Spring at the Emma Bridgewater Factory – April 2016

 I always enjoy visiting the Emma Bridgewater factory…the pottery displays changing with the seasons, the cosy rustic atmosphere, lovely gardens and oh, that cafe! It’s always great to see the new ranges and get a treasured piece for my kitchen, but I love taking photos for future reference so I can see what products were available once discontinued. It’s surprising to look back at recent photos and spot what is no longer available and now a sort after piece on the collector’s pages. 

Here’s what the factory looked like today…

  
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
 

Advertisements

Emma Bridgewater Shop and Factory Tour, October 2015

It seems I visit the Emma Bridgewater factory quite a bit, and perhaps it seems a bit strange to people who aren’t fans of pottery, however with the new Christmas products on display, we just had to go for a browse. To be honest, the cafe alone is reason enough to visit (I am always thinking about food!), but last week we decided to visit the shop in search of Christmas goodies and signed up for a factory tour while we were there (always nice to do some snooping around the factory in search of new products yet to be released!).

The tour, is something I’d recommend to anyone going to the EB factory. It gives a real appreciation of the work that goes into each piece and the handmade nature of the product. I’m a big believer in British made and handmade products, having a small handmade business myself (click here to see my ‘day job’). Sometimes, unfortunately, handmade products can have the misconception of being overpriced, especially when they are made on such a massive scale as the EB products (our tour guide said 35,000 items are made in the factory each week). But, going to see how each and every mug, plate and bowl is handmade and hand painted, it really makes you value the work that goes into each piece. There is just one man who makes all the flat items (plates, saucers, bowls etc), which is both amazing and shocking when you realise how many items he must make to fill the pottery shelves of all worldwide stockists!

Another thing I love about the factory, aside from topping up on my appreciation of handmade products, is how thoughtful (and cosy!) the whole place is – nestled in industrial Stoke-on-Trent, is this amazing place that is decorated with fresh seasonal flowers (courtesy of their on-site gardener) and creating dishes in their cafe from the homegrown, seasonal vegetables. I’m so passionate about eating local, seasonal food, I’m thrilled when companies share the same vision. For my October lunch, I ate a delicious spiced pumpkin soup (the cake, less healthy, but still homemade!).

I think I love the brand as much as the products themselves – the ethos, ethics and all-round good atmosphere of the company, is something that I have so much admiration for. Everytime I visit, it fills me with a desire to grow my business to be as successful while still retaining it’s handmade charm 🙂

                

Adventures around the Emma Bridgewater Factory, September 2015

I’m so looking forward to our next trip to our favourite place for tea, the Emma Bridgewater Factory, so I went browsing the photos I took last time. It was only a few weeks ago, but feels like forever – I’m seriously craving a big slice of homemade cake and a cuppa in their cafe.

Last time we visited, I had to resist the massive gallon Rose and Bee teapot (it’s a bit of an in-joke, as I keep threatening to buy a tea pot every time I go pottery shopping!). They also had the new stacked hearts and stacked polka dot patterns. As we were still transitioning from Summer to Autumn, the shop was full of bright blooms and pretty pinks, with a few bits of the polka turkey pattern thrown in for the new season…I am so excited to see the new festive displays in the shop now that it’s getting closer to Christmas!IMG_0837 IMG_0856 IMG_0857 IMG_0876 IMG_0878 IMG_0939 IMG_0836 IMG_0737

Bosworth’s Garden Centre, Burton Latimer

With Spring having well and truly sprung, there’s been so many opportunities for gardening. One of our favourite local places to visit is Bosworth’s Garden Centre in Burton Latimer. The plants are gorgeous and it’s clear how much effort goes into looking after the garden centre. It’s a really beautiful, cared for garden centre. I’ve recently been without my phone due to getting a fault repaired and the thing I missed most was my camera – I got a replacement phone the day before visiting Bosworth’s so took the opportunity to take lots of photos when we visited. The flowers are so pretty, so we were spoilt for choice, both with shopping and photographing!

Emma Bridgewater Spring Products

With Christmas over and Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought we’d take a impromptu day off and visit Stoke-on-Trent for the Emma Bridgewater factory. We booked a factory tour and their afternoon tea is such a treat, but we couldn’t have timed it better…the new products for Spring 2015 launched this week and the winter sale is on!

We visit the factory a few times a year, but this time was particularly exciting as we saw Emma Bridgewater and her husband Matthew Rice at the factory – talk about starstruck! It makes me think how amazing it would be if my business grew to the size of hers and customers were as excited spotting me around my shop (I can dream).

It’s incredible to see how everything is handmade in the factory in stock, from designing and making the moulds, creating the pottery shapes, hand decorating and then glazing. The whole process is amazing to see in a British factory and how much care is put into each individual piece (especially those decorators!).

Also – if you’re ever in Stoke, their afternoon tea is amazing! We’ve got a little challenge to try as many ‘Afternoon Teas’ as possible in different places – this is one of our favourites…the pretty plates, cake stand and tea pots help too 😉

2015/01/img_5750.jpg2015/01/img_5798.jpg

2015/01/img_5800.jpg

2015/01/img_5804.jpg

2015/01/img_5785.jpg

2015/01/img_5784.jpg

2015/01/img_5782.jpg

2015/01/img_5780.jpg

2015/01/img_5779.jpg

2015/01/img_5778.jpg

2015/01/img_5777.jpg

2015/01/img_5752.jpg

2015/01/img_5755.jpg

2015/01/img_5766.jpg

2015/01/img_5769.jpg

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal

IMG_5040.JPG

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso has been on my wishlist for sometime. It’s one of those books that I see frequent recommendations for and I finally got around to reading last weekend. Sophia is the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal, the American clothing store, which started it’s life as a vintage shop on Ebay and has grown into being one of the most successful fashion retailers in the world. Being based in the UK, I’d heard of Nasty Gal through fashion bloggers and social media, but only ever browsed (stung by customs a few too many times!). Having now read #Girlboss, I know it’s not necessary to have really heard of Nasty Gal or be a customer – the story is still inspiring and Sophia’s writing is witty and funny regardless.

The book follows Sophia’s early life which chronicles her lack of fitting in, the jobs that ‘saved her life’ and the story of Nasty Gal, from Sophia’s thrifting and eBay days to the million dollar empire it is today.  It’s been referred to as ‘rags to riches’ story but Sophia emphasises is not down to luck, but sheer hard work and providing something different. She’s created a brand which has evolved into it’s own persona and it’s own community of followers. Nasty Gal was named the fastest growing retailer in 2012 and impressively has grown profitably with no debt.

What inspires me most about Sophia’s story is that she does everything her way and knows exactly what her customer wants. It’s this knowledge that has made her fashion brand a success and developed her a loyal tribe worldwide. She isn’t afraid of being different and it’s that uniqueness that has set Nasty Gal apart from other retailers.

It’s a great read and not necessarily limited to business owners, aspiring CEO’s or fashion fans. Sophia’s witty writing style and amusing anecdotes are hilariously funny as well as being totally inspiring.

#Girlboss is available from Amazon on Paperback and Kindle.

Emma Bridgewater Pottery Studio and Factory, Stoke-on-Trent

Being big pottery fans, one of our favourite places to visit is the Emma Bridgewater Factory in Stoke-on-Trent. It’s quite a drive from where we live in Northamptonshire, but it’s well worth a trip, even more so if you’re collectors like we are. There’s a beautiful shop housing first quality pieces, along with a jam-packed seconds shop. Plus an amazing cafe full of freshly made food, homemade cakes and using grown-on-the-premisis ingredients (you should see their little garden in the summer, beautiful!). It’s really one of those great, innovative and creative places to visit – charming buildings emphasising it’s industrial history, lovely products and just a general ‘feel-good’ place. I always feel completely energised and inspired when seeing what they’ve accomplished – very motivating for a small business owner to see how they’ve created such an strong, iconic brand!

I thought I’d share with you one of the more creative things to do at the factory – pottery painting! In the summer, we visited and booked in to use the decorating studio. You can choose from a huge range of unpainted shapes and paint your own (much easier said than done!). We’d attempted our own pottery decorating in the past at the factory, but this time, we were determined to have something a little more presentable to show for it at the end (seriously, you should see how appalling our previous attempts have been!).

There’s a wide range of paint colours to play with, and tonnes of hand-cut sponges to stamp your own design onto the pottery shapes. If you choose to do the factory tour too, you’ll get a glimpse of the sponges being drawn and cut for the real decorators too. It’s actually much harder to stamp the shapes onto the pottery than you’d think, and quite terrifying trying to avoid ruining your blank canvas. Anyone employed as a decorator at Emma Bridgewater have some true skills!

Once your blank pottery has been painted, it’s then taken off to be glazed and fired in the factory. If you live locally, you can pick your finished personalised pottery a week or two later, or you can provide delivery details to have your ‘masterpiece’ posted to you.

It’s a really fun and creative experience, and it certainly makes you appreciate how talented the decorators are at the EB factory!

Pottery Decorating Studio at the Emma Bridgewater Factory, Stoke-on-Trent Pottery Decorating Studio at the Emma Bridgewater Factory, Stoke-on-Trent Pottery Decorating Studio at the Emma Bridgewater Factory, Stoke-on-Trent Pottery Decorating Studio at the Emma Bridgewater Factory, Stoke-on-Trent Pottery Decorating Studio at the Emma Bridgewater Factory, Stoke-on-Trent Pottery Decorating Studio at the Emma Bridgewater Factory, Stoke-on-Trent

 

Ed’s Animals & The Toft Alpaca Shop, Rugby

For the past eight months I’ve been teaching myself to crochet using various books and online resources. The best book I’ve found by far is ‘Edward’s Menagerie’ by Kerry Lord. It contains 40 adorable animal patterns to make, ranging from easy to hard difficulty, plus another ten emailed in pdf if ordered direct rather than through Amazon. I’ve found myself addicted to making them, finding any excuse to make them as gifts for friends and family, I’m currently working on a herd of Reindeers to give to everyone I know for Christmas!

Here at RW HQ we love supporting small, local businesses, and when we found out that the author, Kerry Lord, owns TOFT alpaca farm & shop, local to the Ruby Wren Studio, we just had to visit!

Located between Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, the farm contains over 200 alpacas. It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon, take a walk around the farms and see the alpacas, then pop into the shop to stock up on wool for your projects, or stop by the Cornflower cafe for a cup of coffee and piece of cake! I had a little fangirl moment when I was even served by owner and author Kerry Lord herself, with my arms full of alpaca wool, while Ed (the inspiration for the menagerie itself!) sat close by!

IMG_1469  IMG_1442IMG_1439  IMG_2194