Have you seen my collection with Anthropologie? Feminine details, gold flourishes, watercolor glazes, and organic shapes; it's everything Suite One Studio is known for. What makes this collection so special is that the entire process is pure collaboration between Anthropologie and Suite One Studio. I'll continue to share details about our partnership in upcoming posts, for now I want to take you behind the scenes to talk specifically about the Mimira Mug.
One quick look at the Suite One Studio site and it's clear that this is a mug-free zone. As a trained potter I know how to make mugs, but for years I've intentionally kept them out of my collection. Weird, right? Well, my reasoning is simple-- I really hate making mugs! They're so time intensive to do correctly, and porcelain is a tricky clay, especially when adding attachments like handles. Even though I didn't offer mugs for sale on the site, I was still making them on my own time and obsessing about the tiniest details (angle of the rim, thickness of the lip, roundness of the belly so it fits perfectly in hand), hoping to find a way to offer them in the future.
When Anthropologie asked if I'd ever considered making a mug, I was all, "Umm yes. And I have samples at the ready. Let's do this!" The final mug is the result of our collaborative design process and rounds of sampling that began with the handmade originals I sent to the Anthropologie home team.
One of the biggest changes from my originals is the final size of the Mimira mug. Porcelain shrinks a lot, like 13% from wet clay to fired clay, so you have to factor that in from the beginning. Try as I might, I haven't quite gotten this shrinkage planning down for mugs yet and they always end up way smaller than planned. I asked their team to keep this in mind when reviewing my samples and to please go larger if they thought that was the right choice for their customers.
Each of the items in my collection with Anthropologie is manufactured overseas through their factory relationships, based on my handmade originals. Letting go of the making process was initially challenging as I've always made everything for the Suite One Studio collection on site in my small, North Carolina studio. It's been a wonderful experience letting go of that aspect for this partnership and it's allowed us to create these items on a much larger volume, stocking worldwide, and freed me up to do more of what I love-- designing beautiful tableware products!
If you're a designer or maker reading this post and you're wondering how to go about working with other companies, one of the best pieces of advice I can give is to make what you wish existed (but doesn't already). This will set your products apart from the rest and chances are pretty good that companies will eventually find you because of this. Already making those unique items? The next big step is to get your work out there, make it visible. Go where your customers and potential brand partners already are. We're glued to our phones, so everyone is online somewhere. Get your products in front of the right eyes by thinking about where those people already are. Once you've done that and you're beginning to talk collaboratively with other businesses, it's important to approach these relationships respectfully and equally. Whenever I work with a company one of the first things I do is learn more about them: their goals, their products, and their customers.
These are some of the active steps I took when partnering with Anthropologie. When I sent those initial mug samples I immediately mentioned the sizing issues I perceived as a designer. But I mentioned this as an opinion and asked them to please do what they thought best for their customers. Because even though this is a Suite One Studio collection, it's most importantly a Suite One Studio exclusively for Anthropologie collection, and the ultimate success of the partnership relies on our ability to create a kickass product their customers will love, together.
I'll be sharing more about collaboration and how I'm continuing to grow my business throughout this year. I'd love to hear from you with any specific questions you may have! Curious about how I set up my dot com, how I learned to edit my photos without a photography background, or how I use Instagram to grow my brand? Please use the comment section below to ask away!