For her Manchester-based business Pow Pots Nathalie Gibbins turns grey fiber clay into happy-coloured planters. Inspired by classic geometric design elements the 42-year-old paints each pot individually. By hand. The results look immaculate and sell to customers all over the world. With Neighbouring the founder talks about her career, sustainability, and everyday inspiration.
Everything Nathalie sees her brain deconstructs into shapes and colours. A Gin & Tonic disintegrates into a grey block and yellow half moons. A Piña Colada is abstracted to a white and yellow stripe topped with green triangles. Nathalie discovers design in the most trivial objects – anything can be an inspiration for her. „I sometimes look at a street sign and think: ‚That’s a cool idea‘“, she explains.
However, Nathalie’s does not showcase her talent on canvas or behind a frame. She paints these abstracted patterns on plant pots, which then serve as colourful additions to homes and gardens.
Nathalie opens the door in a frog green dress and a big smile. Her apartment in a renovated mill is bright and – of course – full of greenery. Her favourite plant, she says, is the giant Monstera sitting in a pot with retro-red half circles along the brim. On the floor next to it half a dozen pots are waiting to be finalised and shipped to their new owners.
It was only in October 2018 when the 42-year-old decided to open up Pow Pots. It is her very first business and the idea came to her while spending some months of her maternity leave in Spain. „Flowers became really big over the last years – but pots didn’t. Often you’d only get terracotta ones. I saw a market there“, Nathalie recalls. From the beginning, she designed the pots with bold shapes and bright colours. „I want them to make people happy“, she states.
The first phase of setting up Pow Pots was all about finding the right materials. „I started with acrylic colours on terracotta pots – that didn’t work.“ After some research, Nathalie came across fibreclay – a lighter, more durable alternative to ceramic. „They are lightweight and frost resistant – and very nice to paint on.“ Trying to make her business as sustainable as possible, Nathalie uses eco-friendly, breathable paint as well as biodegradable packaging.
On Pow Pot‘s website customers have a wide choice of planters: the boldly patterned pots of her core range come in three different sizes that cost between 25 and 95 pounds. Alongside the fibreclay versions Nathalie also sells stylish concrete pots. Every product can be shipped worldwide. „Lately I’ve sent three orders to America.“ Nathalie’s pots are also stocked in local independent shops like the Plantshop in Stockport, Nonsense in Prestwich or Rose & Grey in Altrincham. For the latter she designed an exclusive collection in more muted colours. At the moment she is working on extending her range with some new seaside or city-inspired patterns.
It seems like Nathalie has always worked as an entrepreneur. However, her career started off differently. After studying Journalism in Southhampton the half swiss became a freelance writer for Magazines like Grazia or Zest. She stayed in the media industry and worked as a fashion editor in Manchester up until she had her daughter Beatrix two years ago. „Having a baby was an opportunity to rethink what I wanted to do for a living“, Nathalie explains her decision.
The founder says, that she enjoys the hands-on creativity that comes with her new job, but what gets her really excited is customer feedback. She says: „I just love it when people send me photos of their pots in their homes.“ Because in the end, that’s what her products are for: To make people happy.