Cast + Clay
What is your business name and how did you come up with it?
We are Cast + Clay which pretty much does what it says on the tin. We wanted a name that was simple and reflected what we did so after what felt like 687 days we arrived at Cast + Clay.
“Cast” because we create products using a liquid form of clay called slip which we pour into moulds that we have created ourselves and “Clay” because the other element to our work involves crafting things out of slabs of clay.
What products do you sell?
We make and sell ceramic home accessories such as ring dishes, air plant/ photo holders, pots, decorative wall plaques which hold air plants and jewellery plates. We handcraft every individual item from start to finish and complete each piece with a hand painted monochrome design. We really think about our products before producing as we like to create functional pieces which are versatile in their uses.
What does a typical day look like?
We work 4/5 days a week on Cast + Clay and those days typically start with checking our email and social media pages as soon as we wake up. We start work at around 10am but end up needing more sugar and caffeine to fuel our day, so we’ll start again around 10:15! We generally make in the morning, stop for lunch and clean and decorate the pieces in the late afternoon. On Thursday’s we work out of a communal studio where we fire our pieces in the rented kiln.
What hours are you open?
Our business is online so technically speaking we are open 24 hours a day.
How many people are behind your business? Who are they?
We are a team of two- mum Valerie and daughter Raechyl.
When did you launch?
We officially launched in June 2017.
What's your favourite part of running your business?
Can pick a top 3 here!? We love receiving great feedback from our awesome world-wide customers- it’s so rewarding to know that people really love what you are doing. We enjoy being part of a creative community and making connections with other businesses. And finally, it has to be the making itself!
What got you into the business?
Raechyl began an evening course in pottery in December 2016 and was bitten by the clay bug immediately. In February 2017 Raechyl dragged Valerie along to a class where she realized she had a creative streak that she never knew was there. We both find working with our hands very therapeutic so it’s easy to keep creating work…finding the space to store it all was becoming a challenge so we thought we’d open and Etsy store to see what would happen.
What makes your business unique?
No two pieces we make are the same so every customer gets a completely one of a kind product. We make our own packaging bags too which we think helps us stand out from our competitors. We like to wrap every parcel in wrapping paper so it feels like receiving a special gift when every customers’ purchase arrives at their door.
Have you any previous experience or interest in this field?
Aside from Raechyl embarking on a beginners’ pottery course we are largely self- taught via books, podcasts, YouTube and not being afraid to ask for help from those in the know.
Do you have a shop/website?
We have an Etsy shop which can be found at www.castandclay.com but we are also stocked in physical shops across the UK.
Do you offer specialist services?
We do offer wholesale to shop owners and we quite often get requests for specific patterns which we are more than happy to produce.
Where are you located? Does your location reflect your product?
We’re located in Nottinghamshire in Robin Hood County but we don’t think our location has an impact on our work though being away from the hustle and bustle helps.
How do the seasons affect your business?
The seasons don’t really affect our business, however, in the slower seasons when we’re not prepping for markets or larger orders we like to develop a new product to add to our range.
Do you have any projects coming up?
We are currently developing a pot which is the next size up to our current pot in stock and we’re also ready to launch the next size down in our pot range which can be used as egg cups, shot glasses and mini planters.
What has been your biggest achievement in your business?
It may seem daft, but to us (as two individuals who aren’t exactly “business minded”) our biggest achievement is that we have turned our passion for pottery into an actual business in less than a year. We happy dance every time a customer buys a piece and it still blows our minds whenever shops contact us to showcase our work in their beautiful indie stores. If we think more deeply about this question then being contacted and featured in Mollie Makes magazine, contacted and supplying products to Peter Andre’s 60 Minute Makeover TV programme, and being shortlisted for the Liberty London Open Call earlier last year feel like pretty incredible achievements too.
What has been your biggest hurdle?
Space to work and glaze recipes. We’ve now solved both problems by developing glazes that work for us and building a workshop at the bottom of our garden- we’ve claimed back the kitchen, dining room, living and hallway having a dedicated space to work in now!
What do you think has made your business successful?
Definitely the power of social media. Every shop, fellow maker who wants to collaborate and customer have found us via Instagram and Facebook.
What advice would you give someone looking to start a business?
JUST DO IT! Don’t waste time comparing yourself to others- squash the self doubt! (if anyone reading this is thinking of opening an Etsy shop feel free to contact us and we’ll send you a link which gives you 40 free listings)
What is your price range of products?
From £9-25 depending on the product type.
What are your popular products?
We don’t have a specific product that stands out as the most popular, our products are fairly even in terms of sales.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
We’re not particularly business minded in terms of business forecast or business planning- we’re the kind of people who go with the flow and thrive more for the journey over the destination.
Tell us a little about you the owners?
We both still currently work in roles outside of Cast + Clay. Raechyl has a background in photography and creates more colourful pottery over at @rara.ceramics. She is an enthusiast of all things tiny, fluffy and cute. Valerie works part-time in a secondary school and full-time as taxi driver, chef and cleaner for her grandchildren. She is a globetrotting lover of wine and master of organization.
If you had to describe your business in five words, what would they be?
Handmade, monochromatic, simple, functional, unique.
Who is your business aimed at?
People who value and appreciate hand crafted ceramics over mass produced home accessories and anyone looking to add a one of a kind piece of functional ceramics in and around their home.
Have you got anything exciting coming up?
We’re currently working on a big shop update and have applied to a couple of fairs/ events too…keep a check on our social media pages for more!