Monday, 9 November 2009

Whatever Happened to the Teapots? or Turning a Bad Thing into a Good Thing

I was amazed at the collapse of Waterford Wedgewood in January of this year.  It was part of the wallpaper.  It went into receivership, and is now distinctly faded.  

A conglomerate company with some subsidiaries going back 250 years, Wedgewood Waterford included household names like Wedgewood pottery, Royal Doulton bone china, Rosenthal Porcelain, and, of course Waterford Crystal.  

Seasonal theme in the Waterford Factory.  Yvon from Ottawa

Stoke-on-Trent was pretty devastated.  Factories were demolished, workers sacked and secondary businesses closed. 

But the industry is dealing with some of the very things I'm mulling here, like how to turn that freefall feeling into a revenue stream. How to adjust and get through the difficult times with flair not fear. Using traditional skills and experience in new ways.

In its week-long radio show "Whatever Happened to the Teapots?" the Beeb (with the wonderful Roger Law) is getting the word out to the rest of us via its I-player, its totally amazing website and all the usual sharing widgets.  

Roger Law, of Spitting Image fame (together with Peter Fluck), now works entirely in drawing and especially ceramics, making really lovely porcelain. I mean seriously gorgeous.  Check it out.  Remember their Mrs Thatcher teapot (and dog chews)?  Roger's moved on from all that now. 

But to jog your memory here's a book cover from back then designed by Law and Fluck, using one of their kinder satirical puppets, on a topic close to my heart, as it happens

I don't want to presume, but Roger was probably cash poor once, but not any more, not for a long time actually.  He has done his own thing, reinvented himself several times and found, I imagine, financial cruise control.  Just the chap to talk to the good people of Stoke with understanding of the creativity, courage and risk-taking that will keep ceramics alive in the Six Towns.

Roger writes for the BBC that "despite the gloomy conditions for the big players, there are signs of hope to be found on the streets of Stoke. Look into the alleyways and lanes around the big factories and you'll come across small businesses finding a market for their specialised products, and it seems that some of them are doing very nicely."  

He is visiting Stoke to find out exactly what the industry is doing, and for 15 minutes each day this week the BBC is broadcasting his conversations with people at all branches and levels of the industry..  

I am listening at teatime (of course) every afternoon  (15.45 GMT) to see what I can learn about adjusting in really strategic ways to what life brings you, good and bad, to stay on the path to financial cruise control. I'll report back.

And anyone can listen to Whatever happened to the Teapots? on the fabulous but controversial BBC I-player whenever they want to over the next 10 days (until Saturday 21 October). Or read and share indefinitely in an article by Roger Law for the BBC here.   Enjoy.

The Largest Vase Ever Made by Wedgewood.  DodoPappa

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