My Journey into Ceramics
Welcome to my first blog post! I have always loved skill sharing, helping other individuals or small businesses and really being part of a community. I know how much people have helped me in the last 8 years of being part of the ‘ceramic community’ and I am now in a position to help others, so why not! I started my journey into ceramics at Swindon College (my local vocational college) where I studied an Art Foundation course in 2014. I got to experiment with lots of different art mediums and was drawn to the diversity of working with clay. It is an interdisciplinary art form, which means it can work across lots of other art disciplines such as illustration, fine art, and product design. Within 2 months of the course, I applied to study ceramics at university. I knew this was a rogue decision; seeing as I already had a space at Nottingham University to study American Studies (which I deferred as I wasn’t confident in leaving home yet). I received some concerns about this from family and friends saying, “can you make a living in ceramics?”, “what about your A’s and B’s in science and maths”? However, I knew I would enjoy my three years at uni more with this decision. I chose to study the only sole-ceramics-undergraduate course in the UK, at Cardiff Metropolitan University. I initially had a really tough time moving away from home and being in this totally new environment, but I stuck it out and I’m so glad I did! This was an amazing 3 years studying something I grew to love even more, in an amazing city with great new friends. Whilst at uni, I made sculptural work inspired by the liminal space which is the edge of land. These were coil built pieces and were heavy with texture and glazes, capturing a moment in time. I loved making these large sculptures, however, skip forward 4 years and they are not as quickly sold and take up a lot of space (I will discuss this more in future posts). After graduating university I moved to Somerset to work at Sidcot School as a Graduate Teaching Intern of Ceramics. This is a great post-uni job as I got to live in a shared house with the other interns, I got to work across many aspects of the school, I was able to explore teaching further whilst not committing to a PGCE, and I worked with amazing students from across the world. I learnt so much in this role, most importantly that I didn’t want to continue to become a qualified teacher! Not for any bad reason though; I just understood the amount of work and pressure that goes into teaching and didn’t want to put that on myself at that point in my life. I stayed in this position for 2 years and I still miss the students and staff so much. When teaching, you are not only educating students but they are educating you as well on a daily basis. Upon finishing my teaching role, I was applying for jobs whilst making ceramics in my grandparents garage to keep me occupied. I soon started to book some Christmas markets to sell my work. This led to me reaching the income level of £1000 within a couple months which meant I had to declare my income and register as self-employed. That was it then… it is happening, I am now making investments, and Charlotte Manser Ceramics officially became a registered business. Within the next couple months I began to establish my range of products (which has changed and developed since), I moved my studio into Artsite Swindon,, and I started teaching workshops. I also started working for another ceramic-based small business (where I then moved my studio to) to take the pressure off making an income. Then in March 2020 COVID happened… Like a lot of small businesses at the time, I panicked.. but this wasn’t going to stop my business. I had invested my time and money over the last 6 months to make this work and a global pandemic wasn’t going to end that! So, as I couldn’t do markets to sell my work; I set up on Etsy, with the help of my employer, and as I couldn’t do workshops; I made a Take Home Ceramic Pack. I was extremely lucky than within a couple months my etsy was taking £1500 in sales a month, which had increased from under £100 a month. I was mind-blown! I was so lucky that I had online sales and was able to even grow my business during a pandemic. This isn’t saying it was easy, because it sure came with investments, big decisions and stresses, but it was amazing. I learnt to adapt quickly which saved my bacon! Since the pandemic started, I have quit my job to work full time for myself, moved to my own studio, sold my work to many countries across the world and have created a business I am proud of. Whilst this was a bit of an introduction into my business and how I have ended up where I am today, I hope with these blog posts I can help people with life, business, ceramics and much more! I intend to really break down all aspects of my business to help educate others, as I would have no idea what I was doing, without the people who helped me along the way. All feedback is appreciative and I would love to hear what you would like to see in a blog post. Thank you for joining me on this journey and I hope you continue with me over the future ups and downs.