College students open coffee shop and pottery studio near University of Memphis

Young entrepreneurs Micah Dempsey and Christopher Galbreath, who learned how to make pottery while in high school at Harding Academy, have turned their passion into a successful business. After opening a pop-up shop earlier this year inside Minglewood Hall, the pair are moving the business to a permanent spot on the Highland Strip near the University of Memphis.

With the help of an entrepreneurship class on the Lipscomb University campus, Dempsey and Galbreath began their pottery business by renting a storage unit in Nashville late last year.

“We started working in that storage unit, made some social media accounts and started growing our brand on campus,” explained Dempsey.

By this summer, they opened up the pop-up shop at Minglewood Hall to test their business model.

“Our biggest motivation and our biggest passion is we love making things,” said Dempsey. “We started making all of our furniture. All of the mugs that we serve coffee out of we make in-house, along with all of the plates and bowls.”

Dempsey and Galbreath have transferred to the University of Memphis, where they plan to finish out their college coursework.

The new location will feature artisan coffee from J. Brooks served in handcrafted mugs.

“The biggest reason we chose to move to the U of M area was because of the traffic,” said Galbreath. “When it came down to looking at the future and how we were going to be a sustainable longterm business, the only thing that made sense was to move to a high-traffic location. Being university students ourselves, it only made sense to bring our two worlds together.”

The nearly 2,800-square-foot layout of the new space at Loeb Properties’ Highland Strip will be divided into two halves, with a studio with retail and gallery space in the back and a coffee house in the front. The coffee house will feature a full range of coffee beverages with artisan coffee from local roaster J. Brooks, along with light snacks like bagels and brownies.

The studio will offer a full range of pottery classes, from one-off date night classes to multi-week courses for beginner, intermediate, and advanced potters, and it will also serve as a wholesale production facility supplying pottery to several local businesses and shops.

Belltower Artisans should open at its new location by early October with an all new staff of seven employees.

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Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.