Business Advice

How to Start a Ceramics and Pottery Business

With an increased amount of customers looking for organic-looking items for their home, many potters have noticed a demand for handmade ceramic and pottery items.

Many professional and budding potters are making a viable business from producing limited-edition clay products that make the perfect addition to their customers’ homes.

What is a ceramics and pottery business?

Ceramics and pottery businesses are usually specialist businesses that focus on a specific type of clay product. There are different types of ceramics and pottery, which makes them distinctively different from each other.

Ceramists and potters will use different materials, although it is usually clay, to create beautiful pieces of both functional and decorative pieces of ceramics and pottery.

Is a ceramics and pottery business profitable?

Ceramics and pottery can be an extremely profitable business, however, there are a few things you should be aware of before you jump in.

Unlike other crafts, ceramics and pottery can be quite expensive from the get-go due to the specialist equipment you need. It is also a craft which may require quite a lot of trial and error before you nail the products you wish to sell.

Despite saying this, once you have nailed your product, the industry can be very profitable because of the time, skill and materials which are put into it.

How much does it cost to start a ceramics business?

Starting a ceramics studio will usually require you to buy some equipment, even if you plan on having a home-based pottery business.

Depending on what equipment you need and the price point you’re looking at, you can expect to spend anywhere from the hundreds to thousands of pounds.

Remember, this price will likely include the equipment for your studio, the materials you need such as clay, branding costs if you choose to have external design help and website costs too.

What type of pottery sells the most?

Some of the most popular types of pottery include:

  • Handmade mugs
  • Dinnerware sets
  • Plant pots
  • Vases
  • Soap dishes
  • Decorative ornaments

What equipment do you need for a pottery business?

The main piece of equipment you will need for a pottery business is, of course, clay.

If you are interested in making decorative pieces, air dry clay is a really great material to use. There are other materials available too, but this is dependent on each individual potter and their preferences.

Other equipment you may need includes:

  • A potter’s wheel
  • Clays
  • Glazes
  • Trimming and shaping tools
  • Cut off wires
  • A potters needle
  • Drying racks

The legal side of selling pottery

Although it can be relatively easy to purchase the equipment you need for pottery, there are a few legal requirements when setting up and running your business.

Comply with fire safety legislation

As a business owner, you are responsible for fire safety in your premises, even if your studio is part of your home.

You should be conducting fire risk assessments, implementing fire safety measures, ensuring everyone in the building is aware of fire escapes and implementing emergency procedures.

Comply with retail and e-commerce legislation

Whether you are selling in physical stores or online, your products must be accurately described and visibly priced.

If you are selling online, you must also make your customers aware of their rights to cancel, privacy rights and comply with laws on distance selling.

Register as self-employed with HMRC

Running your business individually or as a self-employed person requires you to register as a sole trader.

You will need to register the name of your business, as well as keep records on your income, expenses and profits.

Register for self-assessment tax

This will allow you to calculate your taxes each year. You will need to track your finances accurately every month and submit any expenses as part of a tax assessment.

How to protect your pottery business

There are a few ways you can protect yourself and your pottery business, and there are several safety measures you should follow.

Control measures related to silica dust

Clays and glazes which are used with pottery produce dust particles containing free crystalline silica. Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations, you must take all necessary precautions to reduce exposure to silica dust.

The exposure to silica dust must be kept below the Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL). It’s a good idea to regularly conduct risk assessments and implement any necessary actions.

Comply with the Ceramic Articles in Contact with Food Regulations (2006)

If you are making ceramics that will be used for food or drink purposes, such as kitchenware, you must comply with Ceramic Articles in Contact with Food Regulations.

The regulations are in place to cover the levels of migration of lead and cadmium from ceramic surfaces that come into contact with food. You must issue a Declaration of Compliance with all of your relevant products.

Comply with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988)

Any original designs you make are given copyright under this act. This means you cannot use other potter designs either.

If you create your own designs, you should protect them by registering your designs with the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

What kind of insurance do you need for a pottery business?

It is vital you have the correct level of insurance to protect your business and your products. Not only this, but many craft fair organisers will insist you have the correct level of insurance in place to sell at craft fairs.

There are two main types of insurance that you need when making and selling pottery and ceramics. These are:

Public Liability Insurance covers your business from legal compensation costs that may arise due to public injury as a result of your products or business operations. In order to avoid the significant costs these issues could bring, you’ll need our comprehensive policy to cover your craft business.

The main risks that are covered by this type of insurance include: death and disablement of the public and loss of or damage to, third party property.

Product Liability Insurance covers your products through production, then supply and sale. You will again be protected from unwanted and extensive costs should an issue occur as a result of your goods, processes and/or packaging.

At CraftCover, we tailor make insurance packages to suit your specific business needs. Our industry-specific craft policies ensure that every aspect of your ceramic and pottery business is covered and protected.

Find out more about ceramic and pottery business insurance.

Where to sell handmade ceramics and pottery

Finding potential customers can be difficult, especially if you’re new to the pottery and ceramics industry.

Many potters choose to sell their products at craft fairs as it gives customers a chance to look at different products, see the detail which has gone into the craft and examine the shape and size of the products.

Alongside your regular pottery insurance package, at CraftCover, we can include specific craft fair insurance, giving you all the cover you need whilst selling your products direct to the public.

Common online platforms to sell handmade ceramics and pottery include:

  • Etsy
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Your own website
  • Folksy

You can learn more about where to sell your handmade products in our dedicated blog.

How to promote your pottery business

Social media is a great tool to use to promote your pottery business. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all great ways to visually show off your creations as well as engaging with your audience.

Social media is a useful tool to interact with your audience too. You can reply to comments, hold giveaways and even have interactive elements on stories.

You could also post in local community groups too, showcasing what services you provide. Just ensure the groups allow for this type of content before you start posting.

Starting a new craft business with CraftCover’s help

Starting a craft business can be extremely exciting, but you need to be prepared and protected from the beginning. At CraftCover, we’re dedicated to helping our crafters keep their business and beautiful goods protected with our comprehensive policies.

Just get in touch with the team to set your craft insurance up now!