LUCY Burns grew up in Northern Ireland but it took a journey halfway across the world to discover the artistic passion that is at the heart of her business.
Now that passion has been backed with a Dorset Community Foundation South West Enterprise Fund grant.
The 24-year-old studied art at university in Belfast but couldn’t find a medium that enthused her. It was only on a trip around Australia that she found herself in a pottery studio. “I was missing art and looking for something when I came across this amazing pottery studio in Brisbane run by a mother and daughter. I had a few lessons and I absolutely fell in love with it,” she says.
“I was going there every week and was so there so often they eventually offered me a job. I was cleaning up and helping out in return for using the studio and that’s when I started to get better at it.”
Further travels to Indonesia and New Zealand cemented the love of the medium and after developing her talent at a studio in Wellington – and meeting her partner Sonnie – she returned to the UK to his home town of Bridport.
“When I made the decision to come home I decided I either wanted to get an apprenticeship with a really good potter or to set up my own studio and start a business,” she says. “This little studio on a farm in Uplyme just outside Lyme Regis came up through a friend, it’s a tiny little barn but it is really, really perfect. I call it The Pot Place and set up my own business there in 2021.”
She specialises in making kitchen and homeware with a sustainable theme, which she sells at Bridport Market every Saturday. “I like to promote ceramic sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics, such as coffee cups and keep bowls with silicone lids and loose leaf tea strainers,” she says.
“I also make mugs, egg cups and hanging planters. My biggest sellers are the coffee cups and it’s a good conversation starter. I get a lot of word of mouth sales.”
Having the grant definitely gave me breathing space and some belief that I am doing the right thing and that I’m good at it
After a good 2021, 2022 has been a little slower, partly she thinks because of the cost of living crisis. She heard about the South West Enterprise grant through a friend and applied.
“The application process for me was really easy and it was quite good to reflect on what I’ve done over the last few years,” she says. “There’s a lot of questions about the financial side that have been really useful and writing down a plan for how I’d spend the money really made me think differently about improving the business.”
After submitting her business plan and having an interview with SWEF founders Nick Robinson and Giles Smallwood she was delighted to hear she had been awarded £1,500.
“I was so grateful to get it and it has really helped me,” she says. “It really nice that someone has shown belief in me. I was actually wondering about stopping selling pottery for a while and getting a full time job because it was so hard to be able to afford the raw materials because the prices have gone up so much.
“I started to wonder if I was good enough but having the meeting with Nick and Giles and hearing them say they love my ideas was really nice and refreshing. It definitely gave me a big boost.”
She is using the grant to buy a new stock of silicone lids and raw materials and is investing in a new website so I she sell online. She has also started selling her wares at festivals.
“Having the grant definitely gave me breathing space and some belief that I am doing the right thing and that I’m good at it,” she says. “I want to travel some more to get some new inspiration but I really love what I am doing and I am so grateful for the help and belief I’ve had shown in me.”
See Lucy’s work on Instagram at @lulus_own.