In Conversation with... The Glass Gardener

  • Sarah Ritson
  • 29th September 2016

 This week we hear from Sarah, from The Glass Gardener who answers our questions on her eco bags, running a small business and pizza.

1) How did you come up with the design for your tote bag?

The design for the tote bag is the logo for The Glass Gardener. The design lends itself perfectly to being stamped on a simple cotton bag. I find it looks particularly good when the ink pad is running low on ink and it looks naturally faded.

2) What part of the project did you enjoy the most and why?

The stamping itself is thoroughly pleasing. That and knowing that I’m not using time I don’t have to spare sewing the bags myself!

3) What did you use the bags for? E.g promotional, selling etc

The bags are part of the packaging either for the small terrariums or for the large planting kits accompanying the bigger terrariums.  They are free to customers as I love the idea of providing that sense of pleasure with the unpacking of the terrarium before they even get to the terrarium itself!

4) Do you think the introduction of the 5p tax is a good thing?


5) Have you used BIDBI before?

No. You were recommended to me by Helena Lee.

6) Is Fairtrade something that’s important to you?


7) What do you do? 

I make terrariums! I cut, wash, copper foil, solder, wash, then patina the glass, (a simplified version) to create the 3d structures of terrariums. I sell them with planting kits online and at local artisan markets in Manchester. I’ve been doing it for almost 1 whole year now and blummin' LOVE every aspect of it! The creation, the self-employment, the social side at the markets, the digital part (I did the website and do all the social media’ing), ALL of it. Long may it continue!

8) Did you start with a business plan?

Sort of. But not really. Took it one step at time with half an eye on the next possible 20 steps at all stages.

9) If a kid walked up to asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?

Try stuff out. If it turns out it’s not for you do something else. Keep tweaking until you find what works for you. Don’t follow the crowd and assume what they’re doing will equal contentedness.

10) Tell us a bit more about your products, how would you describe the style?

The terrariums are classic and novel shapes, hand made with a modern twist. I try to come up with new stuff as often as possible but at the moment this isn’t as often as I’d like. I have a battered old notepad full of rough sketches waiting to be brought to life.

11) What inspires you?

Independent people doing something different. I’m surrounded by them at the artisan markets. There are so many ways to not live a 9-5 office job lifestyle.

12) Where can people buy your products?

Online (, at the markets I go to (details on the website) and through stockists in Manchester/North West (again, details on the website)

13) What’s next for the business?

Hmmmm, there are so many options. But I think it’s going to be a bit of digital ooommph through a design studio I was next to and got chatting to at a recent event

14) What are your top tips for being environmentally friendly?

At the moment the emphasis for me is on the packaging. Using as much recyclable stuff as possible; biodegradable loose fill, cardboard boxes, as little bubble wrap as possible.

15) Where do you see yourself/the business in 10 years time?

To be honest I have no idea. To make a living out of terrariums for 10 years seems bonkers at the moment. I think the business will naturally change and develop as time goes by. The fact that I’m not sure in which direction that will be doesn’t scare me in the slightest, it’s exciting!

16) What is your favourite superhero and why?

Iron man for his sense of humour

17) If you had a superpower what would It be and why?

For the trail of mess and untidiness that seems to follow me round to magically sort itself out.

18) Favourite colour?

All of them! No, not true. Not a fan of beige, which I believe to be the absence of colour.

19) Favourite meal?

Pizza. Every time.

20) Favourite holiday destination?

Toss-up between New York and San Francisco

21) If you could be a bag what kind of bag would you be?

A 30 litre rucksack with lots of handy pockets. Probably orange and probably from Decathlon. Practical and good value.

22) Dogs or cats?

Both. Cat sat on the back of a dog. Or snuggled in front of a warm fire (the wine’s kicking in now).

23) Whats your favourite item of clothing?

Converse trainers

24) Who was the last person you text?

My lil sis Georgina

25) What was your favourite era and why? (80’s/90’s etc)

90’s. I was 16 when Britpop was at its peak. Oh Damon….

26) What was your favourite film?

Not sure. But the film I’ve watched the most (as a 13 year old I might add) is Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.

27) Whats your biggest achievement to date?

My little boy Pat, just about to turn 2. I’m quite a big fan. And having seen self-employment out for a whole year. Little known fact but I also have a PhD.

28) When was the last time you laughed uncontrollably?

At my mum for the mistaken use of the term “Brazilian wax”

29) Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Black.

30) Favourite alcoholic beverage?

Today: white wine

31) Apple or android?

Apple. I’m hooked.