Ashlee Hopkins creates beautiful pots and ceramics that resonate with moody, earthy tones and are a shoe-in to make a subtle yet strong statement in your home. Offering dreamy options to store fresh / dried plants and flowers in it, the speckled pieces of art come in a variety of shapes and forms – all of which are eye-catching and impressive to admire from near and afar.
In anticipation of her participation in the upcoming Bowerbird Market (May 3 – 5), I was able to conduct an e-interview with Ashlee about her business – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Ashlee?
Ashlee: I’m a 23 year old small business owner, creative and lover of house-plants.
Tema: What inspired you to open up your own business?
Ashlee: My craft slowly and naturally grew into a small business. During the last year of my Bachelor of Visual Arts, I had made a few custom coffee cups for Dawn Patrol Coffee, and participated in a few markets to sell some of my excess work. Upon completing my degree, I was accepted into the JamFactory’s rigorous Associate Training Program. During this two year program, my craft skills as a potter were quickly advanced, and I was encouraged to make small product lines and take jobs making work for local restaurants such as Magill Estate, Hentley Farm, Woodstock Coterie, New Nordic, and Anchovy Bandit. By the time I finished the program at the end of 2018, I had a well-rounded practice that was supporting me full-time. I now make the most of a variety of areas within my small business to keep busy, staying on as a teacher at JamFactory for classes that they run in conjunction with the ACH Group and with the Adelaide Central School of Art, wheel-forming for the JamFactory product line, making work within my JamFactory studio that I am selling at markets and through local stockists, and continuing to make work for local cafes and restaurants.
Tema: What made you focus on ceramics in particular?
Ashlee: While studying a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the University of South Australia, I took an elective in ceramics and accidentally fell in love with it. The tactility and versatility of clay opened new doors for me, and connecting the dots between a creative outlet and a commercially viable product line was exciting!
Tema: What does the creative process look like?
Ashlee: My creativity is process-led – most new ideas are formed while making, and refined upon reflection. Physical making is the best sketchbook for me, but during bouts of ‘creative-block’, I enjoy sketching out ideas and drawing inspiration from road trip landscapes and slow living principles.
Tema: How would you describe your style of ceramics to someone who is new to your product range?
Ashlee: A friend once told me that pots often look like the person who made them. My outfits are usually full of autumnal tones and soft textures OR are super bright. This makes sense when you see my collections of work – either appearing rustic and textural, or bright and bold.
Tema: How do you decide on what color combinations would work best, when creating your beautiful ceramics?
Ashlee: Lots and lots and lots of experimenting, until I find something that I love!
Tema: Do you primarily run an online store or do you have a physical shopfront / stockists around Adelaide / SA?
Ashlee: I currently stock my work in a few stores around Adelaide, including JamFactory and Her Name Was Nola. You’ll also find custom pieces for sale at Dawn Patrol Coffee in Kangarilla.
Tema: How did you get involved with the Bowerbird Market?
Ashlee: This is my first time at Bowerbird and I’m so excited to be participating in such an iconic event! I’m looking forward to meeting lots of new people, who are passionate about local craft and design, and showcasing new work to a huge audience!
Tema: Are there any other markets that you make a regular appearance at? If so, can you highlight some of them?
Ashlee: You’ll often find me at the Makers and Shakers held at Woodville Town Hall twice a year.
Tema: What do you think helps your business stand out from the rest in your industry?
Ashlee: In a time when ceramics is booming and the interest from consumers in the handmade is increasing, I feel its important to maintain integrity to yourself. Like a lot of other makers, each piece I make is a reflection of my love – not only of making ceramics, but of bringing little pieces of joy to daily rituals. However, by making sure that there’s always a bit of my personality in each piece, I hope people can always identify my work apart from others.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like your customers to know about you and your business?
Ashlee: I love making custom work for restaurants, cafes, and even dinner sets or bespoke items for people’s homes.
With thanks to Neon Moose for the interview opportunity
Images by Daniel Sutherland