The 8 Ball: Samantha Hoff
Samantha Hoff knows a thing or two about working with your hands. Samantha is the founder of Pottery with a Purpose. Rooted locally in Massachusetts, PWAP offers eco-conscious DIY home pottery kits born from a deep desire to tame anxiety and promote community well-being. Samantha aims to show how therapeutic and accessible pottery can be. Working with your hands gets you out of your head and requires presence- something we think is important to move towards for everyone these days. Meet Samantha and check out one of new favorite local small businesses doing something really great.
Tell us about Pottery with a Purpose, how it works, and why you started it?
Pottery with a Purpose (PWAP), promotes individual and community well-being through a thoughtfully curated line of eco-conscious DIY home pottery kits that invite creativity and mindfulness anytime, anywhere - all while giving back to mental health initiatives.
A lifelong struggle with anxiety and burnout stemming from an early career in the fast-paced tech industry - which didn’t align with my values - led me to seek out hobbies that offered a means of relaxation and self-care. During the start of the pandemic, after watching almost all of Netflix, I turned to a high school hobby of pottery making which helped relieve daily anxiety and reawaken inspiration. I created PWAP to share the same benefits (and more) with others in a way that is accessible, fun, and eco-friendly.
Our first two kits (choose from air dry or ceramic clay) include everything necessary for 1-2 people to hand build original pots, hanging planters, or functional beverage mugs. The kits can be bought individually or as part of a membership. New projects are released every 3 months.
What practices do you personally have to manage your mental health and feel your best?
There are so many ways to exercise our minds like we exercise our bodies. Two things that have helped to keep me afloat, especially during Covid, are my yoga + mindfulness practice and my therapist. I try to move my body a little each day, whether it is yoga, a stretch or a walk outside. I use breathing exercises like box-breathing, which is a balancing breathwork technique to reduce stress and to help me when I can’t fall asleep. I’m also very fortunate to have access to a great therapist.
How do you start your days?
I’m not a morning person, and I’ve finally embraced it. I like to say that I’m on west coast time despite living on the east coast. Once I’m out of bed, I have a cup of green tea on the couch or deck with my pups, Joey + Mara.
Why pottery? Could you tell us more about what working with your hands does for you and what you think it can do for others?
Working with my hands gets me out of my head, and dirty hands keep me off my phone. For me, doing pottery requires attention to how something feels when I am making it as much as how it looks, so it requires presence. If you space out for a second, you might poke a hole in your vessel...but that is one of my favorite things about clay, it’s a very forgiving medium, so you can easily add more clay to close the hole, make it a drainage hole, or start anew with the same piece of clay. My aim is to share how therapeutic and accessible pottery can be, and to show people that don’t consider themselves creative, that they can make something beautiful with their own two hands out of mud.
Who inspires you? Do you have great teachers or guides you turn to for advice on managing stress or anxiety?
My yoga teacher, Laura Ahrens, is amazing. It isn’t your typical western, twist yourself into a pretzel yoga class with music on. She focuses a lot on meditation, breathwork, self-study + yogic philosophy, all of which help me with managing my anxiety. Two of my favorite mantras from her are:
“Do your best and let go of the rest”
“This is the way things are right now”
Tell us about the DIY space. What gets you excited about this space?
I can talk endlessly about DIY projects. Our garage is full of random items (vintage army cots, tree stumps, old painter’s scaffolding) waiting to be repurposed.
I’ve picked a lot up from yard sales, our local ‘Buy Nothing Group’ on Facebook, and antique stores. In part, I think I like DIY projects, because I enjoy talking to the people the stuff comes from! I also love the process of taking something and transforming it into something completely new that is beautiful and/or useful. It inspires me to dream and think outside of the box. Also, it’s pretty empowering to wield power tools.
Tell us more about giving back at Pottery with a Purpose (PWAP)?
Every day of the year, 5% of the profit from each kit is donated to a mental health non-profit or urgent initiative. The first quarter, donations are going to the ‘Anxiety & Depression Association of America’. I am fortunate to have access to good mental health professionals and treatment, and I want to help make it more accessible for others.
In the future, customers will have the chance to pick which mental health causes donations will benefit.
How do you like to end your days?
I typically end my days watching TV, playing a game of Rummikub with my husband, or taking a spin around the MarioKart track.