It all began in 1999, when Alicia Toal contacted her husband DJ about her bisque supplier. Alicia had recently acquired a Paint Your Own Pottery Studio and was having trouble finding the selection and service she was looking for. DJ, who owned an industrial equipment company at the time, decided to do a little research. After communicating back and forth via fax, DJ decided to purchase his first container from an Italian ceramics manufacturer.
With a container full of bisque and little else, DJ set up shop in the barn on his property. From there, DJ hired his first employee, Sherry, (who worked for BI for 13 years!) and shuttled around the Carolinas selling bisque from Rubbermaid containers out of his car. As interest began to mount, DJ and Sherry decided to attend their first CCSA Convention in the summer of 2000. The two had no idea what to expect as they drove a trailer full of 25 shapes down to Florida (Last year, we took over 700 shapes!) After receiving a warm welcome at Convention, Bisque Imports started to take off.
While their primary focus remained on kitchenware and utility items, BI's designs began to shift as they developed more figurines and kid items. In 2006, Bisque Imports announced their venture into the exciting world of Warm Glass. And in 2007, they hosted their first educational event, CeramaJam.
With these new changes, DJ and the BI Crew committed to educating and inspiring their customers like never before. To this day, BI remains committed to education through events like CeramaJam, CeramaJam On the Road, Glass-O-Rama, Glass-O-Rama+, and BI Amplify.
BI had officially outgrown the barn by 2001. The crew made the move to Belmont, where they eventually landed at a historic textile mill in 2004. With over 80,000 square feet of office and warehouse space, DJ wasn't sure if they'd ever fill up the mill. By 2009, the space was completely full, and they continued to painstakingly restore and improve the building until 2013. The restoration of the warehouse has been a core chapter of Bisque Imports' journey.
By 2013, Bisque Imports had run out of space in the Majestic textile mill. In October, the crew moved on to an even bigger mill, the old Stowe Spinning building. The process of restoring this mill has already seen dramatic improvements, but the best is yet to come! For more information on the history of the current mill, click here!
Now over twenty employees help to keep the company running smoothly, and the dedication and determination from those early days in the barn remains unchanged. BI will never stop improving upon their existing systems to foster a sustainable atmosphere, company, and industry. Bisque Imports' journey from that first container of Italian bisque to the booming organization it is today is truly only the beginning.