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A weekly little written something by Julia

  • Hello, pleased to meet you! ... & a little mug competition
  • Julia Davey

Hello, pleased to meet you! ... & a little mug competition

I have decided that it would be a good idea to sit down every week and consider a little something to write about. It would be great to share with you what we are up to, any news that we have or new products and ideas. But also, and importantly, I realised that I come across such lovely people, places and objects in my line of work that it would be very rewarding sharing them with you.

'A very good place to start'...

So, I want to begin with the company. It is lovely having a website but that does not tell you much about where we came from, our passion for tableware and where we want to get to. This is my opportunity. I started the company in 2009 when I was a newly qualified teacher working at a college teaching Art A level part time. There was a studio space available at Bath Artists Studios, a co-operative of around 50 or so artists who work in a converted building just by the river Avon in Bath. I was so proud of my space, one of a line of garages that led to the river. It was convenient to get the kiln in, and I did not have to worry about when I fired work as it was self contained. However, it was essentially a garage, nothing more, nothing less and this did have its limitations. Heating was a big issue, I had to leave the glazes next to the kilns so that they did not freeze in Winter and to make the space lighter I had to use my savings to put in clear roofing panels. It was mine though and I loved it. I started to slip cast tableware, using the methods I had used whilst completing my degree in Ceramics at Bath Spa University. It was rewarding to create each stage and build up the decoration. I used coloured slips under the glazes before adding transfers and lustre. There were luckily a small number of local markets to sell at during this period. Frome Independent is now a major event in the south west, but at this time it was just me - a little fold up decorators table, and some wooden boxes with some chocks to even out the legs on steep St Catherines Hill alongside maybe thirty or so other traders that lined that busy street. Come rain or shine (and there was LOTS of rain) we sold from that table and it got us many a local contact and kept me in materials and profit.

Slip ware waiting to be glazed in our old studio

It took around a year to decide that I needed to go full time with the making. It was hard to keep up with stockist requests and selling myself at the markets was going well. Around 2012 we had the honour of producing work for Highgrove Estate, a slip cast range made by myself and another small range of my designs but made by the wonderful company in Stoke on Trent - Burleigh. This was a great learning curve and provided a regular income, not to mention wonderful advice from the Highgrove buyers and Burleigh workers. However, it was also becoming very difficult to keep up with slip casting the wares. I had out sourced a great deal of the casting to keep up but even so, the workload of underglazing, glazing, transfers and lustre was becoming too much.

My mother decided to join the company full time around this point. It was wonderful having an extra pair of hands to pack and check everything and keep on top of some admin too! Customers started to feed back to us that they would like dishwasher proof, less chunky ceramics - but with the same feel of decoration and designs. So in 2013 I began to look into sourcing fine bone china from Stoke on Trent to make our tableware. We launched the (still popular) lines of 'In The Woodland', 'Somerset Meadow' and 'Cornish Coast' with a selection of mugs, jugs, egg cups, jam pots and butter dishes. We have not looked back. The fine bone china set off the watercolours much better than the earthenware slip we had previously used and the feedback from customers was positive. Since then we have added different pieces to the collections and new designs each year when we could. It also felt right to design and sell some complementary products in the same designs. We now have textiles and stationery as big product lines as well as some that we could not resist such as cast pewter brooches.

In terms of the 'team' it is still myself and my lovely mother packing your orders and finishing off every piece of tableware that we make. I am lucky enough to have a group of ladies in Stoke on Trent who decorate some of the pieces for me, but I still add each little detail in the base of the piece myself, as well as the silver or gold lustre. A great deal of the pieces we make are still too fiddly for factories to decorate - so items such as the pots and dishes are completed by me every time. I like that I still have a hand in every piece, and that it is my mother who packs each and every item with such care. We are lucky and have a wonderful list of contacts who make the other products, all proudly based in the UK. It is one thing that I insist upon.

'What next?'...

That is the big question. As with every growing business you reach a point where it is a little trickier to handle the orders and get all the paper work done as the team stands. This has not been helped by the arrival of my daughter nearly two years ago, and the added strain of my second pregnancy this year. Estimated arrival is early July so it has been all hands to the deck to get everything in place for a smooth month! But I like that everything is constantly evolving, and that each day brings a new challenge. Whether that is an issue with a supplier or a last minute dash to get photography ready for magazine production.

I would like to think that this coming year will bring a greater selection of china for our customers rather than new designs. (Though we have completely re-designed our Christmas products and are so very excited to think of launching those this year!) Three new ranges were revealed in Spring 2017 as well as the introduction of personalising some of our products. We will be expanding this to further products, and possibly with more options as we head through the year.

'Thank you'...

As a BIG thank you for reading about our beginnings and what we are up to I want to give you the opportunity to WIN a small sized mug of your choice.

All you need to do is email us your choice of design (mail@juliadavey.com) and your delivery address. We will announce the winner in next weeks post.

Good luck!

 

  • Author avatar
    Julia Davey

Comments on this post ( 10 )

  • Jul 04, 2017

    I recently had some mugs from you, they arrived beautifully packaged, I felt like a kid at Christmas, the mugs were quirky delights, loved the little bonuses to be found on the inside- love, love, love them xxx

    — Paula Stephen

  • Jul 03, 2017

    Great idea to write a blog, I’ve always wondered about how you started and how it all works. I just love your items Julia and so do all my friends & family. I had coffee with my friend today and she was extremely jealous of the In the Woodland mugs I have, and I just love them to bits! Good luck:)
    Penny

    — Penny Weight

  • Jul 03, 2017

    I’m pleased to see your goods are made in Britain. I find it hard to find gifts for friends and family abroad that are made here and small enough to pack. I especially like the beach hut mugs – describing a beach hut to an American friend wasn’t easy, so much easier to show her the mugs! I hope you go from strength to strength.

    — Glenda Morse

  • Jul 03, 2017

    Hi Julia

    I remember when I first came across your work and fell in love with it immediately. I collect jugs and my friends and family have kindly bought me several of your jugs to add to my collection. My next purchase will be something from “A Trip to the Zoo”; being five foot nothing I’ve always had a thing for giraffes! I’ve really enjoyed reading about how you started your company and am excited to discover you have re-designed your Christmas collection.

    I wish you continued success with your business and look forward to reading more about you and your family.

    Good luck and best wishes
    Pauline Harrison

    — Pauline Harrison

  • Jul 03, 2017

    Hello Julia
    We first stumbled across your appealing collections at the RHS autumn craft fair three years ago and fell in love with the Somerset Meadow pattern. With each visit our collection seems to have grown and our ‘Julia Ceramics’ are used every day. We can’t resist them. Since then, various members of our family have been introduced to your attractive beach huts and big waves designs, as they live near the sea. We usually meet your lovely mum, who is a great PR agent with an amazing memory. Now we know what you look like and can certainly see the resemblance.
    Wishing you well-deserved, continued success in all your endeavours.
    Warmest wishes
    Margaret

    — Margaret

  • Jul 02, 2017

    Hello Julia
    Really enjoyed reading your blog and how you started.
    We met you at a Design show at Henley -upon -Thames, a few years ago and i`ve been a great fan of your work ever since! I have mugs, jugs, mats, coasters, tea towels, lavender bags.
    Looking forward to seeing what`s coming out later in the year.
    Good luck with the new baby.
    Mary

    — Mary

  • Jul 02, 2017

    As I sit here this Sunday afternoon, I can see my Woodland jug full of flowers on the windowsill and am reminded that I need to wrap a Somerset Meadow jug for my sisters birthday later this month. So it was lovely to read your blog – when you come across a piece you enjoy and us so individual, it is lovely to hear more about the creative story behind
    Good luck with the new baby
    Kind regards Carole

    — Carole Robinson

  • Jul 02, 2017

    So love your bone china, just wish I had more cupboard space! So interesting how you started and that your mum is involved. A true family business.

    Sue

    — Sue Peachey

  • Jul 02, 2017

    Offering a personalisation service on some products will be wonderful :)!! Good luck with everything :). My god daughter bought me a beautiful jam pot and I have been a fan ever since !!

    — Julie Wilson

  • Jul 02, 2017

    Lovely to hear about your beginnings and the way the business works! I’ve admired your work for a while and finally placed my first order last week! The items are just beautiful, and so well packaged! – good work your mum! I told my friend immediately and she placed an order too! I’ll definitely be buying more from you in the future and wish you every success xx

    — Donna Scott

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