Featured Alumni: Sarah Vogel


Courtesy photo

Fancy lattes are just one of the items on the menu at the Clay Cup, owned and operated by 2009 B-A grad Sarah Vogel.

Corbin Nale, Staff writer

Sarah Vogel is opening her coffee and art shop in the heart of Downtown Altoona. (Courtesy photo)

How would you like to be able to make a cup that looks like a jacket?

How about drinking a warm, creamy espresso and eating a freshly baked blueberry muffin while doing so?

Courtesy photo
Sarah, shown her with husband Jeremy, has dreamed of opening a place like The Clay Cup for years.

Well you will  be able to do all of that at The Clay Cup, a new business that is a mixture of art and coffee, where you can be creative and have a drink of java.

The Clay Cup is opening later this month in Altoona, and the owner is 2009 B-A grad Sarah (Garber) Vogel.

Sarah had a dream of coffee and art, and she made it a reality last year when she bought the property that will soon be a hot spot for all.

“I had looked into the building that is currently The Clay Cup about five years ago, but there was no way for me to acquire it,” said Sarah. “After purchasing Playtime Pottery in 2015 … I began to think back on my original dream of coffee and art.”

The Clay Cup will be opening March 20. It will host multiple classes like clay hand-building, water color, and drawing, and according to Sarah there will definitely be more art classes arising as time goes on.

I started to realize that entrepreneurship and art were truly where my heart was.

— Sarah Vogel

Sarah has a great story to tell about how she got to the place she’s at now, doing what she loves. Sarah’s grandmother was a professional artist as a billboard painter. When she was growing up she always enjoyed art.

“But I didn’t get serious about it until my senior year,” she said.

Her first job was at Trader Joes making handmade signs. She was in charge of designing, drawing, and hand lettering them.

Before that she was in college to become a mechanical engineer.

“I had wanted to be a mechanical engineer for most of my life, until senior year when we started researching careers. I started to realize that entrepreneurship and art were truly where my heart was,” Sarah said. “At the time, I remember thinking it would be neat to have a cafe with an art studio, but I had no idea of how it would play out.”

Despite earning a 4.0 in college, she dropped out to continue her life with business and art. She had multiple jobs before The Clay Cup, including a photography business, co-ownership of a cleaning company, and a as professional sign artist. After purchasing Playtime Pottery, Sarah quadrupled its business by adding canvas painting and a wide variety of events.

But it all came back to The Clay Cup.

“I began to think back to my original dream of coffee and art,” she said.

For Sarah, the timing was perfect, with Penn State Altoona flooding Downtown Altoona with undergrads and many new and exciting businesses popping up there.

“So I went for it!” she said.

Sarah enjoyed her time at B-A.

“I look back on it often. The class of 2009 was an incredible group of people to be surrounded by,” said Sarah, who only has nice words about the people that were in her class: intelligent, innovative, and comical. On top of that, some of Sarah’s teacher-student relationships have developed into wonderful friendships over the years.

The Clay Cup will be serving an arrangement of food, selling baked goods like muffins, scones, bagels, and much more. They will even be serving gluten and dairy-free items.

There are also plans to have live musicians occasionally, and local artisans to teach classes.

The Blueprint will be there March 20 reporting live from the grand opening.

Just think, grabbing a cup of coffee and painting your own pottery at the same time … ingenious.