Not your average Jewellery brand

ELXNAY is a jewellery brand that was started in 2018 as a hobby by a mum, whilst on maternity leave. She was used to being busy and wanted something to keep her occupied in her spare time, this quickly became a passion. She identified a niche in the market and the brand now provides high quality tarnish free jewellery, which means customers can have affordable and fashionable pieces that will last them a life time.

Here is how the conversation went, when I caught up with founder Naomi McGann on how she started this great business

Have you always worked in this industry and what motivated you to start your own brand of Jewellery?

I haven’t always worked in the jewellery industry. I am a Registered Psychiatric Nurse and I qualified at 21 years old. Although I was proud of my achievements, the excitement quickly wore off when I realised I did not want to work 12 hours shifts for the rest of my (working) life. I knew I wanted to start a family and be present for my children.

I fell into owning my brand but my motivation to keep on going is my daughter and my little sister (I call them my little helpers). I do this for them to give them the best start and to show them that black women can run a successful business, there are no limits to what you can achieve when you put your mind to it

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What makes your jewellery brand different from others on the market?

What makes ELXNAY stand out is that the business thrives off representing our customers. We specialise in country map jewellery. Our pendants allow people from different cultures and backgrounds to carry a piece of home with them wherever they go!

Being of Caribbean heritage it has always been important to feel close to and be proud of my background. Wearing my St. Kitts and Jamaica necklace achieved this for me. This was a feeling I wanted everyone to experience.  With over 90 country map pieces available we allow many people from all around the world to feel connected to home. We also provide trendy pieces that make the perfect go to jewellery collection for everyday wear. 

For those that are not aware, tell us about the jewellery market and where your brand is positioned

The Jewellery business is a competitive, billion-pound market that is projected to grow rapidly in the next few years. Though the trajectory is mostly reflective of high-end brands, mid-range brands like ELXNAY are also expected to do well. Despite the fragility of the high street the purchasing of jewellery has gone up, with research showing two-thirds of people in the UK buying jewellery for themselves or someone else…. Overall there has been a 5% increase in comparison to 2018!

I think this is a profitable market, especially when you discover your unique niche and in the age of online shopping there’s some evidence to suggest online brands may have a stronger advantage.

Why did you decide to sell your jewellery via your own website and move away from Etsy?

When I started ELXNAY it was a hobby and Etsy seemed to be the best place to dip my feet in the water and see what people wanted. After obtaining almost 7 thousand sales with many returning customers, it became very clear that there was a demand for our product and in order to gain more control over our business and to truly establish the brand in its own right, I recognised it was time to move ELXNAY to its own domain

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What are some of the challenges you experienced whilst moving to your own website? 

The biggest challenge about starting over was starting over! I felt like I had mastered Etsy. I knew how to list products in a way that guaranteed traffic to my store, how to interact with customers quickly and effectively and how to unify this to generate sales.

There’s a lot more work that goes on behind the scenes of owning your own website, things I hadn’t yet encountered. My first challenge was designing my website, whereas Etsy is like a cookie cutter one-store-fits-all well as your own website is essentially a blank canvas that you have to paint on to create your brand identity.

Then came the challenge of generating sales, because once you navigate away from ETSY you also leave behind the customers Etsy brings to its platform. Every visit to my store is now generated by me and so, I had to learn how to really utilise the power of social media and online advertising. It has been a journey… challenging but most definitely rewarding. 

Do you design it yourself?

initially, when I started ELXNAY as a one (wo)man brand I wore many hats, which included penning my own designs ready for our manufactures to transform into amazing pieces. However, I quickly discovered that I’m not a jewellery designer (as cool as it would be to be one) and there’s a reason people go onto further education to study this intricate skill. I’m thankful now that I can maintain creative control over my designs however can rely on skilled designers to capture this for me!

Do you have any advice for aspiring jewellery designers?

There’s no better time than now to get started in the jewellery industry. With so many mid to high range jewellery brands finding their feet and expanding their territory, many are on the search for keen and hard-working jewellery designers to join their teams.

Reach out and pitch your unique selling point, highlighting what you could offer to a brand. Alternatively, if being the boss of your own brand is more suited to you, once you’ve established your desired brand identity, take time to build a great working relationship with a manufacture. It is always important to have trust in your manufacturer to deliver exactly what you’ve asked for especially after investing so much of your time and money into something you love!

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What are your plans for the brand this year?

This year I want to continue to grow the brand’s collections to represent more countries around the world whilst also connecting with the wider community. I will be hiring more staff to support the growth of the business and collaborating with others to grow the brand identity.

More importantly we want to decrease our carbon footprint and ensure our business is friendlier to the environment!

Thank you so much for sharing the journey of ELXNAY. Checkout this unique jewellery at and get 20% off your purchase with promo code: BOB20

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Flavour like Fancy, a gift shop with a difference

Flavour like fancy is an independent gift shop and online shop, which was started in July 2019 by Tasha Grant. The shop sells unique gifts handmade and produced by small UK businesses, with a focus on Leeds based makers as part of a bid to support local makers. Flavour like Fancy stocks a variety of items from cards to jewellery and ceramics to prints.

Here is how the conversation went, when I caught up with founder Tasha Grant on how she started this great business.

What were you doing before you started the business?

Before opening Flavour like Fancy I’ve worked in a variety of roles within the creative industry including account management, managing art events and marketing and communication. It was through these roles that I gained the experiences and skills necessary to run a business, which I am so grateful for such as budgeting, managing people, and problem solving. In my spare time I also created jewellery under the name Loon Moon jewellery which was an opportunity for me to express myself through wearable pieces.

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What differentiates flavour like fancy from other gift shops

At Flavour like fancy I aim to celebrate work that is bold, colourful and speaks with passion. Everything we stock is something that I like and admire, and in ways it’s an extension of my personality formed by the strong creative community that I am surrounded by. In terms of the décor I was keen to capture that same level of fun and excitement from the stock we sell in the overall shop layout and aesthetic of the brand. Which is why our brand colours feature vibrant pastel shades of pink, yellow, and turquoise.

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I understand you moved to Leads to pursue your passion in Jewellery making, when did you decide to create a shop for creatives and why?

I started making jewellery in 2015 and by 2016 it became a growing passion that I wanted to pursue and once a decision was made to move up North, I saw it as an opportunity to try and make my hobby into something more. Once set up in Leeds, I was able to meet a lot of talented makers. I was able to identify a gap in the market for gift shops in Leeds selling unique and locally made work that reflected the fun and vibrancy of indie markets and popular craft fairs. Fox example DIY Art Market and Crafty Fox to name a few. Seeing the lack of opportunities for makers really inspired me to set up the shop and create a space which I loved.

What has surprised you the most about running a gift shop?

I am mostly surprised by the support received for Flavour like Fancy by the makers who form the indie businesses that stock within the shop and the local community. When I initially set up the shop I had researched, planned and felt fairly confident that I had forged a unique proposal but to some extent I was completely unaware of how it would be received. Fast forward a year later, I have gained such a positive response, which I am grateful for and has   made me feel good about the future of the business.

What were some of the challenges that you faced when you first started?

Upon opening Flavour like Fancy everything was a challenge as it was all new to me and outside of my business plan. I quickly realised that I had to adapt ways of working to suit the area and customer demographic.  I spent a lot of time trialling items as part of a sale and return proposal and building a range of items which suited the customer needs once I was able to see trends in what was being brought / requested.

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What were some of the mistakes that you made at the beginning and how did you rectify them?

The biggest mistake I would say is going against my instinct. In every new business I think it is important to gain advice from other businesses and listen and learn from their mistakes. When starting out, I made a point to avoid doing things that had not been successful for others. In a way, this hindered my own progress in terms of stock and promotion gained from attending markets. I just decided one day that it was important to see how things went for my business and in so doing regained confidence in myself.

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How do you handle running a business and raising a family?

In October I became a first-time mum and while in many ways, lockdown has made things a little easier it has also had its difficult moments. I’ve realised that I am not superwoman nor should I endeavour to be, the most important thing Is health, well-being and not being afraid to ask for help. I think in particular when you are self-employed it’s easy to feel like you have to manage everything in spite of what goes on personally. I have recently taken on a member of staff to support during the first few months which is such a relief and gives me a chance to settle into family life whilst working at my own pace from a distance.

How did you handle marketing when you first opened?

Initially the majority of marketing activity was done online via social media, community groups as well as old school flyers. I found these were the most cost-effective ways to support my new business and reach my target audience.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business in the same space?

Do your research and really consider your proposal and how it differs to that of your competitors. I recommend completing a business plan even if you do not require funding, as this helps you to formulate the necessary questions in your mind, to determine whether this is the right business idea for you. It’s also worth thinking about whether you are prepared to be self-employed – Having your own business carries the reward of being your own boss but it’s also very risky and has no holiday allowances etc, so it’s important to really want it and be 100% invested in your vision.

If you are looking for a birthday present for someone or you want to support creators, then visit flavour like Fancy here

Conscious Skin Care: Meet the founders of Earth to Earth Organics

Earth to Earth Organics is a sustainable skin care company that was started by husband and wife team, Tenesia (Tee) and Danny (Dan) Pascal in 2016. The company produces and sells a range of body oils, body washes and body butters via their online store.

These products were created out of necessity by Tee, who at the time had developed health and skin problems, following her relocation to England from Guyana. The change in climate, hardness of the water and processed foods had led to rashes all over her body. The couple couldn’t find anything in the market that was cost effective and that healed Tee’s skin.  This took Tee on a journey of research and experimenting with different products, until she found a winner in flagship body butter called “Magic Cream”.

Earth to Earth Organics is an environmentally conscious alternative to chemical- containing skin care products that are widely available on the high street. The company’s body butters do not contain water, thus providing the rawest and most natural product and experience to customers.

I caught up with Dan and Tee on a mildly warm Sunday afternoon to discuss skin care, Aunties Magic Cream, environmental sustainability and the couple’s journey with Earth to Earth Organics thus far.

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What is your background and what inspired you to start this business?

Dan: I started working at the BBC straight after university. I co-run and manage the studios for some of the shows that we produce across our sites at Elstree Centre, Television Centre and BBC White City. After we got married in 2014, I had an epiphany to want to do something that changed the world for the better. I wanted to lead a purposeful life and felt that with Earth to Earth Organics brand, we would be able to build something that was aligned with our ethos.

Tee: I worked at Marks and Spencer and was responsible for shop floor layout and team management. I embarked on this journey after developing health and skin problems shortly when I moved to England from Guyana. I didn’t want to use anything that was not natural to heal my skin, so I tried to solve these issues by changing my diet to a more natural one.

When we changed our diet, we became more conscious about environmental issues. We started understanding more about the natural environment around us and realised this was our passion. As such, as part of our ethos, we plant trees with ‘One Tree Planted’, we are helping clean up plastics through our partnership with ‘Clean Hub’ and in Guyana we help children who have lost their parents by supporting them through school. These activities as well as our products reinforce our focus and passion for environmental sustainability.  

What is the unique selling point of Earth to Earth Organics Skin care products?

Tee: We don’t use any chemicals, chemical preservatives and additives in our products. Our products have no age limit, so anyone can use them, you just need to have skin. We believe this makes us stand out in the market.

Dan: Aside from our products, sustainability is something that is very important to us. You can see this for example in our packaging, which is 90% plastic free. We also partner with Clean hub, to clean up plastic waste in some of the most deprived places in the world. This I believe also makes us unique from other skin care brands.

How did you start developing these products and how did you know which ingredients to use?

Tee: I couldn’t find anything on the market for my skin rash, that was natural, cost effective and that could heal my skin. Therefore, I started researching natural ingredients and took some courses to further my knowledge. After trying different combinations of products, I found a winning formular that worked for me.

This was cemented by my nephew, who developed eczema and used my body butter to cure it. He coined it ‘Aunties Magic Cream’. Dan also fell in love with the body butter so we stopped using any shop bought products and only used products that we created.  For me, this was a sign that we were onto something and encouraged me to develop more products, which have been greatly received by our customers.

Are there specific certificates that you need for your products before you can sell them to the general public?

Dan: All our products are safety tested and suitable for public use. Due to the fact we don’t use water in them, the safety verification process is more straight forward for us.

What are some of the challenges you faced when you started?

Tee: Knowing how to run a business. We knew there would be a regulatory aspect, given we are in the skin care business. However, there was a lot more to learn about running a business, such as finance and marketing. It was a steep learning curve for us, which involved talking to experienced people, research and then implementing best practice.

Dan: We both have backgrounds in customer services, so we knew how to deal with customer issues and queries when they arose. However, everything else has been new to us. For example, we didn’t know that when labeling a product, you have to use the scientific names of all ingredients used. Although it has been challenging, we have learnt a lot along the way.

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Earth to Earth Organics

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What were some of the mistakes that you made in your earlier years?

Dan: We made some mistakes when we first started, which is to be expected. One of our earlier mistakes was when we sent our first order to a customer. I made a mistake on the shipping, which meant that postage was more expensive than the product I was sending.  It was a small difference of around £1 but of course it’s not something I wanted to repeat.

Tee: When making our product labelling, we hadn’t considered that our bottles could get wet, depending on where customers were storing them. This would affect the quality of our labels over time. We learnt from that experience and as a result, we make our labels waterproof.

How did you handle marketing when you first started selling your products?

Tee: At the moment we’ve only used Instagram, where we ask our customers a lot of feedback as part of our marketing strategy. This has helped us make a lot of changes, for example having consistent branding on our website and Instagram page.

What is your bestselling product?

Tee: Our magic butter, which is our first product, is the best seller. Most of our new customers are introduced to our brand via this product. A lot of our customers with skin problems like eczema have found that our magic cream helps them alleviate it. Subsequently, they then recommend our magic butter to their family and friends.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business in the same space?

Tee: I would say be authentic to yourself, do your research and be transparent with your customers. One of the things that our customers like about us is that we are always honest with them and we listen to their feedback.

Dan: My advice would be don’t worry about every little thing, just start it.

Where can people buy your products today?

We sell all our products via our website

Matugga Distillers: Scottish rum with an African Soul

Rum distillery isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Scotland, and that’s a big part of why husband and wife team, Paul and Jacine Rutasikwa established their Livingston based distillery, Matugga Rum in 2018. The company produces a multi award winning range of distinctive, artisan rums from scratch using 100% copper pot distillation. Matugga’s products are distributed across the UK and EU from its family owned distillery in Livingston, Scotland. “This is a unique undertaking for the UK, as currently most companies involved in the rum business usually import it from the Caribbean or South America”, explains Jacine Rutasikwa.

“We have chosen the very hard undertaking of making it from scratch in a much colder climate and all the challenges that that brings”, says Jacine Rutasikwa

The company’s portfolio of rums is a clever fusion of the founders’ heritage – Paul was born in Uganda and Jacine has proud Jamaican roots. To date, Matugga distillers produce a range of rum styles, such as white rum, spiced rum and cask aged golden dark rum. These are all sold directly to the public via their online store. The couple also hold rum tastings, and tours of their distillery in Livingston, where you can enjoy some of their produce while learning about the rum making process.

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How did it start?

The idea for Matugga rum took seed in 2014, when the couple were due to spend Christmas with Paul’s family in Uganda. They had just had their first child and Jacine, who worked in corporate marketing was looking for ways to achieve a better work -life balance. “I wanted to spend more time with my daughter when she was still young” she recalls. “I felt bad going back to work when she was nine months old and putting her into nursery”. The couple spent 3 months in Uganda and “by the end of the three months we decided to start a business”, says Jacine.

That business was making rum. “I married into a beautiful Ugandan family and spent a lot of time in Uganda where I had seen lots of sugar cane”.”I was asking for rum and I was never able to get any. I found this very confusing and it got us thinking”. ’Why is there no rum coming out of Uganda, when there is sugar cane here?’ she says. “When we started doing our research, we couldn’t see any spirits that were linked to Africa on the world stage, and certainly not in the rum category. There was also a lack of representation in terms of black owners.  It became our mission to showcase Africa in the world of fine spirits but at the same time, we also filled a number of voids.”

“We had the idea to launch Matugga not having any experience in the sector”

Together the couple began to learn more about rum, while pondering how to make their own East African variety. “We had the idea to launch Matugga not having any experience in the sector” says Jacine, “We saw a gap in the market and went for it”. The rum represents an interesting duality between the UK and Africa, which no other brand was doing at the time. “The one thing that is spiced across East Africa is tea,” says Paul. “It doesn’t matter where you go, you’ll find masala chai in all homes and restaurants around East Africa”, he added. “We therefore selected five spices from this – ginger, cloves, vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon – plus the tea to go into our Matugga Spiced rum.” The couple also had the innovative idea for Matugga Golden rum. A smokey rum, which combines the flavours of whisky and rum, appealing to fans of both spirits.

“Our business went from selling mostly over weekends to an exporting business in less than 6 months”

They launched in August 2015, producing their flagship Matugga Golden and Spiced rums through a contracted distillery in London. “I was in charge of the tasting side of things and Jacine led the brand and design development” Paul reflected, “Between us we managed to put out a really good product which we launched not knowing how it would be received”. Matugga rum was showcased six months later at the London rum festival, where its bold and distinctive taste lead to the couple securing their first export contract with a French distributor. This early success gave Jacine and Paul the validation to consider running this business full time and on a bigger scale.

“Our business went from selling mostly over weekends to an exporting business in less than 6 months. It was at that point that we realised that we had something serious that needed our full devotion” Paul explained.

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Matugga rum

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Moving to Scotland:

“Paul being the engineer, I kept telling him that he’d make a great head distiller”, says Jacine. Already a self-confessed ‘sprits geek’, Paul was able to hold his own when discussing rum production and flavours with rum authorities but felt he needed a formal education to solidify his knowledge. “When we looked around at where I could get that education, it was only Scotland”, says Paul. They moved their family to Scotland, where Paul began to study for an MSc in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

“We didn’t know anyone and the only certainty we had was Paul’s place at university and the vision of what we wanted to create” explains Jacine. “Moving to Scotland was a huge change and dislocation between us and our big close nit families, but we could see that we could bring this vision to life in Scotland”.


[Read: Female restaurateur, from working in a bookshop to owning a restaurant and property portfolio]

Matugga rum distillery:

Following Paul’s completion of his degree, the couple secured a facility in Livingston where they started production of Matugga rum in 2018, making it the first rum distillery in central Scotland. This was no mean feat, given the challenge of running a distillery and the lengthy process of obtaining all the required licenses. With Paul taking the reigns as master distiller and Jacine managing the marketing and branding of the products, this formidable team managed to persevere in order to achieve their dream.

One of the other challenges that they have faced over time, is having to change the reputation of rum from a commodity drink to something that can be as complex and classy as cognac or wine. The company achieves this with their inventive flavours. Recently they have introduced a new brand called ‘Liv’, a white rum who’s name means ‘life and living’ in the Nordic languages. “It’s very much our Scotland forward brand and highlights the natural produce of Scotland”, explained Jacine. It’s clear to see that Matugga is helping to create an identity around Scottish rum, therefore bringing leadership to the rum category in Scotland.

The ongoing situation with the global pandemic presents a new and challenging trading landscape for Matugga rum. At the beginning of the pandemic the company pivoted to making hand sanitizer to support the Scottish health Services. However, with the business environment continuing to change for Jacine and Paul, this has meant adapting to the situation by providing more digital experiences and focusing on the ecommerce side of the business. “In Scotland we are part of a network of distillers, which has been really helpful as we have learnt to adapt and bounce back as a community”, says Jacine.

Not ones to be defeated, the couple plans to continue pushing boundaries and innovating. They plan to strengthen the brand’s ties to East Africa over the next 3 years, by growing their own sugar cane in Uganda. This will be turned into molasses, which will then be transported to Scotland and used in the production of Matugga rum. Paul explained that “this will link Matugga and Liv to ‘Teebwa’, which means soil and climate of Uganda”


From Environmental Scientist to Pottery business owner

Naked Clay Ceramics is a collection of tactile, minimal style tableware and is owned by Carla Sealey. Using a combination of handbuilding and slip casting, everything is made by hand in Carla Sealey’s studio in Bedfordshire.

I started this business because I wanted to make something that was special and intentional. I am all about being intentional “, explains Carla. Her passion for art can be seen in her exquisitely handmade home-ware, which she sells online.

We spoke to the woman behind Naked Clay Ceramics to hear about her background, starting Naked Clay Ceramics and her passion of ceramic.

1. What is your background?

I originally qualified as a geologist and chemist followed by 14 years of working in the environmental sector. In my earlier years I worked for a private water company based in the West Midlands, where I was the only black woman and 1 of only 3 women who were in a non-clerical role. I later moved to the Environment Agency, where again for most of my employment I was the only black woman until another black woman was employed as a PA a couple of years before I left. In my scientific and managerial position, I was responsible for the prevention of pollution of groundwater supplies for drinking water.

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2. How did you get into that profession and what was it like?

This was back in the 80s, so it was a very bold move by the guy who hired me at the water company in the West Midlands. I was an anomaly on so many levels because I had come from London, lived in a house share and I was not married, which was very weird for them back then.

It wasn’t a hostile environment but people were certainly ignorant and would say stupid things, which made it challenging at times. You just had to take it in your stride and deal with the ignorance as best as you could.

I enjoyed my time working at the National Rivers Authority. I loved getting out to the countryside. As field officers we spent our time driving around the country talking to farmers, landfill owners, scrap yard dealers and I loved it.  However, after merging with several organisations, we became part of the Environmental Agency. I realised that I was the lowest paid middle manager despite the fact that there were other people with less experience and qualifications than me.

[Read: How this black business man started his business during a recession]

3. When and why did you start Naked Clay Ceramics?

I had what they call a perfect storm where all things fell apart, so I took that opportunity to rebuild and refocus. In 2003 I decided to go back to university to train as an applied artist. Following that I started a glass studio and also did ceramic sculptures. In 2015 having moved to a new studio, I realised that I needed to rethink the commercial side to my business. I had been buying handmade mugs for 20 years and so I thought ‘You spend money buying them, why don’t you make your own?’. That’s why I ended up developing a range of ceramic cups, plates and bowls in 2017.

We all have our little morning rituals around food and drink that ease us gently into the day, whether its tea, coffee, juice, a favourite breakfast. I wanted to make something so that first thing in the morning you have something that pleases your senses. Something that was tactile, so that it feeds into your senses. For example, it looks beautiful when you see it, feels beautiful when you hold it, you use it when you are eating something that tastes good or smells good. My homeware products provide this peaceful experience.

Carla Sealey

4. How did you start?

After graduation from my Art degree I started making glass and jewellery in my utility room but eventually found studio space where I could also do ceramics. A friend kindly lent me some money which I used to buy a kiln. The equipment you need can be expensive, so I had to adapt my way of working to what I could afford in order to get things done.

5. How did you market your products when you started? Is it different from what you do now?

I do most of my marketing through my Naked Clay Ceramics Instagram page. Before the pandemic, I was doing a number of regular selling events where I could catch up with my customers face to face. I keep my community updated on all my events and my online shop openings via my newsletter. I have also used paid advertising, in a magazine called 91 Magazine, an independent interiors and lifestyle print magazine that’s very supportive of small businesses. Thanks to the work of a photographer friend, I was also featured as maker of the month.

Recently, since that start of Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a sudden interest in black owned businesses and a lot of free advertising for my business. It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand it’s great that small black owned businesses are finally getting the attention they need. Especially given the difficulties in getting support from institutional lenders, and the lack of access to other traditional funding sources that black businesses have to overcome when they start out. On the other hand, it hurts my soul that it took the very public murder of yet another black man for people to wake up to the racial inequalities that are still very present in our society and institutions.

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6. What makes your ceramics different?

I don’t glaze the outside of my pieces and I am one of a few people who work with black clay for functional objects.

With glazed pieces there is a shiny coating that Is placed over the clay. With my pieces you are touching the actual clay that’s been fired in the Kiln. I do glaze the inside as it makes it more sanitary, especially as people use these products with hot food and drinks. Hence the glazing inside makes it easier to clean and makes it more functional.

7. Where do you get inspiration for your pieces?

I would say nature. My products are minimalist so as to create a soothing and meditative feel to them, just like being outside. I’m fortunate that my studio is on an old plant nursery in a slightly wild but lovely, peaceful, natural environment and so I use this to inspire me.

Naked Clay Ceramics

8. What is your most popular product?

There are two products which I find are popular among my customers. The mugs, (there’s always room in everyone’s kitchen for another mug!) and miniature vases, which are used for small wild flowers. They don’t take up much room and they can be collectables

[Read: Female restaurateur, from working in a bookshop to owning a restaurant and property portfolio]

9. How has your business been impacted by Covid 19?

Initially I thought it was a disaster. However, because I have my online shop, people continued to buy my products as they were at home, still getting paid and clearly wanted to treat themselves as a bit of a cheer up. Also, as a result of Black Lives Matter, I have seen an increase in orders especially from America. From product sales side, my business has fared well during the pandemic. However, I do pottery classes in my studio and due to the pandemic, they all had to be cancelled.

10. Where can people find your products?

I have an online shop and I am able to ship products internationally. My products are also stocked in Thrown Contemporary Gallery in London and the Kettles Yard Shop in Cambridge. As I mentioned I also provide pottery workshops. During the class we make functional products by rolling out the clay, forming it around shapes. The workshops last for half a day and at the end of it you have made a pair of mugs, a candleholder or a breakfast set which I then fire for you

11. What are your plans for the rest of 2020 and 2021?

My plans are to get a bigger kiln, move to a bigger studio and hopefully add to my product range. I would also like to get back into doing more sculptural work and installations.

Thank you for sharing your story with us Carla. See more from Carla on her website and Naked Clay Ceramics Instagram page.

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Interview with Joanna Trotman

Taking Care of Big Hair

Do you or your kids have big hair? Are you frustrated and tired of chlorine filled pool water getting into your hair even after your best efforts e.g. using two swimming caps at a time?  Well look no further because JoRae has got you covered.

Founded by long term London based friends Joanna and Rachel, this swimming cap company caters to people with big hair.  

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Joanna shares more:

What inspired you to start this business and where are you in your business journey?

We started the business because we found a gap in the market primarily for our children who love swimming but there were no suitable swimming caps on the market for us. We wanted them to enjoy the sport whilst keeping their hair protected. This had us thinking of all the other mothers and families that are prevented from taking part in water activities. Therefore, myself and Rachel developed this product to solve this problem.

Our small family run business is still in its infancy. We endeavor to make water activities accessible to many more families alike.

JoRae swimming cap models

Did either of you have prior experience that made you feel suitable for this type of business?

Not at all. I work in IT and Rachel works in Youth services. We just saw a gap in the market for people like us with big hair.

So how do you split the workload between both of you?

I handle all the technology and online presence and Rachel deals with the administration side of things.

Tell us an interesting thing about you that not many people know about

I competed in the long jump for team GB and was a Wimbledon ball girl during the 1996-1997 championships

Where can people find your products?

All products are available on our website

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