Hello everyone! My name is Chentell Shannon, I am the Founder & Lead Designer of Convivial. I am so proud of all of the work that has gone into growing and refining Convivial into the company it is today and am truly honored to share my story with you all.
I always like to begin describing myself as a Kansas City enthusiast, however I am not originally from Kansas or Missouri. I was born and raised in Hawaii, on the island of Maui and my family is mainly from sunny California. I come from a humble family, mother is an accountant and father is a jack of all trades, mainly having worked in hospitality.
I was first introduced to ceramics as a freshman entering highschool. My older sister, Nitasha, was taking a sculpture class, and being the quintessential younger sister that I was - thinking she was the coolest person in the world - knew I must follow in her footsteps and sign up for ceramics as well. After taking the first class, I was mesmerized. I was drawn to the therapeutic, meditative qualities of working with clay and it captivated me, drawing me to take as many classes as I could throughout my time in school.
At the time, culturally, it was very standard for a career in the arts to be discouraged, as there were faint prospects of actually being able to find craft work, much less build a career in a craft. Being the quiet, independent, challenger that I am, I pressed forward and decided to take one step at a time to see if society was right OR see if I could in fact, build a career for myself and others in the arts.
I attended a small liberal arts school located in a suburb outside of Chicago at which I completed an interdisciplinary degree in Community Art, Urban Studies and Ceramics. As a senior I had a clear vision that I wanted to design, create and sell ceramic wares and that I wanted to build a business that would allow others creatives the opportunity to work with their hands.
As a senior I met my now husband, Stephen Shannon, who was born and raised in Overland Park, Kansas. Stephen knew the vision I had to start Convivial and convinced me that Kansas City, being a city that was known for being relentlessly proud and supportive of entrepreneurs and artists, would be the perfect place for me to start and build Convivial. I took his word, moved to Kansas City in 2013 and began designing our first line of wares. By 2014 I had set up a company name, a humble studio space and began laying the groundwork for Convivial to become the design and manufacturing company it is today.
Through the life of the company, I have had the joy of working every role - from design to production to fulfillment - learning each process, building each position and refining every role. In 2020 we opened our first retail concept Verdant, which launched Convivial’s growth from a 8 person team to a 25 person company. My role now, though it continues to evolve, is mainly overseeing the vision, budget and creative direction for both Convivial and Verdant. I view my role as an opportunity to continue my initial vision for Convivial - to design handmade wares, to serve our customers in ensuring our products are accessible and working tirelessly to offer career opportunities for creatives.
Thank you for following along on this journey!
It's an honor to share it with you all.