Local Vendor Spotlight

Posted by Jessie Jacobson on Jun 28th 2023

At Tonkadale, we are proud to present a unique line-up of local vendors. When you purchase locally made products, you are investing in our community, ingenuity, and the entrepreneurial dreams of artists and creators. They get to do what they love because of all of you!

Buttermilk Ceramics

Lex Lazarewicz


How did you get started?

I first fell in love with pottery in high school. I remember throwing a big raku pitcher and having the time of my life when I fired it in a trash can. I briefly majored in ceramics in college but ended up taking a long hiatus when I transferred into the sciences. After college I got back into it by taking a class at the Northern Clay Center in MPLS. That class, along with an extremely supportive partner got me thinking about starting a business and after throwing 200 cups for my own wedding, to sort of shake off the dust, I started Buttermilk Ceramics and it has been going better than I could have ever imagined.

Where do you find inspiration?

I follow a lot of potters on Instagram. I love seeing what people are doing, what techniques they are using, and then seeing if I can make those techniques work for me.

Next steps for you?

My new studio, above the garage, is up and running. It’s beautiful and I’m excited to do consultations up there. Also planning for a few studio sales where people can come check out the space and buy my work. I’m currently trying out some new clays and glazes, hoping to find something really fun to incorporate into my collection. The latest project is a collection of 100 cups for a wedding. It’s a super fun project where each cup is different. I am also playing with shapes and textures for planters. Planning to do some sort of sale with new designs later in the year. Other than that, my husband and I are spending the summer hanging out with our toddler, climbing, traveling, and enjoying the weather.

Shop Buttermilk Ceramics at Tonkadale!

Sol Soils

John Porter and Travis Thein


How did you get started?

Sol Soils is a small, Minneapolis-based company founded in 2021 by friends and plant aficionados Travis Thein and John Porter. Travis developed a deep interest in cacti and succulents during the pandemic of 2020 and realized quickly that all the mainstream specialty soils available retained far too much water for his indoor, potted plants. He spent over 1,000 hours researching, designing, and testing different soil mixes for his own plants. The goal was to create faster-draining mediums to help his indoor plants thrive. Since then, he has been regularly consulting with soil scientists and botanists to perfect the mixes. John was fascinated and impressed with the whole process, and during a trip to Palm Springs—while browsing a cactus nursery—the two decided to create a business to share these mixes more broadly. Sol Soils was born.

Where do you find inspiration?
We love the teaching component of our work and educating fellow plant lovers on the value of using truly higher-quality soil. People tend to overlook the importance of soil to the health of their plants and their long-term success as plant parents. We often hear “Oh, I kill all my indoor plants!” or “I didn’t know these plants were supposed to flower,” which is honestly what made us start this business in the first place. It’s not their fault! Nearly all soil mixes on the market—even “specialty” aroid, tropical, succulent, or cactus soils—are predominantly composed of peat moss, which makes it too easy to accidentally overwater your plants and also creates an ideal habitat for pests like fungus gnats. So, guiding friends and strangers alike toward a greener thumb through smarter soils is incredibly satisfying!

Next steps for you/your company?

Our big recent news is that we have officially landed on mid-August to commit full-time to Sol Soils. We moved to the warehouse in December based on strong intuition and a bit of a gamble that we had something truly viable as a business with Sol Soils. By mid-January ,when we won our cool product award for 2023 at TPIE, we were able to push our customer base high enough to start these conversations around going all-in. Without the warehouse we’d be out of luck trying to run this business from our small, disjointed prior space, so we are really excited about how quickly we have gotten to where we are today. We’ve recently started working with larger national distributors and are in talks with others to start distribution in the fall of 2023. That means we’re going to need to rack out our warehouse space soon to support the growing volume, which is an exciting milestone for us! We have a really busy summer/fall of travel with Cultivate in Ohio, Garden Center Conference Expo here in Minneapolis, Farwest in Portland, and then in-person vendor open houses for the big distributors pretty much every week for another month or two bouncing all over the US.

One more thing!

Sol Soils proudly partners with One Tree Planted, a global non-profit on a mission to help reverse the massive detrimental effects of deforestation. “For every bag of soil sold, we plant a tree.” Each quarter they engage with their Instagram following to decide which specific project and part of the world our donations will support.

Shop Sol Soils at Tonkadale!

Sidecar Ceramics

Katie Ferguson


How did you get started?

I’m originally from rural Wisconsin. I lived on a family dairy farm until I was twelve, then spent my teen years in Alexandria, MN before moving to Minneapolis to attend college in 2010. I’ve lived here ever since.

I took my first ceramics class in high school and was pretty lousy at it. Then while getting my BFA, I tried my hand at ceramics again. My professor, Kirk Freeman, a working potter himself and excellent teacher, showed me the limitless possibilities of clay. I felt the world of art and function collide. Needless to say, I was hooked. I took the leap to full time potter just a year and a half ago. At that time, I said goodbye to my full-time job at Continental Clay and I’ve been making pots for what feels like nonstop ever since.

Grief has informed much of my journey. I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer in the fall of 2013. She was an amazing supporter of me, my art education, and always cheered me on through each step. Losing her was my greatest set back. With my foundation gone, it was difficult for me to believe I had what it took to build a business from the ground up. In 2017, I lost my best friend and husband, Joey. This made me question my next steps. This loss lit a fire. I know Joey would be prouder of me than anyone, seeing me finally go for it. I bought the first pottery wheel I could call my very own in 2018.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find so many things inspiring, anything from crop fields, patterns in natures, and textures, to high fashion and architecture. I find myself mesmerized by the colors and shapes in vintage barware and retro wallpaper designs. My current collection is primarily inspired by those colors and patterns. As a potter, returning to the earth tones is my first instinct. I’ve been floundering in that sea of colors for years. Neutrals feel safe and familiar, but these cheerful, encouraging colors are exactly what feel like me, right now.

Next steps for you?

More holiday sales and pop-up markets. New styles and colors are always in the works! Long term, I’m working on a collection of larger pieces and manifesting a gallery show for 2023.

Shop Sidecar at Tonkadale!

With beautifully crafted, outstanding product, no shipping, less waste in packaging, and sustainable production, we are nothing less than thrilled to feature local wares for your greenhouse home. Just add plants!