We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Cheh and Francesca Basilico and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer & Francesca, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
About 5 years ago we took a pottery class at a local studio. We had always worked with our hands but pottery has its challenges. Eventually we found our way and each discovered what we were better suited for. We had always made pottery for ourselves and family, it was never our intention to sell our work because it meant being in a position of vulnerability. But after a few years it was clear that our passion for pottery was growing and so was our collection of plates and bowls, so we eventually decided to hold a Friends & Family Holiday Market. The reaction was better than we expected and with the support of our fellow makers we were invited to join in a variety of pop up shops throughout the city, including a month long temporary shop in Venice. The initial dialogue for web store occurred a few years back, but with the arrival of Covid 19, we quickly realized that it might be some time before we could get back to our beloved pop ups. So with encouragement from family and friends, we realized it was time to launch our web store. The name for our collaboration, the lazy potters, seemed fitting for two women who were reluctant entrepreneurs. Any potter will tell you, that you will never become rich making & selling pottery and that holds true for us. This is a labor of love, a meditation of sorts that allows us to express our creative side.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Sometimes when we sit at the wheel with a lump of clay, we know exactly what we are going to make, other times, we joke that we will let the clay decide. Either way, it is never a guarantee that things will come out as we imagine them. There are so many factors at play with pottery; the glaze might not be mixed properly, the kiln not hot enough, a crack that you didn’t see the first time shows up. You have to be able to let go of expectations and go with what the “kiln god” gives you. We started out with a hobby and then decided to turn it into a business so we really didn’t have any expectations of any sorts, because we were having fun. We have had many people ask us to make specific items for them , and if we like what they suggest we will accept the challenge and if it works out well we will incorporate into our collection. When you have a partner it is important to understand each others strengths and we are lucky enough to find that in one another! As long as we’re having fun we will continue to inspire each other and keep creating pots together!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We live in different parts of the city, but seem to gravitate to the east side for all things food related as well as outdoor activities. I guess we would have to start off the day with a morning hike in Griffith Park. We love the Riverside Trail because of the elevated vistas of Vermont Canyon. These days, due to Covid 19, we like to go towards the end of the day and finish off with a picnic in the park near the grassy knoll by the Greek Theater. We typically grab something from Kismet & a bottle of wine from Silver Lake Wine, and if we want to treat ourselves we will pick up canelés from Figaro Cafe on Vermont. Covell Bar is a great place to meet up with friends at the end of the day. They have a great wine list and are super helpful if you don’t know what you want. If we want a day at the beach, we head to Paradise Cove after stopping at Bay Cities for a godmother sandwich! Before heading back we will stop off at the Malibu Country Mart for a cold drink. We will finish off with dinner at Gjusta in Venice, which is casual enough to show up with sand in between your toes. Another go to place, especially when our children were little, was to spend the day at the La Brea Tarpits. Close by is one of our personal favorite museums, Craft Contemporary, which shows many ceramicists. The Original Farmer’s Market which dates back to 1934 is sure to please everyone in the group, with all the different food stalls to choose from. Whether you love the ocean or the desert, whether you are strolling through galleries or riding your bike by the beach, Los Angeles has a little bit of something for everyone.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We have both been lucky to have worked at jobs where we were surrounded by talented makers, people who use their hands to create. These skills have been passed down to them from their mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers. We have crossed paths with textile weavers and hand embroiderers from India, knitters from Bolivia, basket weavers and glass blowers from Oaxaca, potters from Japan and leather makers from Los Angeles and Marfa. Many of these people have become our friends through shared experiences. The artisans, makers and dreamers have supported us along the way with words of encouragement as well as constructive criticism. We have spent endless hours with our friends at various pop ups through the years buying each other’s works when no one else did. We have shared successes as well as failures and it is because of their perseverance and inspiration that we do what we do.