Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

All fired up! Collaborate helps ceramics business grow

How to cope with rapid growth is a challenge often faced by small businesses. Jo Keogh of Jo Keogh Ceramics and The Clay Room Leicester turned to Leicestershire business support project Collaborate for help.

Jo always had a passion for ceramics but decided originally to pursue a career in science. It was some years later, whilst working at Leicester College, her interest in ceramics was re-ignited. An A-level and MA in Studio Ceramics later (she already has an MSc in Science and a PhD in Pharmacology!) Jo now has her own business producing ceramics for retail and exhibitions from her studio at Makers’ Yard, in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter, where she has been since March 2016.

Jo uses hybrid making methods in which the hand-formed and the moulded are brought together to create one-off ceramic vessels. A qualified teacher, Jo also runs a number of ceramic workshops and pottery classes from her studio. Her income from these classes has nearly tripled in the last two years as general interest in ceramics has grown in recent years.

Jo said:

“The business is developing and diversifying much more quickly than I anticipated. I needed help on how to cope and maintain growth.”

Jo has taken advantage of support, advice and workshops from LCB Depot, run by Leicester City Council, lead partner in the Collaborate project.

“I want to be the best at what I do and get the best advice and information. I’ve been on a number of free workshops organised by the Business Growth Team funded by the Collaborate project including creating an online shop, product photography, GDPR, Intellectual property and setting terms and conditions. As a series these were really useful coming at the right stage for me and my business.”

She added:

“I felt confident this information was good and could be trusted. It saved me hours of research on the internet which may have taken me down the wrong route. Knowing, for example, how to take my own product photos and what shape or sizes work best on a website has been really useful, saving me money and also improving the user experience.”

Jo also found that people were asking her on a regular basis if they could have some studio time to use her pottery wheel or kiln. This seemed like it could be another income stream, so following research and further advice from LCB Depot she has taken a larger space at the Makers’ Yard and launched a membership scheme, whereby other ceramists can make use of her space, for a monthly fee.

She continued:

“LCB Depot’s Business Growth Team also provided signposting to funding from other projects and I’ve recently installed a new security system which allows me to manage access to my studio in the most efficient way. I’d recommend Collaborate to any creative business looking to grow.”

Russ Pacey, Sector Lead for Creative Industries for Leicester City said:

"Our tailored programme of workshops is specifically designed for creative businesses across Leicester. The feedback from attendees at our workshops has been fantastic and it’s great to see the support we offer having a positive impact on creative businesses such as Jo's."

Collaborate is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and partners: Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) and the Food and Drink Forum.

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