Creating philanthropy

Jessica Souder

About 15 years ago, Jessica Souder succumbed to her sister’s repeated requests to check out a pottery studio near their mother’s home in San Francisco. She thought, “Why don’t we have this in Chico?” The married mother of two was so moved by the experience that, soon after, she opened Glazed Creations, a paint-your-own pottery studio in downtown Chico in 2000. Both business and owner have seen big changes since the opening: Glazed Creations is no longer a brick-and-mortar enterprise, and recently Souder added a new career in “philanthropic team-building” at Odyssey Teams to her pottery work, and is busy helping to make dreams come true on a much larger scale.

How has Glazed Creations changed over the years?

I’ve been in three different locations in Chico. The first was next to the Senator Theatre on Main Street, then I moved to a location across from Beatniks [Coffee House & Breakfast Joint]. Then I wanted to be downtown again, but I didn’t want the big space, so I found this great place on Second Street above the Beach Hut Deli. Now, I’m fully mobile. I do field trips at schools, birthday parties and the CARD summer camps. I’ve even thought about getting an RV and being like a food truck.

What impact does art-making have on people?

It feels so good to paint pottery. Everything goes away. For a little while, you can feel like you’re away from everything. It took my sister to drag me into the studio to realize that.

What’s your new job all about?

I also work for Odyssey Teams, a global philanthropic team-building company. We build bicycles and give them to deserving youths. A corporation will call us to facilitate a program for them. If they pick the bike program, we bring in bikes to be built by their participants. At the end of the program, once they build these bikes, they discover their customer is actually a child who’s going to walk in the room. The kids walk in and they realize they’re getting a new bike. Most of the kids have never had a bike, and probably never [would] if it wasn’t for this. The participants don’t know they’re building the bikes for the kids, and the kids don’t know they’re getting the bikes. It’s a very impactful program. We also put together prosthetic hands to be used for people in developing countries, like India, Cambodia or Thailand, for example.

Is there a connection for you between facilitating creativity and philanthropy?

With Glazed Creations, for me to be happy, I needed to help others in some way, even if I’m helping them paint a pot. I think that’s where that comes in. The opportunity to help people is just necessary in my life. And working with Odyssey also fills me up with that.