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Like hands that carefully mold soft, spinning clay into beautiful pottery, the women behind Firehouse Pottery & Arts seek to embrace the Taneytown community by bringing people together through art.

Mother-daughter duo Melody Schell and Harmony Autry opened their business at 115 E. Baltimore St. in February, and six months later, received special recognition from the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, & Women Business Affairs. Autry then said Firehouse is “way, way more than art" and “a place that everyone can come to and feel safe.”

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At Firehouse, customers can create pottery on a wheel, paint pottery or canvases, and stain or fuse glass, according to its website. Customers can walk in and begin a project or choose to partake in a group class.

One of the ways Firehouse strives to unite the community is by offering events, such as the “Harry Potter” themed event it hosted Sept. 21. Families gathered to create magically-inspired crafts and partake in trivia.

The Ready, Set, GROW! Procurement Connections Workshop at Carroll Community College Bollinger Family Conference Center. Outstanding small business owners were recognized with the presentation of Governor’s Citations Tuesday August 20, 2019. (Left to Right) Dr. James Ball, President Carroll Community College, Melody Schell and Harmony Autry, Co-Owners – Firehouse Pottery & Arts, and Jimmy Rhee, Special Secretary Governor's Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs.
The Ready, Set, GROW! Procurement Connections Workshop at Carroll Community College Bollinger Family Conference Center. Outstanding small business owners were recognized with the presentation of Governor’s Citations Tuesday August 20, 2019. (Left to Right) Dr. James Ball, President Carroll Community College, Melody Schell and Harmony Autry, Co-Owners – Firehouse Pottery & Arts, and Jimmy Rhee, Special Secretary Governor's Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Carroll County Times)

“Community is big for us,” Autry said in an interview. “My mom and I’s motto was basically to have everybody that comes in become family.”

They’ve also had events inspired by “Game of Thrones," “The Little Mermaid,” and a Mother’s Day tea — all while supporting other local businesses. Autry said they make a point to connect with their neighbors, like when they used Stone House Cakery and Cafe for catering and called upon Joessa’s to supply tea.

With all of this activity going on, the most important takeaway for Autry is creating a space where people feel like they won’t be judged.

“I can’t tell you how many times I hear the phrase, ‘Well, I’m not an artist.’ Art is left up to the eye of the beholder. It truly is,” Autry said.

The business’s connection to people is the most important part of what they do, Autry said, which is why they closed the shop’s doors in Mount Airy on Dec. 31 and relocated to Taneytown.

“I live in Taneytown. I absolutely love it here,” Autry said.

She and her mother originally bought the business from its previous owner in January 2018, but after a year, the duo decided they wanted to bring Firehouse to Taneytown.

Autry, a New Windsor native, lives in Taneytown with her husband Jerry and three children, 16-year-old Caymen, 5-year-old Piper, and 2-year-old Mia. Having a high school student, Autry wanted to run a business that would be an outlet for teens especially.

“I saw an opportunity, to give the kids, the high schoolers, and other kids of all ages really, a safe place, a place to come where they can just hang out,” Autry said. “They can be themselves. There’s no criticism, there’s no judging.”

They also get a lot of regulars who are senior citizens, Autry said, and they love to chat while they work on projects.

Firehouse has collaborated with local groups such as Boys & Girls Club in Westminster, New Beginnings Christian Learning Center, Northwest Middle School Parent Teacher Organization, Carroll Vista, and others.

As for expanding the business, Autry hopes one day they can form a nonprofit out of Firehouse, but she doesn’t have any plans to open more stores.

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“We don’t want to franchise. We want it to stay, basically me and my mom ran and run like we want it as a family,” Autry said. “I just want to brand who we are, what we do, for the generations to come.”

The next generation to run the business may not be far behind. Autry’s daughter, Piper, loves coming to Firehouse and working on projects, she said.

“My daughter’s in here painting 24/7,” Autry said.

Schell described the business as a “family affair.”

“Most days, there’s four generations in here,” Schell said.

While Autry’s youngest children paint and color, Caymen runs the cash register, Autry and Schell work with customers, and Schell’s mother, 82-year-old Martha, works on art projects, Schell said. Jerry, along with Schell’s husband Sam, also help wherever they can, she said.

Schell typically handles inventory, ordering materials, and assists in organizing events, while Autry’s focus is more on the creation of art.

“I love working with my mom,” Autry said. “We’re so different that we can bounce ideas off of each other.”

“Harmony and I have been best friends for a long time,” Schell said.

Firehouse Pottery & Arts is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The business is closed Tuesdays.

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