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Meet Janaki Larsen, the Skilled Creator Behind BC’s Stunning Ceramics

The family of Janaki Larsen Studios
Heather Saitz

Creation is an intimate process no matter what it is being made. Whether it’s a business, art or the next generation, having a hand in the birth of something new forms a bond. Creation, and the significance it holds, is something Janaki Larsen knows all too well. As a business owner, artisan potter and mother, the act of shaping something new has been a crucial element of her life. With Mother’s Day just behind us, we sat down with Janaki Larsen to hear all about how it feels to shape the things you love.

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@hgtvcanada

A mom and business owner?! On this episode of #MadeInVancouver we chat with Janaki and Klee Larsen in their pottery studio ✨ ( 🎥: @Heather Saitz) #vancouverbusiness #canadianmade #smallbusiness

♬ original sound – HGTV Canada

Janaki Larsen working at her studio
Heather Saitz

Overlapping Worlds

Upon reading up on Janaki, it was difficult to know where to start — so many overlapping skills and experiences make her CV an impressive one. With such a long list of accolades, we asked her if these skills have taught her anything that she’s brought into motherhood. “I want to say it’s more the reverse. There are things in motherhood that I bring to work — patience would be one.”

Janaki Larsen's work on display
Heather Saitz

First Steps

“Pottery was always a side thing. I worked in cafes and film commercials, and after putting so much time and energy into other people’s projects, I was curious to see what would happen if I put the same amount of energy into my own projects.” It was that leap of faith that pushed her to start Janaki Larsen Studios. “It’s just been a full-time thing since then.”

Related: Periwinkle Designs: The Story Behind a Mother-Daughter Duo’s Beeswax Business

Janaki Larsen working at her studio in BC
Heather Saitz

Lessons and Gifts

As much as being a mother is about teaching, it’s also about learning. Part of being a mother is also being a daughter and learning from the maternal influences in one’s life. Sometimes we don’t even realize those lessons and gifts until later in life. “My mom always had her studio and a throwing wheel, but I never caught on to it, not until my third year of art school.”

Janaki Larsen's work on display
Heather Saitz

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Inspirations

“My relationship to other people, my relationship to myself, my relationship to the way I think about things.” Pottery isn’t usually considered the most expressive medium, but by talking to Janaki, and seeing her pieces, it’s clear that that’s a misconception. “Imperfection, communities, belonging. As much as I usually makes plates and stuff, I still feel like I sort of involve all of that.”

Janaki Larsen's work on display
Heather Saitz

Subtle Touches

Many of her pieces utilize a more subdued palette. This is by design, as it requires us to focus on her pieces, to really see them. “I feel like a lot of people are compelled to be seen or be heard, but I’m always interested in the quietest person in the room. There’s a lot of colours, but I like shadow.”

Read more: The Best Gifts From Canadian Small Businesses Under $100

Janaki Larsen's studio
Heather Saitz

Scale and Impact

Pottery is an artform tied to function. Like her, and many of us, her pieces are required to do multiple jobs, and be multiple things. “I have kiln restraints, but I like to play with scale a lot. I like a really tiny thing that you can hold in your hand.” Using these small details she builds curiosity, drawing you in to the unique textures and gentle imperfections.

Janaki Larsen talking to her child
Heather Saitz

Balancing Act

These accolades sound lovely, but life is never that simple. We asked Janaki how she balances running a business, creating her art and motherhood. “I think you’d have to ask my daughter, but it works well for me to be compartmentalized. Ceramics is a really time-specific craft — there’s certain steps and drying times and I’ve gotten good at managing that.”

Janaki Larsen's green pottery work on display
Heather Saitz

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Of Two Styles

“I sort of work from two different brains. I work for restaurants, making 80 or 100 per cent of a bowl, they have to be relatively similar, but then I’ll do free throwing.” When you spend so much time on your craft making for others it’s easy to forget to use your skills for your own enjoyment. Experimenting within those talents is crucial to growth, even if it’s just for fun. “I’ll make some sculptural stuff and usually that is just components that get either smashed together or taken apart.” Even when you enjoy your work, it’s still work. Finding and reminding yourself of the joy in it is crucial, even if nothing permanent comes from it.

See also: 10 BIPOC-Owned Flower and Plant Businesses Across Canada to Shop Now

Janaki Larsen with her family in the studio
Heather Saitz

A Family Affair

“Mondays in the studio, that’s the day my sister comes. My daughter grew up in the café and I grew up in my mom’s studio. It’s this big, blended environment, which I think is amazing.” Janaki’s studio is a true family business, brimming with life from multiple generations. It’s easy to make the connection of the warmth in the studio and that that is embedded in her art.

Janaki Larsen throwing
Heather Saitz

The Big Picture

What seems to be most impressive about Janaki Larsen Studios doesn’t seem to be the beautiful pottery it produces or even the beautiful warmth from the family that operates it. What’s most impressive about this business is its purpose and priorities. “I’ve built a business I can expand and contract as I need. I’m a process-driven person so it’s important to me to understand all the steps.” And that’s what makes this pottery studio in Vancouver so special — it’s there to enrich lives, not the other way around, as all businesses should be.

Keep up with Janaki and her studio on Instagram and find out more about her beautiful products and business here.

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