I’m a real sucker for a meet-cute and Catherine and Ethan’s meet is the cutest. The Priest at Saint Thomas hosts a “Tea Time” for college students where they gather to read poetry, pray, get to know each other, and obviously, drink tea. Ethan was a student at Grand Rapids Community College at the time. He was already seated in the room with some friends when Catherine arrived. She saw him, across the room, teacup in hand. He spoke to her first, and she said it was love at first sight. 

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Catherine Lietz was a student at Aquinas College when she and Ethan met. They married in August of 2019. After graduating, she worked as the Community Manager for a coworking space. She also created pottery out of her home in the evening. Four months later, she had to ask her boss if she could cut her hours down to part-time due to her pottery business taking off so rapidly. 

In March 2020, she quit her job and went full-time doing pottery. Then the pandemic hit. She remembered thinking, “This is crazy. No one is going to purchase pottery when a pandemic is happening. But then so many orders came through and it hasn’t slowed down.” She expressed so much gratitude. 

Nazareth Pottery makes functional pottery; tea and coffee cups, bowls, plates, etc. “I try to make pottery everyone can enjoy but each piece has a religious theme. I pull from my heart and where I am in my faith journey.”

Ethan graduated from college in December and is working in the business more now. They outgrew their original studio space and are in the process of moving into a live/ work space. I asked Catherine what inspired her to become an artist. “My grandmother was an artist and I saw all this artwork she did in her young adult years but she never kept it up. I wish she would have been able to. So I knew I wanted to be able to create.”

When they are not working in the pottery studio, the couple likes to hang out with friends, be outside, go hiking, and go on walks with their three dogs. Rock climbing is their greatest hobby although they haven’t been able to hit up the gym as much and they’d like.

They have gone through many changes in the past year. The day Michigan announced a “Stay Home” order due to Covid, Ethan lost his job. He also went 100% online for school. The couple suffered a miscarriage in June then again in March. The Rosalie line of pottery is inspired by their daughter. We spoke for some time about how common and heartbreaking miscarriage is (we see you mamas!). Catherine said, “I can go deep in conversations here at Roots. It can be nitty-gritty and safe. It’s huge to have a place like this in the community. The atmosphere is what brings me back. I will probably run into someone I know while I’m here.”

Go-to roots order: A Cappuccino or a mint green tea latte with oat milk

Book you’d recommend: Nazareth Family Spirituality by Catherine Doherty

Build your favorite meal: Wallaby Stew. Start with a layer of sweet potato fries then put hotdogs in a tomato sauce on top of it. Then top with avocado and cheese. Ethan and I made this all the time in college.

Favorite thing about yourself: I am pretty proud of my work ethic. And I’m proud that I have developed it to the point that I know when to stop. 

Thing or person that can make your day better: We go to mass every evening at 5:15.  No matter how my day is, I cling to that rhythm and consistency.