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Rising Stars: Meet Alfred Harvey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alfred Harvey. 

Hi Alfred, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Grumpy Rocks® was born in a small art studio in Raleigh, NC called March Hare Gallery. The gallery was open from 2011 to 2015 in the Carter Building in Glenwood south. It was a space my husband, Jose Harvey, and I used to create and sell our artwork. He focused on photography and while I’m a scientist by schooling, I used the space to return to my love of sculpture. I originally focused mainly on crazy monster sculptures that people loved to look at, but few people were brave enough to buy and display them in their homes. One day, instead of making a large monster, I just randomly made a small rock-shaped papier-mache ball and put my eyes on it. I was going to give it a smile, then at the last minute decided that the rock was grumpy for some reason – perhaps he didn’t get his snack, or could only find one sock that morning. To my surprise, it sold while it was still wet. So, I made another – it sold immediately. So, I turned all my efforts into making these grumpy little forms. I was selling them as fast as I could make them – from the studio as well as from art festivals. Eventually, I brought my retired parents into the fold and taught them how to make Grumpy Rocks. We were still having difficulty keeping up with demand and also discovered that it was difficult keeping all the unique designs updated on my websites. So, I reached out and found a company that would help me make casts of my sculptures so we could have a few designs mass-produced. About 8 months later, I had a warehouse full of 7 designs cast in a rock resin and hand-painted – 3 small designs, and 4 larger rocks. I have been selling them on Amazon since 2016 with great success, and now have them in my first brick-and-mortar location – Urban Pothos Houseplant Shop. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The biggest challenge I faced, was trying to navigate having something mass-produced outside the US with vendors I didn’t visit and no initial understanding of importing. Luckily, I found a local company, Border Concepts, who helped me with the process. I would not have been able to get the first ones cast without their guidance and support. The second challenge I faced, was really time management. I wanted to keep my full-time job while creating and selling Grumpy Rocks. Unfortunately, this meant I had to pass up some opportunities to really promote Grumpy Rocks like I wanted to. But despite this, I’ve had a steady growth in sales, or as I like to call it, adoption. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I started out college with the goal of becoming an artist who focused on painting and sculpture. After a year and a half of undergrad, I realized I’d probably have more opportunities if I focused on science instead, so I switched my major. I finished college with two bachelor’s degrees in the sciences, and two more master’s degrees in economics and business, but always felt a drawback to art/sculpture. Luckily, I was able to return to art later in life and just do it for enjoyment instead of worrying about paying bills from my work. I think this gave me the freedom to make pieces that I liked, versus focusing on fads and stressing over pieces that didn’t sell right away. I don’t think Grumpy Rocks would have been born if I was worried about selling art – it seemed like such a silly concept that only I would enjoy – sort of like a bad “dad joke.” Luckily, thousands of others have appreciated my humor as well. 

How can people work with you, collaborate with you, or support you?
People can view our products online on Amazon. Those buying in the Raleigh area get usually get their products hand-delivered in a day or two. Alternatively, visit Urban Pothos Houseplant Shop at 714 W Peace St and see them in person. 

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