San Francisco/ Sausalito
What began as a small-scale pottery in 1948, with Edith & Brian Heath, has evolved into a pure and simple way of life and business, that shares one creative heart, and many forms of expression. Heath is an American maker of goods for your home – led by husband and wife, Robin & Cathy – who are shaping the relationship we have to the things we own, and the way we come to own them.
Based in California, we have four showrooms, two factories, a robust registry, and online business. Ceramic dinnerware and tile are the anchors of the company, encapsulating our core dinnerware lines, biannual Seasonal Collections, and the Heath Clay Studio. In addition, we sell timeless, well-made goods from like-minded craftspeople to complement the way we eat, live, and connect.
Heath, first and foremost, is a manufacturer led by design. Meaning, what we make, we design, and sell. This has us responsible for every step in the process—from product to business. Additionally, we practice what we call Slow Business, meaning, we’re committed to the health of the company, community, and our souls, through good, fair, and sustainable business practices. This model feeds us daily, and has potential to be here 200 years from now.
The Makers and Their Production Spaces
We have two manufacturing facilities, Sausalito and San Francisco, and our SF location also houses our Clay Studio. The Clay Studio work ranges from one-of-a-kind, hand-thrown pieces to small collections of slip cast forms, it is a space to explore new ideas and take risks. Heath dinnerware and tile is made in house by our employees, and through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) are all partial owners of Heath Ceramics.
The Manufacturing Process
Heath’s manufacturing process is a hybrid of many techniques, which include semi-automatic forming, cast in mould, and hand-thrown on a pottery wheel. Once shaped, they are fired, glazed, then fired again. Each product is touched by many hands, it takes 15 people with a combined 157 years of experience to make a Large Mug. We’re on a Zero Waste journey, functioning on Lean manufacturing principles, minimizing what we send to landfill and increasing recycling, composting, and reuse.
Heath’s local factories and retail model means we have never required any packaging for our dinnerware product. Even when we do ship, we use recyclable paper-based packing material. We are one of only a few companies who proudly packs all of their products using ExpandOS, nifty 100% post-industrial waste packing material that’s 100% reusable and recyclable, in place of styrofoam peanuts or other petroleum-based packaging materials. Styrofoam packing peanuts entering the business are diverted from landfill and funneled into our out-of-house reuse program.
The Production Model
Heath employs varied production models for different aspects of our business, from small-batch production, made-to-order, to limited edition. The foundation of our production model is the spirit of Edith Heath in 1948, centered around sustainably designing high quality, locally hand-made products, that last for generations. We aim to be intentional with what we produce, and small batch production allows us to explore and continue developing new and improved glazes, production techniques, and processes in parallel.
The majority of our main clay body is locally sourced, and designed to conserve energy in it’s firing, this innovative material was designed in 1948. It required one firing as opposed to the more typical two firings, and are fired at a lower temperature than is customarily used to reach the same levels of durability. The clay is mixed and formed in-house. Sourcing locally sustains our connection to creative founder Edith Heath, who found satisfaction in the coarse and earthy clay specific to California clay. Our seconds and overstock tile and dinnerware are an excellent example of products being diverted from the waste stream. All are sold through our Sausalito showroom and make their way into happy homes, instead of being discarded into landfill.