Ev­ery­one’s favourite pot­ter EMMA BRIDGEWATER

‘Make sure that peo­ple want, re­ally want, what you have to sell’

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Good Advice -

What sparked the idea?

I was strug­gling to find a cup and saucer for my mother’s birth­day. Ev­ery­thing was too for­mal or too clunky or just didn’t seem right. I re­alised I’d found a gap in the mar­ket – pot­tery for a re­laxed, colour­ful mis­matched life­style. I knew I wanted to start a busi­ness and this was my eu­reka mo­ment. To this day, our de­sign process cen­tres around cre­at­ing prod­ucts that we would like to see in our own homes.

How did you get started?

I sold some very early pieces in the Ju­bilee Mar­ket in Covent Gar­den, Lon­don. They went quickly, which made me re­alise I was on to some­thing.

What’s been the toughest chal­lenge?

I was re­solved to stay in Stafford­shire and keep old tech­niques alive. Labour costs can be higher, but there are many prac­ti­cal ad­van­tages to mak­ing close to your mar­ket.

What are your golden rules?

Make sure that peo­ple want, re­ally want, what you have to sell. Then sur­round your­self with ex­perts. Start­ing or run­ning your own busi­ness is not for the faint-hearted.

And the se­cret of your suc­cess?

Lis­ten­ing care­fully to cus­tomers. I think you can tell quickly if your prod­uct is res­onat­ing. Our busi­ness is about our cus­tomers. It’s about their kitchens and their lives. Some­times a de­sign we thought would be a re­sound­ing suc­cess doesn’t de­liver the re­sults we ex­pected, and we learn to move for­ward to the next thing. I have been very lucky to work in a place that knows its busi­ness – set­ting up in Stoke-on-trent at the heart of the pot­tery in­dus­try proved the per­fect learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment for me.

What ad­vice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t lis­ten to ad­vice too much! If I’d lis­tened to any sen­si­ble peo­ple, I would have aban­doned my plans early on. Ev­ery­one said, ‘Don’t go into man­u­fac­tur­ing, don’t stay in Stoke-on-trent – ev­ery­one is go­ing abroad.’ Had we not de­cided to man­u­fac­ture here in the UK, it would have been a real tragedy.

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