Healing Touch Pottery in Temple prepares to move operations to Central America

  • Donna Rollins, owner of Healing Touch Pottery is rebuilding her business after a devastating fire that destroyed her kilns last year. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Donna Rollins, owner of Healing Touch Pottery is rebuilding her business after a devastating fire that destroyed her kilns last year. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Donna Rollins, owner of Healing Touch Pottery is rebuilding her business after a devastating fire that destroyed her kilns last year. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Donna Rollins, owner of Healing Touch Pottery is rebuilding her business after a devastating fire that destroyed her kilns last year. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Donna Rollins, owner of Healing Touch Pottery is rebuilding her business after a devastating fire that destroyed her kilns last year. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Donna Rollins, owner of Healing Touch Pottery is rebuilding her business after a devastating fire that destroyed her kilns last year. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/19/2019 9:39:20 PM

A year after a fire that all but destroyed the tools of her trade, Donna Rollins of Healing Touch Pottery is back on her feet and ready for the next step for her business – which includes moving the manufacturing to a new shop in Belize. 

In June of 2018, Rollins and her husband Paul Mowatt were awakened in the middle of the night to find a fire blazing in their yard, consuming the tent where Rollins was firing mugs for her pottery business.

“All I saw was flames kissing the window,” Mowatt said Friday. “If we hadn’t woken up, it would have taken the house.”

Mowatt was able to keep the fire from getting to the house using a bucket and water that had filled a canoe by the house, until the fire department could arrive. But the fire destroyed the circuitry panels on the businesses kilns, as well as some of the surrounding trees, which had to be removed. 

It was the worst possible timing for a disaster, Rollins said – she had already had to scale back her business due to separating from her previous husband and business partner, and to lose both the kilns and the product inside was a harsh pill to swallow. But, she said, it also made her refocus all her energy into her business.

“It was crazy, but we made it. And now, I like to say the fire cleansed all of the bad things, and we started again,” Rollins said.

With funds from a GoFundMe campaign, Rollins was able to repair her kilns and build a cinderblock structure around them to help prevent any future fires, and got back to business.

A year later and she’s up and running again, but said it was impossible to keep up with her orders without employees, which have been difficult to find and to keep, she said.

“It’s very physical work, which I think a lot of people are surprised by,” Rollins said. “We’d train someone and then they’d quit.”

Rollins said she’s receiving interest in orders for as many as 1,500 of her Healing Touch mugs a week, and she herself is only able to produce about 400, even working at a break-neck pace.

She began to look to other countries to establish a studio workshop to produce her product, where she hopes to grow her company. After looking at several different countries in Central America, she and Mowatt decided to establish a workforce in the village of Hattieville in Belize. 

After raising some funds through Kickstarter to purchase kilns, pottery wheels, raw materials and to cover start-up costs, the couple plans to spend six months in Belize training about a dozen employees to start generating the Healing Touch mugs. Most of their employees are women and young mothers, Rollins said.

The company will provide childcare and meals for their workers, something Rollins said is important to her, as someone who was a single mother herself.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT. 


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