Hey Guys, I have done this interview with the talented clare gage, clare shares her story on her journey and also some few tips for young entrepreneurs to take note of.
Hope you enjoy the interview!
Hey Clare, how are you doing? Welcome to YHP, Can you introduce yourself to everyone and kindly tell us what you do?
Hi I’m Clare Gage. I graduated from Cumbria Institute of the Arts in 2007 with a first in Contemporary Applied Arts. In my final year at uni I entered the RSA Ceramic Futures award with my designs that brought my two interests of textiles and ceramics together.
I won the Ceramic Futures award and was made a Fellow of the RSA, I now work from my studio in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, my home town. I am a Designer Maker, making and selling my Textile Inspired Ceramics, a collection that developed from the RSA award winning designs.
Tell us about your company and why did you start it?
My company is called Clare Gage. I started it after graduating. I wanted to have a career making and selling my handmade ceramics. I make all my ceramics myself in my studio in Chesterfield. I then sell through shops and galleries across the country. I also sell online at www.notonthehighstreet.com/claregage and at events such as the Country Living Spring Fair. It’s been a real adventure since I started, I’ve been lucky enough to win a number of awards and my designs have been popular with the press so have been featured in a number of magazines.
Currently I’m working on a commission from the Mayor of Chesterfield who has asked me to make a limited edition piece which will be sold to raise money for the Mayoral Appeal supporting local charity Fairplay. It’s a big order so I’m busy making lots of cups and experimenting with new coloured clay!
What do you think are the benefits of starting a business at a young age?
I think starting the business at this age has meant that I am full of enthusiasm and energy. Importantly I have the opportunity to work really hard. I’m able to concentrate on it without too many other responsibilities. I’m keen to make the most of the opportunities that I have in order to build my business in the next few years.
What inspires you and what is the inspiration behind your business?
I’m inspired by lots of things. With my work I’m mostly inspired by textiles, which may seem strange when I’m working in ceramics! I love working in ceramics but as the textile piece is the starting point for each design it’s this that fills me with ideas.
With the business I’m inspired by the successes I see around me. I take inspiration from other business women who have made a career from doing things that they love.
Who are you target market?
I have found that my designs really appeal to people interested in owning things that really stand out. It is often women that are interested in my designs, they have a delicate feminine style. People interested in textile also love my work, especially the Button Cup which always gets attention!
I’ve chosen the events that I attend carefully in order to find my target market. The Country Living Spring Fair is a key event for me.
How have you been marketing your products so far? How effective has it been?
I have put a lot of energy into marketing my products. You can make beautiful things in a studio in Chesterfield but no one can buy them if they don’t know about them! I often send out press releases about interesting news stories. I send my work out to magazine stylists to be used in photo shoots.
Attending the Country Living Spring Fair really made a difference to my marketing opportunities. Stylists saw me there and got in touch after the event to feature the work in their magazine. High profile events like this are a great way to get found.
What do you read or listen to, to keep you motivated, especially when you feel down?
I listen to my friends and family, and my fiancé! They are the people that really support me in my business and encourage me to keep up the good work. It is challenging starting a business and there is an awful lot to learn. I ask advice from local business people and like to attend the creative networking events locally to keep in touch with other people working in a similar way to me.
Also, 6 music keeps me company in the studio when I’m making lots of cups! Music always helps, Save 6 music!!!
What has been your most memorable experience so far?
I think the most memorable experience so far was preparing for and attending the Country Living Spring Fair 2009. I choose to attend really late in the day and had just 3 weeks to get ready! With the help of my friends, family and local businesses I managed to prepare for the event. I was busy at my desk making lots of cups whilst everyone worked busily around me.
It was a great supportive experience. Then on the first day of the event we were awarded the Editor’s Choice Award! This was a great piece of news to tell all the people that had helped in the preparations. I saved the champagne we were given and shared it with everyone when I got back to Chesterfield. It was a fantastic experience and really gave my business a boost.
Does you business offer anything out of the ordinary/something different that no one else is doing at the moment?
My designs are really different, the creative technique that I use to make them always interests people and I hope everyone who chooses one feels that they have something out of the ordinary!
How did you raise money for your business?
I received some funding through winning the RSA project. This gave me the money to buy my kiln, a very important piece of equipment! I raised the rest of the funding from a business angel.
What would you tell other women out there who were thinking of starting their own businesses?
I have so much advice to give! I would say that a really important piece of advice is to be organised. Work out your business plan before you begin, although things never go entirely to plan you need to have things to aim for in order to succeed.
What are your plans for the future?
I aim to extend my range, use some of the many ideas that I’ve got! I also aim to find some larger high profile stockists. I will be taking on a graduate intern towards the end of the year and this should help my business grow. I’ll be working hard to move the business forward and hope to enjoy the challenges this will bring!
Thanks for your time Clare, I wish you the best for the future and hope to speak to you sometimes in the future.