Meet the Locals: Westcoast Stoneware

We recently met with Beach from Westcoast Stoneware here in Raglan to chat about some of the new things they have been working on. Its awesome to see a new business start in Raglan and grow at such a rapid rate! They have an important ethos behind their business, not only making reusable coffee cups, but making good quality stoneware right here in Raglan.

With more and more people taking the time to get to know where products are made before they buy, the popularity of small run pottery has taken off in recent years. When building a home there are so many different elements that go into the interior design to make it successful. Westcoast Stoneware have recently released a new range of serve ware, offering custom colours for a full dinner set; plates, bowls and cups. They are also making a range of custom vanity basins. When it's something you use everyday, why not have beautiful ones that tie in with your overall design?

Here's a little insight to the people behind this local business and what inspires them to do what they do.

Who is involved?

Michael Nation - our head potter, the main craftsman
Beach Thurlow - our business, marketing, and glazer guy

What inspired you to start Westcoast Stoneware?

We saw a problem in society and a hole in the market. Too many single-use coffee cups were being tossed away every day. We wondered why consumers didn't have a re-useable option and why KeepCup was the only big company doing this at the time. Couldn't they look more beautiful in our hands every day?

We started just over 2 years ago through a good friendship and collaboration of skills. Mike is an amazing potter and has been since he was young, while Beach has been working in the design and marketing industry for the past 5 years. With creative hands and a business-savvy mind, Westcoast Stoneware and our Take-Away coffee cups were a no-brainer.

Where are you based?

We have recently moved to our new workshop on 20 Bow Street, Raglan, where we have constructed our production warehouse and opened our gallery shop to the public.

What is it that sets you apart from other pottery brands?

We know pottery is a craft/art form but we approach ours with a production mindset. Our production is streamlined and efficient, we have a sustainable approach to everything we do and this is how we produce as many Take-away cups as possible for an affordable price.

A lot of potters are hobbyists and produce a few pieces at a time when we can do a hundred in a day. The craft is no different from other potters but our business model is different.

When it comes to our homeware products we like to show our creativity and unique style through colourful glazing. Since we make everything from scratch we also offer the opportunity to get custom orders made, such as stamping brand names or custom tableware sets.

Quality is another huge part of our difference, everything we make is made to last. Yes, the nature of ceramics is fragile but we make ours thick and strong, they can even survive the dish pit of a commercial kitchen. I have even seen our cups bounce off concrete! We are sick of seeing extremely cheap pottery imports, stuff that chips or breaks when you crack an egg on it.

What is it about Raglan that inspires what you do and the style of what you make?

The lifestyle! There is no rush to work. We all have a love for the ocean and it dictates our daily schedule. If there are waves we might not be open. If it's onshore 2ft we are working. There are not many places where you get this freedom. When it comes to crunch time we will get it done but we like to live in the rhythm of the ocean.

The community of Whaingaroa is huge for us. We have had so much support and love from everyone that I don't think it could have been possible to be where we are without them.

How has it evolved, what different things have you been making?

I think we are on our 3rd generation of cup styles for our Take-away cups. We are always looking to improve our products which means listening to our customers, always thinking of better options for the user, and constantly making sure we have zero negative impact on the environment. We have recently branched out into homeware products now so we have bowls and plates of all sizes, planters, vases, teapots, jugs, and even sake sets!

What are the latest projects and what we can expect in the future?

We are currently working on full table sets and keeping our stocks up so when someone needs a custom request we can deliver within a week. We see the growth in Raglan and know how much love people put into their homes. We want to offer these people locally handmade products to enhance their kitchens, bathrooms, and living spaces. We want our products to be used for special dining experiences, where the gourmet food matches the tableware. We want to see a matching vanity bowl, toothbrush holder, and soap bar tray that matches the decor bathroom. No more Kmart factory popout! Our aim is to keep it affordable so this can be a reality.

What's the dream for the future of Westcoast Stoneware?

We have set some high goals/dreams. Bigger than WCSW, we would love to see this support of locally made products grow so much that importing slows down immensely. Just like in December 1940, the government banned the import of all crockery. We have goals of creating more affordable products that are still handmade with NZ sourced materials.

Where can people buy your products and follow along online?

Come see us in Raglan, 20 Bow street, down the driveway to the back of the building. Otherwise, we have many stockists around the country, there is a list over at our website as well as our online store where you can see almost all of our products or just keep up to date with what's happening over on Instagram and Facebook @westcoast_stoneware

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