Melinda Curren peered over one of Shades of Brown’s handmade mugs on the October 2012 cover of TulsaPeople. Nearly a decade later, the coffee shop owner still makes the ceramic mugs with her mother, artist Marcia Borum. The pair meet twice a week to throw mugs, firing 40-60 every two to three months in Curren’s backyard kiln.
Curren was 25 when she opened Shades in 2004 at 3302 S. Peoria Ave. “I was very lucky to have grabbed that corner spot because it’s been really good for me,” she says.
Initially Curren hired Linda Coward at Brookside Pottery to make the shop’s mugs. “Then we learned from her and took over,” Curren says.
At some point the vessels became iconic, and for 15 years Shades has sold them to customers. The mugs join other locally made products on Shades’ retail wall. “It started with selling art,” Curren reflects. “Then it grew into different people I would meet and go, ‘Oh, you make jewelry. Oh, you make soap. I’ll sell it at the shop.’ I just wanted to keep things local and to try and support other artists or makers.”
Lately Curren has been using her artistic side to help husband Zach design an expansion of his sandwich shop, Trenchers Delicatessen, at 2602 S. Harvard Ave. In June the deli will unveil a full bar along with breakfast and dinner menus to accompany its popular lunch offerings.
Though incredibly busy, the pair are quite a team in the Tulsa food scene.
“I get his paninis to sell and his coffee cake, muffins, scones and cookies,” she says. “I supply his coffee, teas and anything else that I can, and so we help each other.” Curren also is making Trenchers’ mugs.