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Support helps Aberdeenshire pottery studio thrive

By Kyle Ritchie

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A pottery painting studio in Boddam has successfully enhanced its offering and increased its customer base after the owner received support, advice and signposting to funding worth £10,000 from Business Gateway.

Little Potters, a family-run pottery painting studio based in the village, offers a range of pottery that caters for all ages, abilities, and tastes.

People are encouraged to choose from a large range of bisque ceramics, which include ornaments and crockery, and to decorate their chosen item with the studio’s stencils, sponges, paintbrushes, and stamps.

Each item is then glazed in the studio’s high-gloss, food-safe oven, ready to collect within a week.

The family-run studio also boasts a build-a-bear factory, where children can choose from more than 20 teddy bear skins, as well as heart beats and different scents, to create their very own furry friend to take home.

After launching Little Potters in late 2020, business owner, Gemma Clark, had no choice but to close when Scotland entered its second lockdown.

Gemma Clark, founder and owner of Little Potters.
Gemma Clark, founder and owner of Little Potters.

Looking for a way to keep her newly launched business afloat, Gemma approached Business Gateway for help and advice.

Gemma benefitted from a range of Business Gateway’s start-up services, including support from a dedicated business adviser and specialist advice on company regulations, marketing, and funding.

This one to one support helped Gemma to develop the idea for paint-at-home kits, which were sold online to ensure Little Potters had a steady stream of income while the business was closed.

Gemma delivered her pottery to customers’ doorsteps for them to paint and decorate, and then collected each piece to fire and glaze, returning the finished product a week later.

She often received messages from customers to say how much they enjoyed having a therapeutic and creative activity to do throughout lockdown.

The kits are still a popular offering today for those who prefer to paint from the comfort of their own home.

Through Business Gateway, Gemma benefitted from HR support, and also attended a bookkeeping webinar which helped her to take control of her business’ finances.

Working with Business Gateway also resulted in Gemma receiving funding worth £10,000 from Aberdeenshire Council, which was critical for the survival of Little Potters.

Since launching, Little Potters has developed a range of bespoke party options, including slime, pottery painting, and make-a-bear parties, which are the perfect way to celebrate a children’s birthday.

The studio has also hosted ladies' nights and workshops to teach people about ceramic painting.

Little Potters has enjoyed continued success since launching, and even won in “the Spirit of Enterprise” category at the recent Elevator Awards, which took place on June 23.

Gemma said: “I was very new to the business world when I started Little Potters, with no real experience, and knew I would need support.

"My adviser was fantastic and offered really helpful advice during a tricky time, and also pointed me in the right direction for funding, which was critical for my business to stay afloat.

"I don’t think my studio would still be open if I hadn’t approached Business Gateway. I can’t thank them enough for all their help. They have really boosted my confidence.”

Catherine Homewood, Business Gateway adviser, said: “Little Potters is a fantastic example of how the Business Gateway service can really support and help diversify a business at a crucial time of need.

"We were able to support Gemma through a range of our start-up services and signposted her to funding that helped her survive and thrive.

"It has been great to watch the business go from strength to strength over the last year, and I’m sure it will prove very popular as we approach the summer holidays.”

To find out more about how Business Gateway can assist visit the www.bgateway.com website.

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