19 has hit Risi hard, as it has with many others. The store began limiting the number of workshops and the number of people who can attend.
“I really miss the elementary school field trips here…I love teaching kids how to get their hands dirty and shaping their young minds,” said Risi.
Smakdad is more than a pottery shop.
“Music, eating and gardening are also a big part of the experience here,” said Risi.
Smakdad has music constantly playing and a magnificent garden. She even has birds that anyone can see—could it get any more magical?
Smakdab pottery and Maria’s Original Pizza were all built from the bottom up. Sometimes it starts with a family shop or wanting to learn a new skill, or just wanting a new adventure.
This block has had it rough because of the fire. Smackdab pottery only began business again near the beginning of 2020. Just to be hit by COVID-19.
Everything happens for a reason and as long as one has the strength and courage to get back up on their feet, then everything will turn out the way it is supposed to.
Next time you find yourself complaining about nothing to do, make sure to check out these shops.
Start off with a little pottery making at Smackdab pottery and then head on over to Maria’s Original Pizza for some nice, authentic Italian pizza.