By Kate Marsden
A personal favourite for you today. I met Carol of Kabinshop when I had a stall next to her at Crafty Fox Market back in May, and fell in love with her ceramics immediately! I was lucky enough that my husband bought me one of her pots for my birthday too, so the obsession can continue… Read on to find out more about Carol, her work, and her thoughts on the Just A Card campaign.
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I make ceramics. Its not the only thing I do, I also make hand painted cards and cards printed from my illustrations, but ceramics have become my main thing. I hand build everything (I don’t use the potters wheel) and I use various techniques that I taught myself. If you don’t use the wheel people think you are just making “pinch pots”! But I practically never make pinch pots. Most of my work is about texture and different combinations of colour. I was an illustrator for many years, but I have so far not put my illustrations on to my ceramics!
What does a typical day involve?
Ceramics is a cycle, so it depends where I am with this. First there is a “making phase” - each new kiln load is a mix of specific orders, restocking popular items that have sold, and new things I feel like making. When this bisque firing comes out of the kiln everything has to be smoothed and sanded so it is ready for glazing. It takes me about 2 days to glaze a kiln load as many of my pots have a different colour inside and out so I can’t just dip in a bucket of glaze!
I do my very best to ship orders on the day they are ordered or the next day if its too late, so packing, printing details and cycling to the post office takes up a part of the day. Packing ceramics is very time consuming to prevent any breakages.
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
I work from home in a kind of greenhouse attached to my flat. This is wonderfully light and keeps all my work in one place, but its not ideal as its freezing in winter and boiling in summer. At the moment I am trying to get a lot of things made in the early morning when it is cooler! It does save time as I don’t have to travel to a studio, but I am starting to outgrow my kiln and really need a bigger one which would not be practical at home.
When I’m not working, I am probably still working, as I am also a make-up artist and work on fashion shoots etc. My life is a constant juggling act.
When I’m really not working, I love the cinema, going to the beach and looking after my very large cactus collection.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
As ever, the constant challenge of the big high street retailers that people shop at because it is easy and cheap. I think a lot of people don’t care or know if something is a rip off of an independent designer as they just want cheap goods. Thankfully the handmade movement is growing and there is a move towards buying more ethically. The Just A Card campaign is a great example of trying to educate consumers.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
I would like to see my brand grow organically. I would like to be stocked in some great retailers that promote handmade goods. This is not easy as selling handmade products at wholesale prices is difficult, but I want to be in the right places. I am really interested in collaborating with other designer/makers and I have a few projects in the pipeline.
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
I would say do your very best to be original and do something new. There is too much blatant copying at the moment which is quite a big issue. Also don’t be afraid to try things and have faith in yourself, sometimes I’m amazed by what people like! Also there is no rhyme or reason as to what people buy, sometimes things can be in my shop for ages then all of a sudden they all sell!
I have learnt to follow your instincts in every way. If you get a bad feeling about something think about that. I made the mistake of selling a lot of my work to someone I had a bad feeling about, and they just wanted to pretend it was theirs and copy it!
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
My most favourite shop is the General Store in Venice L.A. I love this place so much. It stocks the wares of local artisans in Los Angeles, it is exactly the shop I would like to be in.
Also, Mason and Painter in London is a beautiful store in Columbia Road selling homewares, vintage and handmade goods. I have been lucky enough to have a few pop-up shops here.
Had you realisedthe Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
I know a lot more about the Just A Card campaign than I did previously. I guess buying a card is one of the cheapest handmade items available but shows that every purchase truly helps. I am honestly excited every time I have a sale whether it is for a card or a big ceramic order. I feel honored that someone wants to buy my work all of their own accord!!
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
I think its super important! And I love that independent makers are becoming important and able to make a real living from their work. It has meant that buyers are now recognising the work and time that has gone in to making something.
Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
I first heard about the campaign when I had a table next to you at Crafty Fox Market in Brixton!
I mostly use Instagram, as it is naturally the most most relevant platform for a visual business. I have a Facebook page and a Twitter account but I freely admit to not using them that much. Social media is a great platform to support the Just A Card campaign, I try to promote the buying of handmade items (and not just mine!) all the time.