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    Profile: Janet Webster

    October 15th, 2010

    Janet Webster

    Janet Webster is the Business Manager at Jean Elton and has become an invaluable partner in the company.  Her ideas and insight are important in all the business’s decision-making.

    Janet first became involved with Jean Elton after meeting Bill Barker (co-founder and owner) to discuss the purchase of another franchise.  Though she did not go ahead with that purchase, she did decide she’d like to work with Bill on another project.  ”I have worked in finance, product management, consulting, and sales, and as we spoke about the different things he was involved in, the Jean Elton business (accompanied by iPhone pictures) sounded and looked compelling,” says Janet.  After meeting Lois Barker and becoming more involved in the business, she began to research and evaluate the new target market of customized dinnerware for brides.  ”I looked at primary and secondary market research. Lois and Bill liked the work, and offered me a role as Lois’ Business Manager. After working with Jean Elton’s senior management team over a six month period, we completed a strategic and operational audit, and selected a couple of organizational and infrastructure challenges to work on which we felt would impact our ability to grow. Shortly thereafter, we organized the mission statement workshop. Now Lois and I are reworking the wholesale distribution strategy, and have begun to explore new strategic alliances in the southern Connecticut and New York Metropolitan area.”

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    Profile: Adriana Valenzuela

    March 25th, 2010

    Adriana ValenzuelaAdriana Valenzuela is a jack-of-all-trades in our pottery studio!  For the past four years, she has worked with Lois Barker on producing everything from mugs to large bowls.

    Adriana was born in Mexico City and moved to America 12 years ago with her husband and son.  Her mother, brother, and sister continue to live in Mexico and she visits them every chance she gets.

    Two years after moving to Connecticut, she met Lois at a nail salon.  Their friendship bloomed through the years.  Says Adriana, “She saw me when I was invisible… Now she’s my boss, my friend, my mentor, my teacher, and I’m so glad I met her, she’s like my angel.”

    When asked what is her favorite part of working in the pottery studio, she can’t decide!  She loves everything, she says, especially being able to work with a close friend.  And of course, she is a big fan of her Jean Elton dinnerware and uses them often, especially when she has company.

    Today, she is helping in the glazing process, helping to clean the glaze from the bottom of bowls, as you can see in the picture below.  It is an important job, because if the glaze is not removed from the base, it will melt in the firing and the bowl will stick to the shelf and will be unusable.

    Adriana in the studio

    You can see more of Adriana in this video, where she is expertly trimming and cleaning up plates before a firing. Look for more of her in videos to come!

    Profile: Lois Barker

    August 27th, 2009

    lbarker_aboutLois Barker is a founder and Managing Director of Jean Elton Studio & Gallery, LLC. A mostly self-taught artist that has been working with clay for the past 30 years. Ms. Barker studied ceramics briefly at the University of Hartford, CT.

    “I enjoy making new designs of tableware and decorating them by hand. I use the dishes in my own home for color, variety and the basis of table decorations that are just fun. I also like working in slabs so that I can press simple but tasteful designs into my work.

    “I make every single piece we sell in Fairfield County, Connecticut. We use time-honored forms and techniques to achieve our widely-admired beauty and functionality, using my own designs entirely–we do not have a factory in China! Our products are stoneware: this means they are more durable, safe and creative than what one sees in the “big box” stores. Although we’re proud of our products here and feel that they’re better quality than the imports, please don’t buy our products for these reasons alone! Buy our products because you love the way they look and feel. That’s why we love them!”