Who better to talk tea, biscuits, and business with than entrepreneurial maker of mugs Emma Bridgewater? Ceramicist and business owner Emma started her company in 1985 when she couldn't find a fitting present for her mum so decided to make something herself. Today her colourful and quirky designs can be spotted in kitchen dressers up and down the country - including ours! Emma is hugely inspiring for a small business like us so we couldn't wait to sit down at the kitchen table with her and find out what inspires her.
Let’s set the scene: describe your perfect coffee or tea moment at home.
Jaffa Cake - the perfect companion to a cup of tea. I really enjoy having a lot of mugs to choose from. My favourite tends to change, and at the moment I find myself reaching for the Slinky whippet.
Emma Bridgewater Slinky mug
What does the kitchen table mean to you? What role does it play in your home and/or business life?
The kitchen seems to be where we all spend the most time - cooking, eating, opening the post and chatting. My mother’s kitchen was always a noisy hive of activity and I like mine best when that feeling prevails. The day starts quietly, usually me battling with my new laptop but I like it best in the evenings when there aren’t enough places at the table and we all have to squeeze up.
Central to your company is the idea of making everyday life a little bit nicer. What three things could you not live without?
A replenishing pile of novels, an arthouse cinema and a cosy sofa.
Who or what inspires you?
The starting point for the business was when I was searching for a gift for my mother, and everything was either too formal or too clunky. That was my eureka moment where I spotted a gap in the market for pottery that reflected the relaxed, colourful, mismatched home I’d grown up in. The idea of my mother’s kitchen and dresser remain an essential part of the design process.
Emma Bridgewater Hen on Nest set
Our designs are often inspired by country life, we design with product we would like to have in mind, not trends - our Rise & Shine collection for example was directly inspired by real Bantams such as the ones my mother had when I was child. A particularly generous crop of tomatoes a few years ago inspired a bowl covered in beautifully illustrated tomatoes, which was the beginning of the now much-loved Vegetable Garden collection.
Emma Bridgewater Tomatoes plate
What’s new in the world of Emma Bridgewater and what’s on the agenda for the coming months?
Autumn / Winter is a very busy time for the business. Our Autumn range has just launched, including our Halloween collection, which seems to become more popular every year. I am also looking forward to 7th October when the Christmas collection will be available. Our classic Black Toast pattern has been transformed into Gold Toast for Christmas, and I can’t wait to see how our customers react. It is always very rewarding to see how our collectors embrace the products and make them their own. On the other hand, I am also steeped into the future, making final changes to our upcoming 2020 Spring collection, and already polishing designs for next winter.
Plate from the Emma Bridgewater Christmas collection
Emma Bridgewater Halloween collection
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
When it comes to business, I think surrounding yourself with experts in the field is essential. Starting or running your own business is not for the fainthearted - a lot of bumps, giant potholes, confusing road signs and frequent use of the AA and RAC. I have been very lucky to work in a place that knows its business, with a lot of very knowledgeable people who could help along the way. Most of the time, I made sure to listen to what they had to say.
Emma Bridgewater in her factory shop