Minneapolis-Made & Woman-Owned
Most associate luxurious, artisan tile with Italy, Mexico and Morocco, but Mercury Mosaics sources and produces handmade tile right here in the U.S. While working two waitressing jobs as a full-time student at the University of Minnesota back in 1999, Mercedes Austin began laying the foundation of her own business. “Mercury Mosaics came to be simply from a drive to make my day job related to art,” she told FCW. “If I was going to be hustling this much, I wanted to be building something that I could be proud of.”
What was a small art studio in 2002 is now a million-dollar tile manufacturer, supplying installs for the likes of Disney World and Lululemon. Today, Mercury Mosaics operates out of a 15,000 square foot factory in the art district of Minneapolis. Eighteen of the company’s 32 employees hand-cut, hand-paint and handglaze roughly 2,700 square feet of tile monthly, equating to about 35,000 square feet of product a year.
“Minneapolis is a major hub in the U.S. with an abundance of creative talent,” said Austin. “The city isn’t
over-congested, we’re within 12 miles of several of our suppliers. Our city has that humble, Midwestern work
ethic and we’re in an arts destination. I was also born in South Minneapolis just a block off Lake Street; part of my heart belongs to this city.”
In addition to Minnesota, Mercury Mosaics’ primary suppliers are located in Indiana, Oregon and California. And, the company is growing. Austin shared a second production facility is underway in Wadena, Minn., and set to open sometime between the end of this year and the first quarter of 2021.
Still, Mercury Mosaics is truly handmade at every stage of the production process, from color application to packaging and shipping. “The benefit of working primarily by hand allows us to connect with the materials that are our craft. The subtle irregularities inherent when tile is made by hand truly shows you an artisan was present. I’ve literally seen machine-made tile with ‘irregularities,’ however, since it’s a machine you see the ‘exact irregularity’ repeated every few tiles, which isn’t authentic,” she noted. “Our sweet spot is in the layout where all hand-selections of tiles are assembled by the discerning eye and instincts of an artisan.”
It’s this individual, artistic attention to detail that truly make Mercury Mosaics unique. Indeed, saturated colors, geometric patterns and custom layouts are what the company has become known for — functional works of art.
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