Meet the Maker – Mel Rice of Mel Rice Ceramica

Chloe Tate

This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re getting to know Mel Rice, who is the artist behind the beautiful ceramics line Mel Rice Ceramica.


Mel of Mel Rice Ceramica


LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Mel: I was trained as a pastry chef. This provided the perfect environment for me to learn early on in life about hard labor, little pay, and private college debt. The desire to control my day, my life, and my experiences was huge so when I saw an opportunity I sprang with no hesitation.


LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Mel: A work of functional couture ceramics that hold a quiet modern form.


LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Mel: People are now desiring and longing for food and fashion with these qualities … custom, heavilysourced, slow prepared, local, old school and ultra crafted. I wanted to create a brand that exuded all these aspects with pottery which is thrown and finished on a potter’s wheel. I felt that there was and is a need for clean handmade ceramics and I was tired of seeing triple glazed, clunky, cracked, never trimmed pottery everywhere. I knew that people would buy my product because I could offer something so much better.


LBC: Where can we find your products?
Mel: My pottery will be sold at my shop set to open in November of this year on Valencia St. in San Francisco. I also sell at The Mill and Rare Device in San Francisco and at The Collector Shop in Berkeley and in San Francisco International Airport. Also, this year my new website will launch with great online shopping options.


A collection of Mel Rice Ceramica mugs
A collection of Mel Rice Ceramica mugs. We love the various shapes and designs!


LBC: Walk us through a typical work day.
Mel: My work hours run from noon to midnight. My studio is in my home which is a blessing and curse.  I live on the coast and the ocean keeps me balanced. I go thru different stages of the process of creating a piece and I create over 15 designs currently. If I am in the throwing process of the porcelain or decorating the pieces, I’ll work really long days with Dateline or Eckhart Tolle in the back. If I am packing up, glazing, or doing office work, I’ll work shorter days and then fit in cocktails and brunches with my friends. Keeping happy is important to me.


LBC: What are the some things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Mel: Do you really feel passionate about your business? Are you really ready to adapt and be flexible to obtain what is needed to create a successful business?


LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Mel: I walk outside where I can take in deep breaths, views, and scents. I like to saturate my other senses when I am stressed or overwhelmed. I’ll go somewhere where I can see and smell beautiful things so my mind has no chance to take over. I also love to break a sweat in vinyasa yoga classes. As much as I don’t want to go, once I am there and out, life is good and all is lighter.


A collection of porcelain vases
A collection of porcelain vases, hand crafted and painted by Mel Rice


LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.
Mel: The best decision I made in my business to date was to just start. It may be the hardest thing. Then after starting, maybe not right away but I soon after decided to be confident and really, really be and believe in the person I wanted to be and was already becoming.


LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. 
Mel: I trust easily which is hard thing to do in business. I thought that if people were friends or friendly that meant trust. Money runs thicker than blood. I have been played and it was a hard lesson but I was grateful to have had the experience to have snapped me into shape. I decided to dive deep into my craft and get education. I had faith that I had the drive and desire to work insanely hard to put out something truly special.


Nesting Bowls
Black and white hand made nesting bowls by Mel Rice Ceramica


LBC: Is there a cause or a particular organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?
Mel: San Francisco City College has had issues from many years with funding from the SF City and CA State Government due to the desire of privatization and making money. It is important to me that education for the community and for low income youth stay available in San Francisco for decades to come.


LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox you can’t do without?
Mel:  Craigslist. I am always searching for used equipment at steals and always find them on craigslist. I have a great pottery studio now at an 8th of the price thanks to it! Nature. It is a constant source of balance and inspiration in my work and life. The ability to go online and through chats, youtube, and social media obtain opinions, information, and advice instantly if confused or in need of clarity or support or release.


LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Mel: In a large production space in San Francisco, on the cover of Dwell, with a great staff customizing amazing pottery for homes, restaurants, design companies, furniture, and eclectic stores, and cafes everywhere.


Pair of mugs
We love how Mel lets the simplicity of the design speak for itself.


LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures. 
Mel: Frozen Jimmy Dean Egg, Cheese, & Sausage Biscuits


LBC: What’s the one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?
Mel: Chocolate


LBC: What’s your favorite quote, and who said it?
Mel:  Just do it.


LBC: What’s your spirit animal?
Mel: Mermaid


LBC: Have you ever held an odd job or one you weren’t particularly fond of?
Mel: I sliced deli meats and cheese in the weeee hours of the morning.


If you were given a million dollars but were not allowed to keep a single penny for yourself,  friends, or family, who would you spend it?
Mel: I would go open spay and neuter clinics in Mexico and Central America.


Thank you, Mel, for sharing your talent with us!  We absolutely love your line and the beautiful simplicity that each piece holds, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for Mel Rice Ceramica – including your new shop and website!  We’re cheering you on!


Connect with Mel and Mel Rice Ceramica all around the web:
Company Website


Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker Monday” series? Drop us a line: hello AT Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!


About the Author

Chloe Tate

Once described as “relentlessly cheerful,” Chloe is a lover of all things colorful and practically every fruit known to man. She lives in Atlanta and divides her time between supporting Lucky Break clients, keeping shop at a local artisan market, and event planning for business conferences. She’s also working on the launch of her skincare line while finishing her degree in Organizational & Leadership Studies. True story: Chloe shares 50% of Lela’s DNA and is poised to inherit her obscenely large shoe collection.

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