Kate Sellers, Potter | International Women's Day
Whilst Sahara operates as a strong, female-founded business, we know too well that our structure isn’t as common as it needs to be in the modern world. Progressing the narrative around equality will inevitably lead to change, and we take the opportunity every International Women’s Day to show solidarity.
This year’s theme, Break the Bias, aims to educate on and encourage actively calling out gender bias, discrimination, and stereotyping. Bias, whether intentional or unconscious, makes it difficult for women to move ahead. It is not enough to recognise bias; action is required to level the playing field.
Our contribution to the conversation involves highlighting the thoughts and incredible work of women in creative fields. Hear from a painter, woodworker, potter, photographer and storyteller about how they manage, orchestrate, lead, and make vital decisions regarding their businesses. Learn about their unique journeys, insights around unconscious biases, and visions for an equal future.
It takes conviction and a sense of discovery to embark on a new career path. Kate Sellers, potter and maker, had an established career in the fashion industry before transitioning to creating. Her small-batch ceramics are thrown and painted in the Kent countryside but have gone on to grace the shelves at Liberty and Charleston House.
Working in creative fields can often mean a non-linear career path – how did you come to work as a potter and what sparked your love of ceramics?
It was a very non-linear path for me. I was working as a Visual Merchandising Manager. I decided that I needed to do something to fulfil my creative desire and take some time out. So I enrolled on a course at The Kiln Rooms in Peckham, South London. I had done some ceramics as part of my degree in Decorative Arts and always found it therapeutic. Once I learned to throw on the wheel I was hooked. During lockdown, I moved a wheel into my mum’s tiny shed in the garden, and the weather was so lovely that I spent most of the day making. Out of that, my ‘isolation face’ plates were born. Since then I have stocked them in Liberty and Charleston House.
As a woman in the creative industry, can you speak to a time you have been on receiving end of other people’s unconscious biases? Perhaps you have had a positive experience you’d like to share instead?
Compared to the fashion industry which is pretty tough and biased at times, I have found that the creative/craft field is more welcoming and inclusive. I enjoy the fact that I am creating pieces to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.
Too often unconscious biases affect how we view ourselves, have you had to overcome biases of your own in order to achieve what you have, either personally or professionally?
I think unconscious bias is a part of life, that can only be navigated by being kind to yourself and others. Treating others the way you wish to be treated. I try not to linger on what others think of me... I am old enough now to be comfortable with who I am.
“surround yourself with people that will mention your name in a room full of opportunity.”
What prevailing stereotypes would you like to see broken?
That is a big question. I think all stereotypes should be lost. We are all individuals and we are all equal in my opinion. Happiness and kindness are all we should focus on.
What action do you think women can take to support and empower each other, and what role do you think men have to play in achieving equality?
I think the key to equality is probably women empowering each other. I read a great quote that said ‘surround yourself with people that will mention your name in a room full of opportunity’. I have been really lucky to work with some fantastic women in business. I have struggled with the fact that women are still put down by men in business and this was a part of the reason I left a role in fashion retail.
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring younger women in the creative industry?
Make your voice heard and bring yourself forward. Work hard and be kind and generous.
Why do you think reflecting on and sharing our experiences as women is so powerful?
Because women are great! Let’s face it we run the world... Women sharing and supporting always makes things better.
Lastly, have you been inspired by another woman working in the creative industry that you’d like to spotlight? If so, what qualities led you to choose them?
I have been inspired by so many women. The female CEO I worked for in my fashion role was a strong role model. Pip Hartle is a fantastic potter and all-around good sort from what I can tell. Ellie Hay, the founder of Patter, has impeccable taste and inspires me creatively. The Women of the Bloomsbury Group and Charleston House. Barbara Hepworth. The list is endless!
International Women's Day, Break The Bias.
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