From clay to art, a Baldwin High School alumna turns her passion into a thriving business

After high school, she went on to college in Illinois and got her degree in ceramics then moved to Missouri.
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 7:05 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 7, 2022 at 7:31 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui native who is now operating a thriving businesses in Missouri credits a lot of her success to her high school art teachers.

Chentell Shannon is sharing what she learned at Baldwin High School with the rest of the world.

“The first thing that made me fall in love with ceramics is how meditative it is,” said Shannon. “I find it very centering, and it kind of creates a little pocket of time, or a little moment, that feels special.”

Shannon graduated from Baldwin High School in 2009. She learned her craft from then-ceramics teacher Wade Hondo.

“She was one of the best AP students that I’ve had,” said Hondo. “The fact that she’s turned out so successful, I’m not surprised.”

After high school, Shannon went on to college in Illinois and got her degree in ceramics. Then she moved to Missouri.

At just 21 years old, she opened Convivial Production — a design and manufacturing company that creates high-quality handmade ceramic wares.

Two years ago, she opened a second business, Verdant, a brick-and-mortar retail storefront that sells ceramics and gifts.

At 30 years old, she now employs 25 people and shares her products with the world.

“I had less than $1,000 in my bank account when I first started. So, it really was bootstrapping from the get-go ... I didn’t come from money, but I did come from a family who was very hardworking,” Shannon said. “So, it just felt very natural to understand what blood, sweat and tears looked like.”

Shannon credits much of her success to her family, Mr. Hondo, and long-time Baldwin High School art teacher Janet Sato.

“She started off really small scale in the garage,” Sato said. “But her aesthetic is so strong and so true and authentic, that I think people just started gravitating.”

Shannon hopes to open a store back home in Hawaii one day.

She also hopes her success story will create inspiration for the next generation of young artists.

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