Meet Sequoyah Johnson, the Black Ceramic Goddess Behind The Coy Collection

Over the last couple of years, small business ceramics have really begun building a following on Instagram and making their mark in the home and kitchen world. One of those small businesses is The Coy Collection.

You may have heard about The Coy Collection and the smiley face mugs that have made their way around Instagram (and the country) by brightening up the days of celebrities like Jennifer Love Hewitt and everyday coffee drinkers and mug collectors like myself. The artist behind the smile is Sequoyah Johnson — an Austin, TX-based ceramist. With now over 27 thousand followers on Instagram and complete sell-outs within 10 minutes of launching new pieces, it's safe to say that Johnson and The Coy Collection are thriving.

"It's surreal and I'm happy as hell to be here, that's for sure!" Johnson told POPSUGAR. "I love being able to inspire and elevate the ceramic space as a Black woman. It feels like I am a small piece to a large puzzle, but it feels really good to be able to share universal qualities [like] joy, love, and self-worth with my little corner of the internet."

Not only has she inspired Black artists around the world, but she's also bringing joy to hundreds of homes with her art. While mugs are by far the most popular, she also creates cups, vases, plant pots, and magnets. While the online shop is currently closed between releases, check back frequently so you can grab a piece (or five) during the next release.

Keep reading to learn more about Johnson and The Coy Collection ahead.

The Smile Mug

The Coy Collection began from Johnson's need to fill a creative void and wanting to challenge the rhetoric of the "starving artist." She took it upon herself to create a safe space to find herself as an artist. And eventually . . . the smile mug was born.

Originally, the smiley face was just the easiest and most simple way to spark joy in people's lives, but Johnson quickly realized that it was much more than just reminding people to smile. It was something she deeply connected with her experiences teaching elementary and middle school art. "My pieces represent the smiley stickers we don't often receive as adults," she told POPSUGAR. "I want my work to give permission and allow the owner a chance to take a nostalgic ride and find comfort in knowing amidst the chaos that they are doing a good job! It's the teacher in me to cheer everyone on. This makes my inner child VERY happy!"

The Coy Collection Is Growing

2020 was the year that The Coy Collection really grew and blossomed into the successful, badass, overflowing-with-happiness business it is today. Johnson has one assistant that helps with the production of her pieces, but her business is, in fact, small. It takes about two to three weeks to produce one batch of 40-50 pieces, and according to Johnson, "on average 5-10 pieces have flaws ranging from cracks, rough spots, pinholing, dropping things - the list goes on." In other words . . . it's hard work doing what she does. But each time she has a line of people waiting to purchase her work.

"Sometimes it's hard, but I will say, everything I produce I am proud of," she said. "Genuine happiness is radiating through the work so that is what we love to continue to nurture as The Coy Collection continues to grow!"

Small Batch Ceramics

The Coy Collection is a small batch ceramic shop. This means that only a few items are available at a time because it's just Coy and her assistant making it all happen for drops every month or two. But let me tell you — when the next shop update is announced, set those reminder alarms, because when drop day comes, it sells out like *that*. The record time for a complete sell-out has been 10 minutes — 10 minutes for three months of work! The "Ceramic Goddess" title truly has been earned. "It is very crazy, but also so endearing and I'm honestly incredibly grateful that I get to do this for a living."

Handmade Collector's Items

Occasionally, Johnson releases special ceramic pieces fitting to the time of year. Valentine's Day and even Halloween have gotten special mugs for the holiday. In a short time, her work has become true collector's items.

New things Are Coming to The Coy Collection

As things continue to ramp up for The Coy Collection, Johnson is focusing more on planning and organizing everything for upcoming collections. All home and kitchen decor-obsessed people can get excited because there are new colors and new icons in store! Smilies, rainbow smilies, cow print, and holographic designs are staples, but I'm so excited to see what's to come. Remember to check The Coy Collection's Instagram for shop updates and restocks!