Every week, we shine a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homeware and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.
From fashion and beauty to homeware, accessories and food, we bring you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week, we chat with Sasha Compton, artist and designer who specialises in ceramics and prints.
How did your brand come to life?
I’ve always wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. I went to Central St. Martins (where I specialised in Illustration) and then Chelsea College of Art (where I studied Graphics). After seven years focussing on graphics, I realised I really missed the physicality of creating with my hands. I finally built up the courage to make my passion my career – I saved up and made a business plan to ease in focussing on my art full-time.
I was in a bit of a bubble of my own in 2021. Although there were challenges (Covid related), I had the best time creating. I think Covid helped in some ways too; more time to create, more focus online and an amazing network of people and small businesses supporting one another.
I recently moved from Amsterdam, where I lived for 4 years, back to London to start a new chapter. I love creating in my colourful little London studio, it’s a dream come true.
What three words describe your brand?
Joyful, expressive and experimental (wobbly would be my fourth…).
Who is your work for?
In today’s world, there is so much pressure to be perfect. My work is all about embracing the differences. My art is for anyone who appreciates imperfections and colour. I hope to add a splash of colour and bring joy into people’s homes.
Tell me about your design and making process.
I write things down, take lots of photos the whole time and note down any ideas in my sketchbook. It means that I can track my inspiration and I can sleep on ideas, looking at them with fresh eyes. I’ll then try out different mediums to express the message and create lots of versions until it feels right. Some of my art works on the first attempt and sometimes it takes a fair few to get it right.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I tend to go on a run first thing in the morning, if I’m lucky I’ll catch the sunrise in the reflection of the Thames (I live in East London so love running near the Docklands). This time at the beginning of the day is so important to me, to get my creative thoughts flowing. Afterwards, I’ll tend to do some admin and emails with a good coffee (and my cute cat, Mochi).
Once admin is out the way, I’ll cycle to my studio in Lambeth. As a mixed-media artist I always have a few projects on the go. I’ll continue with whatever I’m currently working on – painting, glazing pots or printing on my press. I pack and post orders and collect art from the printers and framers at the end of the week.
It helps me to put my ‘business cap’ on and do admin at home or in a cafe, then I keep my studio as my creative nest for exploring avenues and expressing what I have bottled up in my head. Most of my ideas come to me when I’m outside amongst nature so if I ever have a creative block I step outside.
What’s the best thing about running your own business? And the most challenging?
The best thing is the freedom of time and the feeling of pride when hard work pays off. The most challenging thing for me is finding enough time to actually create amidst the general admin. The lack of financial security is also a challenge sometimes and being alone for a lot of the day.
The best moment so far?
For International Women’s Day last year, I collaborated with Noble Macmillan to create two beautiful leather notebooks. It was a really proud moment for me as 15 per cent of the profits went to Smart Works charity. It was so special to know that my art was helping to improve people’s lives. A few other amazing moments have been taking part in The Auction Collective, getting the keys to my London studio and having a sell-out ceramics collection.
Which of your pieces is your favourite?
I will always have a soft spot for my ‘Astronomical Love’ bowl. I remember looking at the sky and feeling so in love one summer’s evening after my fiancé proposed. It still makes me smile a lot just thinking about this piece. It was my largest and most challenging ceramic piece to date, I have one more bowl of the same size in a different design which is still available (the ‘Beauty Blooms from Within’ bowl).
Anything exciting in the pipeline?
I’ve just designed some plates exclusively for Edmiston Yachts and hand-painted lots of lampshades which have been shipped off to a design hotel in Copenhagen (launching this spring). I’m also in the process of designing a swimming costume and of course creating more colourful, expressive art. I’d love to experiment more with monoprinting and the sgraffito technique in ceramics. It’s still a dream of mine to have a pop-up show too, maybe this year will be the year!