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Perth artist combined passion and talent to create ceramics business

Ceri White utilises old age pottery methods to create unique works.

Cari White ceramics in Perth. Image: GrowBiz
Cari White ceramics in Perth. Image: GrowBiz

Based inside a workshop within Wasps Creative Exchange Perth, Ceri White creates modern ceramics for homes using intricate patterns and designs.

Throughout her time at Aberdeen’s Grey’s School of Art, Ceri has kept up her passion for colour and design.

Ceri works on her own to produce each item and utilises old age pottery methods, starting with a ball of clay and continuing through two kiln firings and numerous decoration procedures to produce the final product.

Ceri told The Courier more about how it all began, her biggest mistakes, greatest achievements and more.

How and why did you start in business?

I fell headlong into it when the tile-making studio I was working for closed.

In two weeks I had bought the equipment, taken over the studio lease and was off making decorative tiles of my own without a pause for reflection.

How did you get to where you are today?

I moved to Perthshire from Leith 20 years ago and immediately joined a committee of artists working to make things happen in Perthshire. Best thing I ever did: in the blink of an eye, I made friends and the wider creative community got to know my name.

I found myself at the start of several creative-led initiatives.

The most recent game-changer for me was moving into the WASPS creative exchange studio complex in Perth four years ago.

It gave me an immediate creative, vibrant community of like-minded professionals I see every day. It’s enabled me to go for bigger shows and generally kick things up a notch.

Who has helped you along the way?

Too many individual creative friends to name. You find that you have a huge support network when you tap into it! My customers and social media followers have been amazing.

GrowBiz – mainly via its creative arm, Perthshire Artisans – has been great this past year, really raising my local professional profile and connecting me with others.

Cari White makes her ceramic pieces unique. Image: GrowBiz.

What was your biggest mistake?

A big one was sticking for years with producing something that I liked aesthetically, but I was bored making, resulting in me just avoiding it and a lot more besides. I would procrastinate for months.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

I was over the moon at the end of last year when Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums bought three of my pieces for their Archive Collection through their modern acquisitions programme.

Aberdeen was the city I studied in at Gray’s School of Art, and my dad was an Aberdonian himself, so the connection means something to me.

It is a beautiful museum, with a fantastic collection and I spent hours in there as a student, never having a clue that future me would have a presence there.

How has the cost of living crisis impacted your business?

It is incredibly frustrating when you work long hours, finally start seeing an actual living is possible, and suddenly it is all devalued as every other basic necessity is rocketing.

I run a kiln and my studio rent contributes to the running of the building, so all those costs have gone up considerably. Add that to the damage reeked by Brexit, it’s not easy.

The spending habits of previously comfortable ceramics fans have changed fairly drastically too. Caution is more evident. People still need a bit of joy for sure and want to treat themselves in a considerate way.

What do you hope to achieve in the future?

Any sort of equilibrium/life balance. Honestly, I will be happy to continue with building my profile, making and selling work I can be proud of that people enjoy, but without giving myself regular burn-out.

Every piece is made using traditional pottery techniques. Image: GrowBiz.

Do you want to recruit in the future?

No. Some sort of PA fairy would be amazing, but this is a one-woman band.

What is the hardest thing about running your own business?

The admin avalanche. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you what half of it is, but it’s always there, trying to bury you. And the Holy Grail of work/life balance – the hunt goes on.

Any advice to wannabe entrepreneurs?

Don’t undervalue your work or yourself. Enjoy the main aspect of what you do because you’ll probably be spending long hours doing it. Ask for help from your community and any advisory bodies like GrowBiz or Business Gateway.

Take what you need from these things to fit yourself. Be your own biggest fan. Why not? You should love what you have to offer as much as anyone.