How She Became a Master Potter And Got To This Position
Homa Vafaie Farley left her career as a martial arts trainer to pursue her passion for pottery. Her strong ambitions are noticeable through her progress in Abu Dhabi Pottery, which she started with her husband in 1994.
She has been doing pottery for about 30 years now and states that she’s still learning. She believes that pottery isn’t only about making cups and mugs. It’s more than that, and one should understand how precise and delicate art pottery is.
Her company is a UAE-based one focusing on providing different types of pottery and ceramics courses and workshops. It helps people, whether children or adults, to learn the art of pottery. Moreover, Homa Vafaie Farley also aims to share awareness about pottery and its importance among people. She wants to promote pottery as a part of history and wants to grow her business even more.
Let’s hear more of her thoughts in her words:
Homa Vafaie Farley, explain the background of you and the company in detail.
My husband Michael and I established our company Abu Dhabi Pottery in November 1994. I had the help and support of my daughter Neusha and the encouragement of my son Peter during this time. I wanted to continue creating pottery, and the only way to continue to do so was to rent a small shop. I had my family’s full support. I started teaching a few students with one wheel and a small kiln. As time went by, we were overwhelmed with many requests from potential students. We began to expand into three adjacent shops.
We focus on educating our clients on the true meaning of the art of pottery. This art is a challenging and time-consuming hobby to follow. You cannot become a potter overnight or after a few lessons. People watch a master potter who makes creating a pot look very easy, particularly on the wheel, and think they can also do it right away. As a potter, you need to learn several things. You must be familiar with the making processes of wheel and hand-building, and knowledge of raw materials and health and safety are essential. You must be self-sufficient in carpentry, chemistry, plumbing, mechanical engineering, and the basics of electrical work. Having said all of this, if you love to do and learn pottery, you will do so but with patience and hard work. You are not a potter just because you can make a cup or mug on the potter’s wheel. There is so much more to learning this art than that. In Japan, they say, “It takes two lifetimes to become a good potter.” I have been creating pottery for 30 years, and I am still learning.
We offer classes and workshops to people of all ages and backgrounds, from children, beginners to advanced. We also offer team-building workshops, birthday parties, school visits, and group workshops. We are suppliers of large agencies providing pottery and ceramics materials and equipment to the region and beyond. Another essential service we offer is teacher training for art teachers who need to improve their knowledge and ability to teach pottery and ceramics to their students. We also provide restoration services for new and ancient pottery and ceramics pieces of unique value to our customers.
Homa Vafaie Farley, What are your goals?
I want to promote the art of pottery and increase awareness of its importance in the region. This art is part of the history and culture of the civilizations in the Middle East. It must be promoted so that it doesn’t die nor disappear. Young and old must be encouraged to take up this art which is very satisfying also very therapeutic. When the world is going through the pandemic and all the other problems and when we are so fully engaged with computers and social media. It is like yoga or meditation, but even better as you can admire and enjoy your creation at the end of each class. When working with clay, one forgets everything, which is one of the best benefits of pottery.
What do you feel is the biggest strength of yourself/company right now?
We are the first modern pottery established in the UAE. I have traveled the world to learn various techniques and studied Ceramic Design at the Glasgow School of Arts. I bring all this experience and passion and pass my experience to my students, hoping it will enrich their lives in the future. Our company is very professional and has an excellent reputation. Our name is synonymous with clay and pottery. I am one of a few master potters passing on their knowledge to the students here in the UAE. Our knowledge and experience is our biggest strength.
What was the path you/your company took to get to where you are today?
We tried to work as hard as possible and continue learning new techniques. In business, it’s dangerous to stay at the same place and not go ahead with time. We have tried to do this by engaging in social media, improving our skills, and going ahead with time. We have students globally aiming to learn the art of pottery and ceramics. In the past, we taught students from the USA, California State University, students from France to complete their final professional training, students from Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, etc.
Why did you start (or want to be the head of) this company?
I started this company because of my passion for working with clay and nothing else. I also love teaching. Previously I was a Martial Arts teacher. I am a holder of the 4th dan black belt in the Korean art of Hapkido Hoi Jeon Moo Sool. I had to give up teaching Martial Arts to continue with my passion for pottery.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest challenges are the expenses of running an art-related company. The costs are often very high in comparison to the income. We try to keep the fees low to enable everyone the chance to learn the art of pottery. However, there should be a balance because, after all, we are a business and not a charitable organization
Give us one word that describes you the best.
What makes you excited about Mondays? (Saturdays in UAE)
Saturday is the start of the week here. I often work 7 days a week, so all the week is the same for me.
Homa Vafaie Farley, what do you value most about your culture and vision?
The long valuable history of art.
Tell us about a project that forced you to be innovative and creative.
The project that forced me to be more innovative was to recreate an ancient 4000-year-old pottery. “One of the highlights in Homa’s career came in 2012 when one of her pieces (right) was permanently displayed in the National Museum of Iran. The piece (top left) is a replica of a 4,000-year-old pot with a hidden chamber and intricate pouring mechanism. Having uncovered its workings, Homa was then commissioned to produce a replica showing the interior. Another proud moment was to have her work (far right) on permanent display at the Abgineh Museum of Tehran.’
What are the strategies of your company, and how do they stand unique from your competitors?
We are an exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable company in this field, in the region, not only in the UAE. We aim to provide the best of teaching and the best of all the services we offer professionally to our clients.
What are the key values which helped you to overcome the roadblocks/challenges in your career? Tell us something about your memorable incident in your leadership?
I follow never to give up when faced with obstacles, look all problems and challenges in the eye, and face them straight ahead until all is overcome.
How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Hopefully moving to new and larger premises and offering even better service to our clients.
Where is your leadership going? What benefits are your clients getting from your company in this competitive world?
Our company is growing and enhancing. In this competitive world, we are offering the best and most knowledgeable services in this particular field to our clients.
What are the services/solutions or products offered by your company as per the current industry standards? Tell us something about your upcoming products or services?
We provide the best and top-notch pottery and ceramics courses to our clients. We are a leading art industry company in UAE and beyond. We aim to move to new and larger premises for our courses and we always strife to offer the best of services to our clients.