Celebrating individuality and imperfections through her handcrafted homeware, Hannah Harriet is the urban concrete studio based within the pretty market town of Richmond. Nicole Wood sits down for a chat with the creative genius behind this flourishing business…
In today’s society, it’s hard not to simply follow a trend. Whether we like it or not, each and every one of us is influenced by the tech-savvy world we’re living in. With targeted ads, social media trends and influencers, we’re all so quick to jump on the latest fashion fads. Now don’t get me wrong, I love it. I love checking in with my favourite YouTuber to see which new beauty products they’re using or endlessly scrolling through home accounts on Instagram for decor inspiration.
But due to the super-fast pace of the digital world, trends change just as quickly as they come around and it’s hard to keep up. As I’m scrolling through my feed, I stumble upon a small local business, Hannah Harriet. This lovely little independent makes me realise that, actually, the world of social media is filled with so much more than meets the eye, and trends should just be there to inspire us. When I reach out to the lovely Hannah, it’s a joy to speak to her about her flourishing business and her wonderfully unique products.
“Homewares have always been a passion of mine, but I get bored seeing the same things in the big high street shops. Robots are smart, but everything looks the same. I love hand crafting concrete because each item has its own quirks and individuality.
“Each of my Hannah Harriet products have their own story to tell. No two pieces are alike. From the size of the pot and the way the marbling shapes, to the colour of each layer of pigment and the air bubbles that naturally occur in the making process – replication is impossible. Handcrafted concrete products are as unique as you and I,” explains Hannah.
The 31-year-old designer has always had a passion for homewares and interior design. Hannah tells me that ever since she was a child she always wanted to be an interior designer. Her favourite hobbies were different to other children her age.
Instead of playing with dolls or riding her bike, Hannah would choose to rearrange her bedroom furniture, create mood boards with cut-outs from magazines and watch Changing Rooms with her mum. She truly believed she was destined to work within the industry. However, like most of us, when we grow, our careers can head down a different path.
After a brief stint running an online clothing store, Hannah quickly realised her passion remained elsewhere and has since been making concrete products for hannahharriet.com full time for three years. If you aren’t familiar with Hannah’s gorgeous products and you haven’t stumbled upon her Instagram account filled with stunning shots of her items or adorable pooches, you can expect to find all things homeware including handcrafted concrete pots, coasters, bowls, trays and more.
“One of my favourite products in particular has to be my Thin Round Tray. I love making them because the marbling patterns show up so lovely on that large flat surface. They’re something everybody needs in their home because they make your clutter like keys, candles and tv remotes look organised. My customers must agree as the round trays are my best selling item,” says Hannah.
To handcraft bespoke products, each as beautiful as the next, is a time consuming process, one which is handled with care and precision. Passionate about her work, Hannah guides me through her process: “I’ll handmake a product out of clay. Once it’s solid, strong and dry I can make a silicone cast from that product. This allows me to pour concrete into a silicone cast which is flexible. The concrete takes around 40 hours to air dry. I’ll carefully peel it out (sometimes much easier than other times depending on size and shape) then I sand it down so it’s smooth. I wash the pots then when they’re dry, I’ll seal the concrete three times to stop it dusting. Everything I make is mixed, cast, sanded, washed and sealed by hand.”
As I sit back and think about the process Hannah goes through for each of her products, my thought trail takes me back to the trend-changing topic that led me to Hannah in the first place. It makes me wonder how the creatives behind the products we buy, keep up with trends and how they find inspiration for the work they create. “Inspiration can come from literally anywhere. I’m a huge animal lover so I often see cool markings on their fur which I can copy into my marbling patterns. I’m a keen cook too. Vegetables and food packaging often have quirky shapes and textures which can give me ideas for things I could make. Some of my moulds have actually been made with the actual plastic tub that most people would see as junk.
Sometimes I even buy food at the supermarket because I want the tub to recreate a shape in my pottery. Is that the first time someone told you Tesco was their inspo?,” she laughs. “It goes without saying, my dogs are a big help too. They inspire me every day, they’re my life. They spend all day following me around and sitting by my side. Brady the Dalmatian is actually resting his head on my knee while we’re talking now. We spend a lot of time together and are the inspiration behind my dog bowls,” she adds.
As we start to discuss what the future holds for Hannah Harriet in a post-covid world, Hannah tells me about her hopes of expanding her offering and potentially opening a store: “I’m always keen to strengthen my skills so this year I hope to do more pottery courses. You can never know too much. I’d like to do a floristry course too.
“I’ve been trying to get a brick store for a while now, but it’s so hard to find the right space with character and good natural light. One came up over Christmas that I liked, and I hoped it would be my project for the new year but unfortunately it didn’t work out. It’s difficult to get a place here in Richmond, but hopefully the perfect shop will come up this year as I’d love to see more of my customers face to face and I’d love to host workshops and events like ‘pots and prosecco’. Living in a rural area there tend to be a lot of clubs for older people or for young teens but very few for people around my age to make friends in the area.”
Three years into business and with an online store blooming day on day, we can’t wait to see how huge this brand is going to be as Hannah Harriet continues to flourish. Watch this space.