Mosaic of possibilities as Tucson school takes over Santa Theresa Tile Works

Mosaic of possibilities as Tucson school takes over Santa Theresa Tile Works

If you haven’t caught wind of the news, tile business Santa Theresa Tile Works will be under new ownership come July.

Owner Susan Gamble is gifting the company’s assets to Imago Dei Middle School — a private school for low-income families. Through charitable donations to the school, students don’t have to pay for tuition. The school is the only of its kind in the state.

To celebrate the business transition, the tile company will hold a celebration from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 1. The event will act as an open house and will provide visitors with information on both Santa Theresa Tile Works and Imago Dei Middle School.

The day is set to include music, snacks and mosaic projects for visitors to work on.

When Imago Dei takes over, nearly everything about the company will stay the same — all employees and artists will remain with the business. Showroom and workshop hours will also remain the same.

“Susan has built an incredible following and has really helped shape the aesthetic of Tucson,” said Cameron Taylor, Imago Dei’s director of graduate support and enrichment. “It’s hard to go anywhere in Tucson and not see her work. The design, the style, the colors — we don’t want to lose any of that.”

Gamble will also continue to be involved, though she will no longer take part in the bulk of decision-making and will no longer run the business.

She said she is excited about the new energy to be brought to the company and that she’s eager to “use the business and the respective communities of the two organizations to build something larger than their parts.”

“The idea that Santa Theresa can maintain its heart and grow into something more at the same time is really satisfying,” Gamble said.

She also said that she hopes the school can benefit from future revenue that Santa Theresa Tile Works can provide.

“If the business can be a source of funding, that would be an incredible boon to boot,” she said. “Being able to possibly help support the school financially was really attractive to me when I began to think about what I wanted to do with the business.”

Other than the benefit of earning potential revenue, many Imago Dei students are already taking classes with the tile company. The school also hopes to start a student internship program with Santa Theresa Tile Works.

“Ultimately, we want to see the company become a part of our community in general,” Taylor said.

Gloria Knott is a University of Arizona journalism student who apprenticed at the Star.

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