The Victorian artist and mother of three began selling her unique wares to family and friends and has since built the brand into a blooming business stocked in retailers such as Greenhouse Interiors.
Alice shares with us some of her favourite moments and lessons she's learnt over the last seven years.
Q: Hi Alice, welcome to the Woman Of Series! Can you tell us what it is you create?
Hello and thank you for inviting me onto on your inspirational platform! I create hand built ceramic vases and bowls from my home in Barwon Heads Victoria.
Q: Can you share with us a bit about your journey so far and where it all began?
Alice Bell Ceramics was born around 7 years ago when I undertook a six week course in Launceston Tasmania in order to learn the basic ceramic techniques of slab, coil and pinch pot. I also learnt some basic glazing techniques. I picked up the techniques fairly quickly, especially coiling which is what I use for all of my vases.
We renovated our home in Tasmania and incorporated a studio into the design so I guess I knew that it wasn’t just a phase I was going through, I was hooked.
I created lots of items and sold them amongst friends and family and eventually started up my instagram page which was the beginning of the upward climb of my business.
Julia Green of Greenhouse Interiors contacted me about becoming one of the artists on her platform, which even though I felt (and still do feel) like a small fish in a big pond, I had nothing to lose so I jumped aboard. I have now been with GI for almost 2 years and it has been the most amazing experience.
When I see one of my pieces in a magazine or sell a vase or a bowl to a customer I still have a pinch me moment every time.
Q: What do you think it is that makes your work unique?
I guess the shapes of my vases are quite unique, they are imperfect in shape and very textural, and no two are exactly the same.
Q: What has been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
Work hard and get your name out there.
Q: What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt so far in your career?
As a mother of three small children, managing my time has been the most difficult lesson I have learnt. At the beginning I found it very hard to say no to a commission or to a friend who wanted a particular piece, so on top of creating a regular stream of ceramics for GI, things got out of hand quite quickly and stress set in.
I was often working through the night and any chance I could get during the day which caused the enjoyment of creating to melt away. Now I know my limitations and am able to say ‘no’ with more confidence, things have become much more organised and the joy of creating has come back.
Q: What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?
Definitely being picked up by Greenhouse Interiors.
Q: Where do you go or what do you do to recharge your creativity?
My creativity seems to recharge in random ways, for instance last week I was visiting a beautiful old 1800s building in Queenscliff and inside was the most beautifully decorative curved architecture. I took pictures and incorporated these shapes into my vase. I also find having a break helps to get the spark back!
Q: How are you fulfilling your creative passions this year?
This year has been obviously a bit tricky, I have had less studio time than I would have hoped. If need be I take the kids into the studio with me and set them up at the bench so I can finish off a piece without them destroying the house! I did a half day oil painting course recently with some friends which was so wonderful, I hope to explore this further in the future.
Q: We’re all about women inspiring women. Who inspires you?
At the moment I have to say all the mums that I know around Barwon Heads and Melbourne, the positivity and resilience of these women has been incredible.
Q: What advice would you impart on the next generation of women, and women in business?
I would say if you have a creative passion, take the plunge and go for it! Don’t listen to self doubt and take every opportunity you can get no matter how small, these little steps combined will play a big part in your success. Oh and support your fellow women!
Visit Alice Bell Ceramics