It's Made in UK Day today. I chatted live this morning on Instagram with Kate Hills (Make It British) about why I choose to manufacture in the UK, and I've continued to think about it through the day.
For me it made perfect sense sell mugs made in the UK, and it never occurred to me to make them anywhere else. The inspiration for my art is rooted in an English garden. I grew up in a Kent village, in a pretty mill house that was once almost derelict, but which was nurtured and nursed back to health and beauty by my parents.
I grew there just as the plants and garden did and went on to become an avid gardener, a garden designer - working on gardens in London and the south east - and an artist passionate about plants and flowers. All of this has grown from my upbringing in a Kent garden, and as a result the products I make have a very English feel.
The art I make is handmade in my garden studio in Kent, and the flowers I draw are all from an English garden. I don't just want to look like a British brand, I want to be an authentic British brand. So when I started to think about putting my artwork on mugs, it was only natural that I should look to the UK.
First and foremost I wanted to find the best quality fine bone china. I quickly discovered that British fine bone china is of the highest quality. Not only that, but there was only one remaining pottery in the UK which made 100% British fine bone china using only Cornish clay - Duchess China 1888. It didn't take me long to start working with them.
As a maker I really don't know how the process would have worked if I had used a pottery abroad - being able to go to the pottery in person, meet the people, see other examples of their work and be walked through the process was invaluable, and while it's 3 1/2 hours to drive from Kent to Stoke for a visit it's a great deal closer than a trip to China or India. Having that personal contact with real people cannot be underestimated, as well as drawing on the many years of heritage and experience that they hold.
British made products are great for British consumers too. As a consumer I'm doing all I can to make small changes in my day-to-day life to be mindful of the environment. These include using reusable kitchen cloths instead of kitchen towel, for example, washing detergent on paper strips instead of in a big plastic bottle, using only solid soap and shampoo in the bathroom. We can't all do everything but we can each do a little. One small thing we can all do to help the environment and be more susta
inable is to buy products made in the UK instead of those that have been shipped across the globe to get to us with an enormous carbon footprint.
Great quality products made in the UK are often more expensive. I was brought up by parents who always bought the best quality they could afford and made it last. That's what I love about brands made in Britain - their products are built to last. This means the cost-per-use of these products tends to be a lot lower in the long run.
I get a good feeling when I know that the people who make the mugs for me get a fair wage; the workers at the pottery have good working conditions, health and safety and employment rights. There are regulations for factories in the UK with regard to pollution control. None of these things can be guaranteed when manufacturing abroad.
To check out my totally British fine bone china mugs go to the website and browse!
If you're thinking of buying British mugs here are some tips:
If it only says 'hand decorated in the UK' it's not made in the UK.
If it only says 'hand finished in the UK', it's not made in the UK.
If the brand you are buying from are not transparent about where their products are made, they're likely not made in the UK.