Small Business Spotlight: Smiling Fish Designs | Connecticut News
ENFIELD, CT (WFSB) – Christmas may be over, but one local artist is keeping the spirit alive. Kassie Huhtanen started Smiling Fish Designs back in 2009 after she retired.
“The fish were important because when I was learning to throw pottery on the wheel, I could not center,” said Huhtanen. “So, I was just playing at my wheel one day and I started making these little fish, and because of my job that I used to do, I didn’t want to use my name, so Smiling Fish came about. And it kind of took off from there…and I’ve made mugs, big fish, little fish, garden fish, all different things and then from there I thought, well people are going to get sick of the fish. So, I started doing pots with purpose.”
Her small business has only grown from there, but not without years of ups and downs.
“I took care of my dad, my dad was terminally ill, I lost him in 2014. Around the same time my dad was diagnosed, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” said Huhtanen.
She lost her mom in January of the past year.
“I’m in that next chapter as far as being a caregiver. And now, my parents are at peace. Now the next journey is how I’m going to develop the business even further.”
Huhtanen makes things that matter. Pieces that she hopes others will treasure as much as she does, things that bring a sense of nostalgia, like the pots with purpose or ornaments on a tree.
“If people can pull a small barn out and say, ‘oh you know, five years from now on Smiling Fish made this,’ ‘I remember when my son was ba ba ba…’ that’s what it’s all about.”
She makes tiny houses and barns, vases, stoneware trees and pumpkins for the holidays, and can make custom orders, all while she’s leaving her heart in her work.
“It’s something that I enjoy doing. It’s not something that you’re going to get rich, but again there’s different types of wealth in this world and going back to how you are and how you interact with people has nothing to do with your financial value, so a lot of this is really me stepping outside of myself, that people know and really getting into brass tacks of opening your heart and being kind… and that’s what my work is, that’s my whole goal with my work.”
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