This award honors a small business Chamber member that demonstrates steady growth, solid leadership and a strong commitment to the success of the Sheridan area. This business shows innovation in strategic planning, employee development and customer service and is actively involved in the betterment of the community.
Founder and owner Stephen Mullins describes Red Bison Studio as a “community clay center” and production house for functional ceramics. Mullins offers several clay classes each week, private events and also creates and manufactures several lines of ceramic mugs, plates, bowls and other dinnerware. These are sold as retail in the shop, as well as wholesale to more than 25 locations around the country. The business has supplied over 50 different companies with custom mugs and continues to grow the wholesale and custom mug business.
Red Bison Studio began originally as Red Buffalo Pottery in 2012 in a ceramic class at the University of Wyoming. After graduating from UW, Mullins taught high school and worked to grow his skill level, studio and audience out of his garage by attending craft fairs and festivals. After moving to Sheridan in 2014, Mullins resigned from teaching and in June 2018 moved the business out of the garage and into his first brick-and-mortar store on Grinnell Plaza in downtown Sheridan. In February 2019, Mullins had hired one full-time and one part-time employee and was able to move into a bigger location on Sheridan’s Main Street. This allowed Mullins to increase retail space, class space and inventory storage.
“I had two big goals in mind when I opened Red Bison Studio,” Mullins said. “One was to have a space for my work and other people’s artwork from around our area and people who had ties to Wyoming. My other goal was to be able to offer Sheridan and other surrounding communities the opportunity to be able to work with clay. Clay as an art form is accessible to everyone and has no biases. I have had parent-child classes with kids as young as 4 to adult classes of 65-plus, and all groups have had a great time. We offer date nights for couples, single night sessions for individuals and groups and parent/child classes for young Sheridanites and their guardians.”
Mullins and his staff have been dementia-friendly certified and open their doors to high school classes for tours and question/answer sessions. They welcome rural schools who don’t have a ceramics program to the studio to be able to work with clay. Red Bison Studio also donates to several local charities such as the Sheridan County Public Library System, Rooted in Wyoming and Joey’s Foundation.
In addition, the studio has continued to partner with local businesses and events, working with Bighorn Design Studio, Surf Wyoming, The Mint, Weatherby, The Union, Twisted Hearts, Smith Alley, Java Moon, Black Tooth Brewing Company, Luminous Brewhouse, The Dead Swede Hundo, WYO Candle Company, Joy in the Morning Jewelry, Rooted in Wyoming, Soul Revival, The Kula Space, SAGE Community Arts and Mindfulness with Intent.
“I feel that partnering with other local businesses not only is a good resource to help each other out but is a benefit for Sheridan to have businesses propping each other up, not knocking each other down. Collaboration has been a wonderful thing, and I have had several residents express gratitude towards it,” Mullins elaborated.
Through state grant funds and business funds, Mullins was able to send two staff members to career advancement training in Helena, Montana, for two separate week-long trainings that greatly influenced how they work in the shop. Mullins also was given an honorable mention in the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship program this year for his work, and the studio was featured in Destination Sheridan’s spring/summer edition.
This content was provided by Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce for the 2020 Community Guide, a magazine created by the Chamber and The Sheridan Press. Pick up a free copy at The Press, the Chamber or in magazine racks throughout Sheridan County.