Words by Marléna Ahearn
Photos by Julia Merrell
Sara Kozak, owner and potter at Ritual Clay Company, dedicates her time to making pieces that are part of positive moments in people’s everyday lives. Ritual Clay is meant to honor and commemorate the rituals we all have that make us feel good.
“We all have these little rituals, these moments that make life a little better for ourselves. They can be really small and simple or really big and grand. But regardless, I feel like pottery and my art can play a role in those moments, and in a passive way make that day slightly better for someone,” says Sara.
Sara started working with clay when she was around six years old. Always one to be drawn to art and making things, she continued to revisit it throughout her life. She always wanted to be a potter, but every rational bit of advice told her “you’re not going to make any money being a potter.” After graduating with a degree in communication and information design, newly engaged, and in a new town, she decided to take up pottery again. After buying a $75 kiln and some tools off Craigslist, she started to experiment.
“I had just enough to start doing something to keep me motivated until I figured out what the plan was. I got back into pottery, started listing it online and then Anthropologie reached out. It snowballed from there,” says Sara.
After working with Anthropologie for four years and finding success with HGTV, she fell in love with Rochester, finding the small businesses to be far more rewarding.
“The one-on-one interaction is better. I love being able to drop the product off, see it displayed in people’s stores, and feel like I’m contributing to our local community. I’m really grateful for my large opportunities like Anthropologie and HGTV, but I love Rochester and I love being a part of this.”
Before moving to Rochester, Sara and her husband were living off Canandaigua lake, and participating in Mayday! Underground and other Rochester artist events. Every time she ventured to the city, she was overcome with positive feelings. When she had to decide where she wanted to call home (for herself and Ritual Clay) the answer was easy.
“It’s the place I should have always been calling home,” says Sara.
As for being a teacher, Sara has always had a “speak up and say something” personality. She has an affinity for learning and loved knowing that what she can do, she can share.
“I always really liked to be able to know that what I’m learning doesn’t just benefit me. I can make somebody else have a connection with clay or art that makes them feel good.”
At one point, she considered going back to school for art therapy but realized she doesn’t need a degree to make an impact. Her goal was to make clay approachable for all skill levels and make it so people don’t take it too seriously—to give people one night to enjoy themselves and play with the clay.
A year ago, when she was planning her first Ritual Market (then called the Ritual Clay pop-up party) she discovered Rochester Brainery and started teaching. This year, she will be hosting Ritual Market at Rochester Brainery on November 30, 2019.
Ritual Market’s 2019 theme is ‘Winter in Southern California.’ Think: Terracotta and greenery. Modern and minimalist design. With the help of Peach Rose Studio, The House of Roushey, The Botanist Rochester, and more the theme has evolved into an immersive experience.
In addition to this special curated shopping experience, Ritual Market is designed for a good time. Food, warm cider, and inspired tablescapes for photos make this event a place to linger and enjoy away from the busy buying season. It’s not just a holiday event, it’s a place to come together.
“We are all makers, with big magic. People who don’t celebrate anything can still come and be a part of it.”