The History of Glosters•
Posted on June 22 2022
My name Myfanwy, most people by now know me Mev, I co own Glosters pottery in Porthmadog, North Wales with my husband, the potter, Tom.
This is an ultra speedy version of how Glosters began and grew. Buckle up! It’s quick!
We met in 2008, in a recession. I was fresh faced straight out of uni with a textiles degree and he was a really good potter. I’ll be honest. It was his pots that caught my eye before he did! But he offered me a tea at a craft fair in a handmade mug... and well... the way to a Welsh girls heart is a good brew!
In 2010 we bought a house and a dog! And in 2011 we opened a coffee/ craft shop on the ground floor. It’s likely some of you found us there.
It very quickly became all about the coffee... the cake... the pizza and along the way we lost sight of the craft.
Just before our wedding in 2013 we decided to buy a new premises and open a craft shop on the ground floor and move our pottery workshop from the shed in our garden to the first floor. I promised I couldn’t live in a world where he didn’t make pots... he was so talented and far better than he ever thought he was, so in 2014 the doors opened on this new adventure, Glosters.
It was obvious form the get go that our hearts lay at this new shop, at Glosters. We closed our cafe, sold the house and threw ourselves into ‘the mug life’. The next few years we submerged ourselves in building a business specialising in handmade stoneware pottery.
By January 2020 Glosters was beginning to grow, we’d made the decision to grow our online sales as well as our brick and mortar store. We’d gone from two kids and my mum, to two of us, two part time and my mum!
Along came covid.
We spent two weeks at home.
A time I call the ‘great sulk.’ The rug pulled from beneath our feet, how would we survive? How was any business meant to navigate the unknown.
I woke up one day walked into the kitchen and announced ‘if we can’t make it online at a time that everyone is staring at their phone... then we’ll never make it. This is ‘go big or go home’
Tom and I went back to work. We invested in a new website… pretty big gamble… but it paid off!
Suddenly I had no shop to keep so I was stacking kilns, glazing mugs or packing parcels... eventually, fed up of me getting in the way, Tom declared we needed the team back.
We rejigged the workshop, everyone had their own room. John trimming mugs upstairs, Bethany glazing in one room, Tom throwing pots in another. I was downstairs in the shop which was now packing HQ.
Eventually the shop reopened. And I thought we’d go back to normal. I assumed our online sales would tail off and we’d be back to relaying on the shop for our income.
By late July it was obvious this wasn’t the case, almost as though we had two separate businesses, online and bricks & mortar. In order to keep up we’d need a better electric supply, we’d been running kilns on a domestic supply and it wasn’t enough, not if you also wanted to boil a kettle too!
We planned a crowdfunder, ambitiously thinking if we could achieve £10k in the 30 days we could have a better electric supply put in to the workshop.
What we’d failed to realise was in the last 6 months we’d built an army of mug lovers online all routing for us, now affectionally known as ‘the mug army’.
That Friday morning, the morning our crowdfunder launched, they came out in force for us and within an hour we’d reached £20,000... by 24 hours we’d hit £40,000.
It was beyond our wildest dreams.
We signed a lease and in November 2020 we moved to a workshop of 2,500sq feet. Far larger than anything we ever imagined... but admittedly had dreamt of.
It didn’t stop there... the next 2 years where a roller coaster of emotions, our team grew to 5 full time, 4 part time, Tom & I, a new dog called Frank. A full dinner party of people! We had clay wobbles, glaze dramas, we realised our stock forecasting was well off... we hadn’t and couldn’t make enough.
I’d like to tell you that here we are in 2022 and we’ve got it all sussed.
It’d be a lie.
You see the thing is, yes we had dreamt it, those dogs walks along the sea front past large corrugated buildings and thoughts of transforming them to light airy workshops full of potters.
Yes we had dared to go for it, though more inland and now knowing that the supply of electricity was vital. But neither of us had any experience in how to achieve it.
The last two years have been the biggest learning curve. Building a business has not come without its bumps, but has been an incredible adventure!
Often we’re so submerged in it that we don’t take time to appreciate just how far we’ve come!
Over the next few weeks we’re going to be writing more blogs and introducing you to the team, the team you grew by supporting this dream in rural North Wales.
Pop back soon ,
(I told you it was quick and quiet the ride!)