The Story of the Bathroom Studio | Sarah Hussaini | Episode 639


Sarah Hussaini | Episode 639

Not Work Related is the ceramics brand of Sarah Hussaini. Trained as an architect, Sarah wanted to create pieces that represented a departure from the stoic nature of the architecture office. She built NWR to be explorative, flexible and playful, with the idea that the objects in your life should incite happiness and maybe even a smile.


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When things are falling apart how important is it to double down on your health and making sure that you are thinking good thoughts and eating right foods and maybe even exercising when that is not as readily done?

Yeah, I think for me maintaining some sort of mental sanity was the first thing that came to mind. I am pretty good about staying active. I am pretty good about eating well. I have been a vegetarian for a long time. I was never a person that ate out a ton, so those were habits that I kind of already had. The biggest thing was the mental health aspect of things and being stuck in essentially a corridor because the bathroom is very long and linear. It felt very isolating. The things that kept me really sane were honestly connecting with people that were in a similar position, whether that was through Instagram or email. I have received so many nice messages and people’s positive words. I mean, they weren’t going through what I was going through, so they have a very sugary picture of what it was actually like to deal with the stuff in the bathroom and recycling was a nightmare. But everyone kept saying how inspired they were and how great it was and how wonderful it was, that I kept going and that is really what kept me going. Other people’s positivity really kept me going.

How important is keeping a good sense of humor during this time also?

I think it has been really critical. That’s part of what inspired the stamp on the bottom of all the pieces, having the toilet paper roll with the 2020 and bathroom edition, otherwise things can feel very dark. So, yeah, keeping a sense a humor about the whole thing has really helped me keep a positive outlook.

It seems like you were really committed to a goal through this time. Was it more that you were committed to a goal to finish the projects that you had or was it more, I gotta do something from keep from going crazy?

I think it was both. Part of the reason the projects were so important was because they were big ticket items. They were projects that were going to pay for a lot of my clay expenses. So that was very critical. Then the second thing is that over time my finances have shifted to being more and more dependent on ceramics so although I did keep a part-time job it was only two days a week. So everything else ran on ceramics and it was a business that needed an influx of money so to stop making work was to stop having income.

How important was Instagram for keeping the business alive and functioning?

It’s been critical. I think a lot of people have frustrations with Instagram and I do too, but about a year ago I decided to shift my business from being wholesale oriented to being direct to consumer. I realized that I was working so hard and only getting paid half and I wasn’t able to move forward because I was consistently getting paid half. So over the last year I have shifted a lot of my energy into Instagram and not just in terms of posting a lot but in connecting with people, building relationships, collaborating with people, and I have built an email list which has really helped me take the rewards of Instagram and put it into a platform that is more reliable.

Has it been critical for you also to stay connected with family?

Yes, we have been doing virtual game nights and Facetiming and keeping in touch. My family and my boyfriend’s family, they are both in the Chicago area so it has been really nice to be able to have time for once to call home and see how things are going and update them.

Because everything is so out of control does that mean that we basically just need to relax and do that Bob Marley thing-Don’t worry about a thing because every little thing will be alright? Is there a little bit of that where you just have to just abandon yourself to-Don’t worry?

A little bit. There has been a lot of things that have been out of my control like one of the examples is I always try to send work out within three days of an order and it’s not possible anymore. Not only with USPS but the supplier I use for shipping materials locally is only delivering once a week. So if I run out of something it might be a whole week before I can get it back. And before I would be super concerned that it was breaking my own policies but I think now people really understand and are a lot more grateful for anything they can get. They know that it is a lot harder to get things done quickly, fast, and efficiently than it used to be. So yeah, there is definitely an element of letting go.

Have you gotten to the point where you are kind of happy that you experienced the bathroom studio?

Yes, I am very grateful for this opportunity because I think there are a lot of people that didn’t have this as an option. Maybe they had roommates or maybe their apartment was really small or they didn’t have a friend that was going to let them use their wheel. It was an opportunity that I definitely took for granted at times when I got frustrated but in the end I look back on a full kiln of work and I would have missed out on all of that work if I didn’t have the tenacity to push through. Do I think it is a long-term solution? No. Ultimately I am going to have to find a space where I can work in a safe way , whether that is a space just for myself or whether I share it just for one other person. Yeah, I am very glad it happened. It has really changed my relationship with my work and I feel like I have a much stronger connection to ceramics as a whole




Instagram: @notworkrelated_

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