No artful slacker, Lisa Hough has taken the express flight from Portland to the world with her company Pigeon Toe Ceramics. Since she started the business in January 2009, Hough has introduced nearly two dozen simple, elegant pieces that are now carried by 15 retailers from San Francisco to Switzerland—and she continues to release new designs each month.

In 2008, Hough, an alum of the Pacific Northwest College of Art, took a pottery class at Radius Community Art Studios (radiusstudio.org), revisiting a craft she’d first learned in fourth grade. Within a month she was in business, making clean, modern pieces inflected with a midcentury/Scandinavian sensibility. Local design shops like Ink & Peat and Life & Limb quickly snapped up her work, and other retailers followed. “I didn’t take out any loans,” Hough says,

“I wanted to let it grow organically.” Two months ago, Hough quit her day job, and she now has two
of her own employees.

It’s easy to see why. Hough’s bowls, cups, vases, and planters capture a rich contemporary design aesthetic at an affordable price. Combine those two elements with Portland’s love of the local—every Pigeon Toe piece is made here, from locally sourced materials—and you’ve got a recipe for recession-proof success.

Stay tuned: Hough is currently working on a two-piece birdhouse with a braided leather strap, exclusively for Olio United.

(SEE more of Hough’s work and follow her blog at pigeontoeceramics.com)