Guest Blog - Karina Rickards AKA Cornishware Artist
Our artist spotlight this week shines on Karina Rickards. Karina is a great communicator who has been immersed in creativity from a young age. She is now well known as the face of Cornishware ceramics.
Designed and first made in 1924, Cornishware is now a global, household brand name, but this quintessential British product with its timeless blue and white design, was almost lost. The difficulties of manufacturing traditional pottery in the UK are notoriously well known. So, when T. G. Green was forced into bankruptcy in 2007, 83 years of tradition could have disappeared, opening the door for cheaply made imitations being produced elsewhere.
Having bought the company in 2008 there has been an impressive revival and transformation by Karina and her husband Charles. Their collaboration has produced a very progressive brand and, although they are constantly adding value, Cornishware remains reassuringly traditional and is fabulously popular. The celebration of blue and white has been joined by punchy red, orange, green and sunny yellow.
Laura: As an entrepreneur and a free spirit, what made you buy Cornishware?
Karina: I was heavily pregnant, when my husband found out about Cornishware going under. I was about to give birth to our fifth child. I remember Charles telling me about it all and although our life was about to get a lot busier with five children to raise, we didn’t hesitate for a second. We ended up with a beautiful baby girl and an iconic ceramic business to raise from the ashes.
L: Having bought the company, what was the biggest challenge that you and your husband faced?
K: Our biggest challenge was to repatriate the business and train new skilled ceramicists. Many ceramic companies had decided to produce their wares overseas and it was a challenge to go against the flow and take the time to train local workers.
L: What advice would you give other artists and makers wanting to build their dream?
K: Be prepared to work all hours, forget nine to five. A Sunday feels like a Monday, but if you are passionate about your product/service and if you have no doubt, you are offering a top-quality product, then you’ll succeed.
L: Following you on Instagram is a masterclass in how to market what you have to sell, what advice would you give others on social?
K: Thank you! Well, just share your passion on social. I’m totally myself, I share my love of Cornishware and my daily ups and downs in producing our wares. Don’t be afraid to share when things don’t always go to plan, share your human side. My followers love our story, we all have a story to share. Go out there and share yours, you will soon notice your followers will enjoy it too and will get hooked.
L: Many artists and makers are both building their business and juggling being a mum, how do you balance work and parenting?
K: I have five children, the three eldest have flown the nest but my two youngest (11 and 15) are at home still. Tricky, it’s not always easy, especially during long summer holidays and home-schooling during lockdown. My children have had to adapt as I’m not always able to be around the house when busy working. There’s nothing wrong with asking a 15-year-old to make lunch (she’s actually better than me now!) or expecting my 11-year-old to make herself breakfast. I was brought up in quite an independent way and feel it has been helpful for me, up to this day. My parents are passionate people who have pursued their love of sailing and adventure with us in tow. We followed and respected their dream and I am proud of them, I’d like to think my children feel the same.
L: You are full of ideas, how do you balance everything?
Who is your sounding board?
K: My most creative time is from six o’clock until lunch time. Mornings are spent thinking and creating brand new story boards for social, as well as in the pottery with brand new products and colours etc.
During the afternoons I tend to switch off and paint at my wheel. I find it very relaxing.
I don’t have a sounding board at such. I share feel good stories, our Cornishware pottery and how it is made, warts and all, and also the joys of Cornwall, my lifestyle etc. Cornishware is a way of life, it’s much more than just stripes and that is what I am trying to portray on a daily basis.
L: What are you most proud of at this point in time?
K: I am proud of our dedicated team, of my husband and my children. We have managed to rescue an iconic heritage British brand and have brought it back to life for so many to enjoy, not just in the UK but also all around the world.
L: As the face of the brand, I feel Karina, that you have become a brand in your own right. What's next for Karina? I ask because I’ve got a background in fashion and I know you would love your own clothing label?
K: Thank you and yes, I have plans to start producing my own fashion label, starting with the ultimate stripy top and headband. I would also like to start my own jewellery design, there’s so much I would like to do, but one stripe at a time. I will always use finest quality material and it will be made in the UK, just like Cornishware.
L: You share so much with your customers and community, seeing you make Cornishware is always an absolute treat. I particularly love your meet the team page on your website, do you think the team would ever get a cameo role on social? I know you’re extremely proud of them.
K: I enjoy sharing the team behind Cornishware. Showing the skill behind our brand is terribly important to me, I want our fans to know about the hard work involved in making Cornishware. Not all of the stripy team are keen to be on social though and I totally respect that. A few of them don’t mind and are happy and proud to share their talents which makes highly engaging viewing.
L: Looking at Cornishware now perhaps it’s hard to remember how tough it was to resurrect. How have you learnt from the lessons of the past, how to avoid what previously led to bankruptcy?
Did this role find you or did you always know that your role in Cornishware would be artistic, decorating and social media etc?
K: That’s perhaps a question for my husband Charles. He’s the numbers man. We make a good team between the two of us, with his skills in finance and management, which have proven to be successful further afield, and my marketing know-how, together we are a stripy force. Both of us are passionate and determined to ensure that Cornishware is here to stay by also ensuring our brand keeps on employing locally we’re keeping an ancient craft alive.
L: Last but not least what surprises can we expect from Cornishware?
K: We have two new products in the pipe line, coming out this autumn. Can’t say more as I’m keen to keep it under wraps until a few days before the launch. We are also going to produce an Adder Green range for Christmas which will be released in November. We did the photo shoot last month with my daughter Rebecca, with Christmas music in the background, totally surreal but the dark green against our red looked absolutely fabulous, I am sure it will be a winner.
Thank you Karina, its been an absolute pleasure having you part of Guest Blog.
I now have to tell you that this will be the last Guest Blog of Series 1. We have shared with you the stories of 12 amazing creatives, all of whom have been an absolute pleasure to get to know. I hope you have enjoyed the series and that you have been inspired when learning about their journeys.
A huge thank you to all 12 for being a part of Designed & Created and for inspiring us.
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I am always keen to discover new creatives and show them off in the GB. If you know of any Artists or Creatives that you think would enjoy being interviewed please ask them to get in touch with me here