Franchise owner creates ‘ceramic takeaway’ to survive Covid-19
We spoke to Popola Ceramico’s Jen Shek on how she has kept her pottery painting business going through lockdown.
By Laura Kingston
Popolo Ceramico is a personalised ceramics business, specialising in capturing baby and children’s hand and footprints on ceramics and paint-your-own pottery painting.
There are 15 branches throughout the UK and each franchisee comes into contact with hundreds of parents and young children each year, as they capture their prints and help them with paint-your-own pottery.
Jen Shek took over Popolo Ceramico Newcastle just over a year ago, whilst the branch itself has been established for nearly 10 years. Jen told us how she completely changed the way she worked to ensure that she could continue working safely and not endanger the lives of her customers or her family.
“When I first found out about the virus that was starting to sweep the UK, I had just finished the last of my orders for Mother’s Day 2020, and I was delivering them back to customers. Normally, I would be starting the run-up to Easter straight after Mother’s Day, which would mean exhibiting at lots of Easter Fairs, attending children’s classes, capturing prints and running paint-your-own pottery events. As the country went into lockdown and all events and fairs were cancelled, it was very clear that with no orders rolling in, my business along with many others were going to be affected. We had a virtual team meeting to discuss the best way to move forward.”
“We all agreed that the most important thing that we needed to do was to follow the government guidelines to make sure everyone stayed safe. Pottery painting is very therapeutic and it’s a great activity for families to take part in and to create precious memories, therefore we needed to think of a safe way to provide our services.
“That’s when we decided to completely change our business model and start operating as a ‘ceramic takeaway’ business providing doorstep drop-offs and collections.
“To ensure everyone stayed safe at home, we decided to implement a local delivery service to drop off kits and collect kits from people’s doorsteps just once a week. There would be no contact, families could then capture prints and paint pottery from the safety of their own home, and we would ensure kits were fully washed with anti-bacterial products between rentals.
“The takeaway kits proved to be a huge success, with orders flooding in. I have had requests for birthdays, anniversaries, key worker personalised gifts and lots more. People have been unleashing their creativity and designing some beautiful ceramics. A little ray of light in these uncertain times.”