September 9, 2012

The Emma Bridgewater Factory Tour

emma bridgewater factory
I seem to have made quite a habit of waking up at 5am this week. All for adventures that had nothing to do with one another. Wednesday’s reason was a huge departure from my daily life but an all-in-all fabulous change of scenery from styling, meetings, and events: I was invited to spend the day in Stoke-on-Trent and visit the factory of Emma Bridgewater!

Emma Bridgewater – as a businesswoman alone – is something to celebrate. Her fifteen-year-old eponymous ceramics company is British through and through: completely dedicated to making their products and sourcing their materials in the city they were launched in. While many companies would view that as a financial and logistical strain, Emma holds the proof in her pudding-holding products: turnover has grown from £30,000 in the first year to over £8 million today.

As inspirational as the story is, the factory tour only magnified my appreciation. The fettlers, platemakers, and decorators ran their individual areas like clockwork. Everyone was weaving through the Victorian factory in a way that felt sweetly Northern…all proud, all warm, all very hardworking. It was only until I went to decorate my own mug later in the day that I truly appreciated the difficulty in hand-painting precision! (A line of cupcakes had to unintentionally become flying cupcakes.)

In between the tour, lunch, and general meandering we stopped in the Kitchen Café (coffee, victoria sponge, and WiFi – need I say more?) and factory shops. One of the shops features all of their latest and greatest while the other is a discount outlet that features discontinued patterns and an Aladdin’s cave of samples. From an Emma Bridgewater personalised teapot to her personalised mugs and tongue-in-cheek Oyster card holders (see below!), there is definitely something for everyone in the Bridgewater brand.

The tour costs a whopping £2.50 (my morning latte was more expensive), which is redeemable against anything that you purchase in the shops. You can’t get any better than that.

emma bridgewater factory
emma bridgewater factory

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