Hello! If you're here, then it's likely you already know our story but it's good to recap because 'you can't really know where you're going until you know where you've been'.
(Photo of Myfanwy, Tom and Arthur dachshund during lockdown)
I'll skip the boring details like how we met... How we owned a café... even though we hated coffee! And we'll start in 2014 when we bought 2 Bank Place, Porthmadog and started our Glosters adventure.
Let’s be honest we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. In a café, people need to eat! In a shop... people don't necessarily need to buy a mug from you (Everyone needs a mug though, right...?!)
The shop opened on the ground floor and Tom's pottery workshop moved into a room on the 1st floor (by this point Tom had already been a potter since 2004, his pottery was quickly becoming known as Glosters pottery, hence the shop name).
(Photo of Glosters having reopened in June 2020 after lockdown)
Since then the pottery has very much taken over our lives!
We do essentially live ‘the mug life’, but my goodness we love it! Even the 3am kiln checks! What started as a 70-litre kiln in one room with one guy... is now 3 x 270 kilns with Tom, the original mug maker, Bethany who works with us full-time glazing, and John who started this year (thrown in at the deep end there, mate!) preparing clay and finishing mugs with us.
2020 (before all this madness!) didn't start well for us, we hit the ground running and had our busiest start to a year, but our kilns had endless problems. The problem is 2 Bank Place (our current location) has a domestic, not commercial, electricity supply and whilst it was fine when we first started, things have aged and the kilns have got bigger and we are firing pretty much 7 days a week right now.
Pre lockdown we'd looked into getting a 3-phase commercial supply in, then we'd be able to fire kilns at the same time and maybe even have the kettle on too! It would however require traffic lights and digging up the main road and pavement and rewiring the building, achievable but costly. We were ready to launch a Crowdfunder...
Lockdown came and we had to close our physical shop for 3 months. Something we were pretty convinced would end us, 70% of our income came through the shop door.
Our team was at home; with no stable income to pay them we had no other choice, our workshop made social distancing impossible. Tom and I worked for the next 6 weeks keeping the ship afloat.
Make, glaze, fire, repeat.
Our online sales climbed...
By now it was obvious we needed Bethany back to glaze whilst I packed orders and Tom continued making. We reshuffled the whole workshop. It now takes over 2 floors. We invested heavily in a brand-new website. We doubled our mug making.
John returned to help keep up with mugs, the shop reopened, but we still can't make a brew without tripping a kiln...
(Photo of Tom, the original mug maker here at Glosters)
Why we need to move
There is of course still the possibility of getting the 3-phase electricity connection into 2 Bank Place for our kilns (and the kettle!). However, in the last couple of months we have had to close our wholesale books and turn away orders, our website spends 90% of its time out of stock and restocks sell out super quickly... our shop never has all glazes in-stock. Even though we doubled mug making we still can't make enough. We’re not only exhausting the electricity supply here... we’ve now also run out of space! To keep up with demand we either need to scale back (we didn’t come this far to only come this far, right?!) or scale up...
In the reshuffle of the workshop, we've filled our course rooms too and so there is no longer space for us to hold our pottery courses here as a result, and they’re something we've always loved hosting.
Ideally, with Christmas fast approaching we need to take on another couple of team members to help with packing orders and also the making of pieces. As we stand, we don't have the room to do that.
Back in 2014, we made a business plan...
In that plan was 'the dream': a workshop producing a range of tableware made in Wales, local jobs, a creative space, somewhere for dreams to grow and where the kettle could boil whenever we liked!
We've found that space, here in Porthmadog.
Drowning in natural light, within walking distance of our shop. And whilst we've done all the calculations (the accountant will be so proud of me!), and we're pretty sure we can afford the move, the extra team members and to start our own apprenticeship working alongside Tom, there are some things we need a hand with to make it the 'space we envisage!
(Photo of Myfanwy in the potential new space)
It is not small... at over 2000 sq feet it really is 'go big or go home'. Once we move all our benches, wheels, and kilns in, I imagine we're going to look pretty small!
Our friend Nick James (Tom and Nick where at university together, check out this guy’s furniture!) has kindly offered to head down from the North to give us a hand in building the work spaces we have planned, a clay prep area, glazing benches, storage, as well as our super new 'pottery shed', a space where we can have our team meetings, room for lunch (something we lack currently) but also the most beautiful space for us to hold our courses, something we really want to expand on in the new space. At the moment we only hold 2-hour taster sessions but with the new space we hope to have 6 wheels set up at all times to run longer sessions and also the possibility of rent-a-wheel space.
As well as a designated packing area for online and wholesale orders we'll also have a full-time 'workshop shop' onsite where work hot from the kilns will be available to purchase as well as any one-off samples the team might be working on.
(Photo- 'Go Big or Go Home')
What is the funding for?
We're crowdfunding for the initial set up costs of the venture, the boring bits like insurance and deposits, paint, flooring, the first couple of months’ rent whilst we find our feet.
We’d like to invest in people, some new team members, without the financial pressure to be instantly creative so we can all have a little time to get to know each other and learn the tasks in hand, we still want to ensure Glosters quality.
The cost of moving 3 kilns to the new space. Unfortunately, these guys don't come with a plug and will need to be professionally wired into the new space (which comes with 3-phase! Pop the kettle on!)
(Photo inside a Glosters kiln- unfortunately all these mugs where binned after the kiln tripped)
With Nick heading down we'll need to have all the materials ready for the big build.
(Potential designs for the 'Pottery Shed' cad design by Nick, photo from pintrest)
We're hoping to purchase 6 Shimpo wheels for our course area.
(Design idea for the new course space, photo from Pinterest)
Ware trollies will be purached from a reclamation yard in Stoke on Trent so they can continue their lives in a pottery.
(Layout idea for work spaces, photo from Pinterest)
This will give us the breathing space to iron out any hiccups we hit along the way and means that in 2021 we can hit the ground running, a full team, a full workshop, a fully stocked website and shop.
Any additional funding will be reinvested into the business in the form of clay, glaze, training, funding an apprentice and working on new designs.
It's a bold move, we know that, especially at a time like this, we have spent many an evening discussing it and many a night lying wide awake worrying about it... but it keeps coming back to 'what if we don't? where do we go from here?' Neither of us want to end the journey, but neither of us want to continue struggling to keep up, never knowing if the kiln will fire okay.... As I type, a kiln has already tripped 3 times in 48 hours and we pretty much know its contents won’t make it now...
It's time to jump, time to change, time to train others, time go.
The space is not just for us, the team, it's for us all, the whole Glosters community! The 'mug army'!
You brought us this far...
We want you to be involved in this too! We're not asking for anything for free, we're kindly asking if you'll invest in this with us in exchange for some cracking 'rewards' when we've moved.
Go Big or Go Home Pin Badge- £10
It’s been our motto for quite some time here at Glosters and this really is it:“Go Big or Go Home". We’re offering a gold edition of our mug pin designed by Samantha Eynon. Size 35mm (Available for international shipping)
Stormy Seas Quote Banner- £15
A hand-stamped stoneware banner featuring the quote ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor’ with an exclusive illustration of 'Glosters Storm',designed for us by local artist Rebecca Kitchin who regularly designs pieces for us here at Glosters. Approx. size 12cm x 9cm, only available as part of the Crowdfunder. (Available for international shipping)
Stormy Seas ‘Porthole’ Decoration- £15
Our popular round decorations featuring the view through a porthole of the ‘Glosters ship’ sailing through rough seas. Size 10cm, only available as part of the Crowdfunder. (Available for international shipping)
'Mugsters Paradise' Tea towel-£15
If you know, you know...!
If you follow us over on Instagram, then you may have already been subjected to my 'Mugsters’ Paradise' rap! Seeing as Coolio hasn't replied to my pleas to collaborate on a fund-raising song... (there's still time... we could go for Christmas No.1! If a sausage roll can make it, I'm sure a mug can!)…
We're really pleased to announce that Miss Sammie Designs has created the most beautiful typography of my favourite verse, which will be printed up as a tea towel so we can all do some kitchen rapping together! (Available for international shipping)
’Stargazer’ Autumn Pumpkin
Our popular autumn pumpkin in the crowdfunder glaze with a splash of real gold. Approx size 5cm x 5.5cm each pumpkin is handmade and so varies slightly. Dispatched this October (Available for international shipping)
‘Stargazer‘ Glaze Muglet or Mug- £25-£32
We specialise in mugs!
We’re living ‘The Mug Life’ after all, so when it came to the Crowdfunder we knew we needed to make an extra special one.
We’ve opted for a dark blue ‘egg shell’ style glaze with a splatter of real gold. Available as our popular Mug, 3/4 of a pint of tea! (approx. height 10cm) or our new for 2020 ‘Muglet’ for a comfortable 6oz coffee (approx. height 7cm).(Both available for international shipping)
Glaze your own Glosters Mug- £30
Join us at the new Glosters HQ for a couple of hours to glaze your own Glosters mug! We'll talk you through the process, the possibilities, and the glazes on offer before letting you get creative on your own Glosters mug! These will then be fired before being ready to collect or posted to you. (We'll be offering you a range of dates to choose from for this reward)
‘Stargazer’ Drinks BeakerStoneware drinks beaker in the crowdfunder glaze with a splash of real gold. Approx size 12cm x 8cm holds approx 3/4 of a pint.
(international delivery available add £15 to the pledge)
‘Glosters Strom’ Print- £35
An A3 print from the original painting by Rebecca Kitchin of our 'Glosters ship' sailing through a storm to calmer seas.
Pasta Bowl Duo- £60
A pair of Glosters pasta bowls in the exclusive Crowdfunder dark blue glaze. This glaze will only be available through the Crowdfunder. Approx. size 9 inches, dishwasher and microwave safe.
3 Piece Dinner Set- £100
A Glosters 3-piece dinner set in the exclusive Crowdfunder glaze, includes 1 x dinner plate (11 inches), 1 x pasta bowl (9 inches), 1 x breakfast bowl (6.5 inches), dishwasher and microwave safe.
5 Piece Dinner Set- £150
A 5-piece dinner set in the exclusive Crowdfunder glaze, includes 1 x dinner plate (11 inches), 1 x pasta bowl (9 inches), 1 x breakfast bowl (6.5 inches), 1 x side plate (7.5 inches) and 1 x pudding bowl (5.5. inches), dishwasher and microwave safe.
One Day Pottery Throwing Course- £150
Join us at the new Glosters HQ for a day's pottery course. We'll start the day getting to know the clay, how to prepare it ready to throw. We'll learn how to centre the work on the wheel before throwing some shapes! Anything you make during the day will be fired and glazed for you ready to collect or posted to you. Each course will be a full day with space for 6 (price is per person) you'll be able to choose from the following dates- January 30th 2021, March 27th 2021, May 29th 2021 or June 26th (dates subject to change depending on the current situation with regards to Covid, we will of course take all precautions and social distancing measures)
Dine at the ‘Pottery Shed’- £200
'Come Dine with Us!'
Join us in the 'Pottery Shed' we'll chat all things pottery, how this all started, how we got here, we'll show you around, let you have a go making your own pieces before we sit down for a seasonal meal in the shed, served on Glosters tableware of course! Everyone will take home a 5-piece set of tableware in the Crowdfunder glaze and an exclusive 'stargazer' beaker to match.
Provisional date April 24th, dietary requirements will be catered for. (subject to change with regards to the Covid situation, we will take into account social distancing measures and may opt to split the event into two sittings for safety)
Private Throwing Course for up to 6 people, Full Day- £800
Join us for a full day at Glosters HQ with up to 6 of your friends and family. We'll go through the process of preparing clay, centering on the wheel and throwing a few different shapes that we'll then fire and glaze for you to collect or to posted to your home.
Lunch will be included in the Pottery Shed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will our rewards be posted?
Yes, and all rewards include UK postage. International postage is available on a few rewards but at an extra cost. You are more than welcome to collect your reward from the shop when they are ready; we'll let you know when they are.
Can we donate more than once?
Absolutely, firstly it's great news you'd like to help us out, thank you. If, for example, you're selecting a mug, it's possible to opt for multiples. If, however,you fancy a mug and a tea towel you'll need to pledge first for the mug and then log back in to pledge again for the tea towel.
When will we get our rewards?
We've tried to be realistic here... this is a huge move! We hope to get the smaller pieces out to you in time for Christmas, I'm afraid the larger pieces will be after Christmas. We've set the date as April 1st 2021; we imagine they’ll be with you long before this, but we're playing it safe, just in case.
Will the event dates change?
We hope not... but these are strange times! Who knows what might happen next... so I'm afraid the dates are subject to change but we'll give you as much notice as possible if this is the case and we'll make sure we reschedule at a time that fits for you.
Are these pieces exclusive?
Our dark blue glaze and 'Glosters Storm' illustration will only be available during the Crowdfunder... after that we'll never produce them again.
Lastly... a HUGE thank you for all your support over the last 6 years, it’s been a crazy journey, but you've always had our back! We're super excited to see where this goes next and we really hope those kilns get firing and those mugs will be back in stock soon.
Myf & Tom x