Spotlight on Business: New career direction for first-time business owner

Sister Jessie Amell (left) and Mom Sandra McDonald
Sister Jessie Amell (left) and Mom Sandra McDonald help new business owner Gene Amell at the official opening of Simply Ceramics+. Photo credit: Sally Smith
Posted on: March 21, 2019

There’s a new ‘pot’ store in town — hmm…that’s ‘pot’tery store.

Gene Amell’s store — Simply Ceramics+ — opened with a ribbon-cutting, and cake and coffee for customers.

The front half of the small space was crowded with curious visitors and well-wishers, while the back was filled with shelves of bisque figures waiting to be painted.

Amell, relatively new to Smiths Falls, has been open a month and candidly admits he knows little about pottery and ceramics but has a strong back-up crew, his mother and sister, helping him. He also says he’s a lifelong learner (and licensed teacher) having been in the education business for close to 30 years teaching in many northern fly-in communities.

His family is from Prescott and his mother and sister owned a business there (Ceramics+) for over 20 years. After returning south, he convinced his mom to help him with his own business in Smiths Falls — his initial aspiration was to start a real pot store through the pot lottery but didn’t meet the “parameters” — so a pottery store it became.

His mother, Sandra McDonald, closed her shop along the St. Lawrence and is now available on a daily basis to help Amell; in other words, it’s become a family business.

With his strong teaching background, Amell’s intent is to take his ceramics into schools around town; he says he knows the education curriculum and can link what teachers do in art classes with painting ceramics.

As a first-time business owner, he learns something new every day and says, with a grin, “I do what my Mom tells me.” Painting classes are scheduled Monday from 7 to 9 p.m.; students can use Amell’s paints and brushes but have to “buy the bisque”, which, once painted is fired in kilns.For information, give the store a call at 613-402-8066, email him at, or visit his facebook page. The store is located at 18 Russell Street E in Smiths Falls.

Article by Sally Smith