FAIRMONT — People often go to college to extend their education.
College provides a way to broaden horizons and open new doors to the future.
However, sometimes doors open that one would never expect. Fairmont native Maggie Haislip first went to college and got a degree as an English major.
Her love for travel then inspired her to take her education a step further, so she studied Latin American studies and Spanish at West Virginia University.
Two years ago, she went to Mexico to take a class known as politics and culture of Mexico. This was all a part of her capstone class at WVU, and allowed her to study in Mexico.
While in Mexico, Haislip was inspired. Many people in that country design pottery as a way of life, and Haislip fell in love with this art.
She loved it so much that she made a return trip to Mexico on her own and stayed for about four months.
“The second time I went was for the investigation of this pottery,” Haislip said. “I wanted to see if it was reasonable to bring the pottery back and sell it in the United States.”
Haislip was determined to help the people in this little town in Mexico. The town where the pottery is made is a little place known as known as San Bartolo Coyotepec, which is about 20 miles outside of the main city of Oaxaca.
“For a while I played with the idea of buying them a laptop so they could start their own business, but it just wasn’t feasible,” Haislip said.
She quickly learned that Internet and technology were not a part of their culture, so she decided to ship the pottery back here to Fairmont and sell it in the United States.
Now her mother’s home is filled with different pieces of art that just sparkle in beauty. Haislip wants to take the money she makes from selling the pottery to help further education for children in Mexico.
“(Funds) will go toward any educational resources that the community decides they want,” Haislip said. “I thought some of the funds could go toward buying books and uniforms, and down the road I would like to set up scholarship funds so the kids can go to college in Mexico.”
Haislip shipped about 35 pieces of pottery to Fairmont from her last trip, which was no easy task due to shipping costs, and of course a few of the pieces broke through the commute.
She got the money to buy and ship the pottery by raising more than $1,000 selling cupcakes at a restaurant in Bridgeport that was owned by her brother. She plans on returning to Mexico in November and this time wants to bring back even more pottery. She said this time she will fill up a shipping crate to make the process a little smoother.
Haislip loves traveling, but there is something about Mexico that just seems to captivate her.
“I love the country so much. I’ve been to other countries, but there’s something about Mexico that draws me back,” Haislip said.
If someone asks Haislip about how much it means to her to help the people in Mexico, she certainly won’t take an ounce of credit. In fact, all she can think about is how grateful she is for the way they’ve changed her life.
“They have given me so much that this is a way to interact with them and get a peek into their culture. So they’ve given me a gift,” Haislip said.
Although she keeps all of the pottery at her mother’s home in Fairmont, Haislip currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her goal is to have a booth at the Strip District in Pittsburgh by next summer to sell some of the pottery there.
Not only does she appreciate the hard work that people in Mexico put into making this handmade pottery, but she has a deep appreciation for the piece of art itself.
“I think it’s really unique. It’s got a modern look to it that I think is really unique, but once you learn about the pottery, you realize it comes from a long line of history,” Haislip said.
To this day Haislip is greatful for the professors she had at WVU who helped inspire this dream. She is often amazed at how one class inspired a lifetime goal.
The goal is that this business becomes so successful that it is a full-time career.
“Ultimately I would like to live (in Mexico) half the year and here (in the United States) half the year, but that would have to be long down the road once the business is successful,” Haislip said.
On June 13, she will hold an open-house event here in Fairmont to sell the pottery. There will also be
Mexican cuisine on hand for people to come out and enjoy.
Anyone is invited out to this event to buy some pottery and learn more about Haislip’s journey and her future goals. She has started a Facebook page so that anyone wanting more details can visit facebook.com/OaxacanPotCo, or people can email Haislip at [email protected]
Email Angelee Wiley at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @AWileyTWV.