One thing that doesn’t often get talked about, when it comes to running your own business, is how tricky it can be to maintain a healthy work-life balance—especially if the business also happens to center on your passion. Your dedication becomes the guiding compass upon which you operate and the lines between work and play are often blurred. The idea of how to better maintain a healthy work-life balance has always on our minds, but it has come into even sharper focus since we opened our store in Copenhagen.
In Copenhagen there is a deliberately slower pace. One of the things we love most about the city is how much it celebrates small family operations and independently owned businesses. From cafes and restaurants, to bookstores, and boutiques, we've met many wonderful local business owners who've inspired us with the way they maintained a healthy work-life balance. One such business owner is Tasja Pulawska, the artist behind Tasja P. Ceramics.
Tasja’s storefront, which also functions as her work studio where she hand throws her ceramics, is tucked away on an unassuming strip in the Nørrebro neighborhood of Copenhagen. Tasja’s delicate ceramics have gained her quite a cult following. She’s known for her simple and whimsical work which exhibits a unique quality of being both delicate and impactful, a balance of strength and lightness. Each piece feels undeniably handmade and intentional and in a sense is an acutely accurate reflection of the way she approaches her life as well.
How long have you been living in Copenhagen now. Can you tell us a little bit about what your journey to Copenhagen looked like?
It’s been 5 years. I just celebrated that. We lived in Oslo but wanted to move somewhere else. We went for a week holiday to Copenhagen and we liked it a lot. My boyfriend is a chef and I wanted to make ceramics as my main occupation. Copenhagen seemed to be a place with the best opportunities for both of us.Image courtesy of Tasja P. Ceramics
You weren’t always working in ceramics. What was the decisive moment for you that helped you realize you wanted to pursue ceramics as a career? And what steps did you take after that to make it happen?
I was doing ceramics as a hobby. It started pretty much at the same time when i got my first job as a graphic designer, I think around 12 years ago. I always liked working with my hands and create objects. When I met my boyfriend I moved to Oslo, that was 7 years ago. I had a hard time finding a job I really liked in my field and I already was contemplating the idea that it would be perfect to be able to live from pottery. I wasn’t technically very good so I was looking for an opportunity to be an apprentice for someone. Learning skills was very important to me and moving to Copenhagen made it more possible. I had to knock on many door to find someone willing to teach me. Eventually I found Eric from Tortus Studio and with a little luck and some persistence I became his apprentice. I worked for him for two and a half years before opening my own place.
Your store is also your workspace. There’s a real immediacy to the ceramics when you walk in because we’re able to see how the pieces come to life. What was the reason you decided to blend your workspaces?
Since I started thinking about my own place I wanted it to be a space where people could come in and see not only my products but also how they are made. I think today the transparency of a brand is very important, people want to know where and how their things are made, I know I want too. I also was alway fascinated by production processes and I thought if mine is so easy to show, why not do that. Of course there are also practical reasons, I have a shop that runs by itself, I sit and produce all day and when someone wants to buy something I just stop for a moment and take care of them. So the cost of running the shop is minimal.
You also live very close to work right? How do you maintain a separation between your work and home life with such a small distance between your living and working quarters?
I was lucky enough to find a space that has a shop front with my studio and in the back it’s a normal apartment. So I need to open the door from the kitchen to my studio to get to work. To be able to make pottery you have to really sit down and devote time to it so I rarely walk into my studio after my working hours. Sometimes I need to cover something or check on something and then it’s very practical. I don’t mind my work to be this close. I can have big dinner parties at my huge studio table.Image courtesy of Tasja P. Ceramics
What are some ways you unwind and switch off?
My work can be stressful but that just depends on the workload. It comes in waves. I had to learn not to get stressed every time it got slower and then again when it gets too busy. Denmark has a pretty good work-life balance and people don’t put any pressure on you. I like being outdoors, running, spending time with friends.
What do you take into consideration when designing your pieces?
I’m a very practical person. I like simple things but I also like when things are not taken too seriously. So they have to work nicely. I make them with a purpose and then when it comes to aesthetics I try to keep a balance between simplicity and a little bit of a twist.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I like working for myself, designing new things and throwing them on the wheel. Seeing something that, from start to finish, came from your own hands is probably the best part of my job. It can be very satisfying when everything goes as planned.
You can view more of Tasja's work on her website and follow along on her Instagram @tasjap_ceramics. Visit us in our Copenhagen store to view and purchase an exclusive collection of hand-made ceramics from Tasja.