Daniela Johnston

Bossing It: Daniela Johnston from Classic Crockery

I’m excited to introduce the brilliant Daniela, Founder of Classic Crockery for my latest Bossing It feature. Classic Crockery and Daniella have been a supplier to Social Pantry for years now. Daniela is the main creative and works with only the most beautiful table ware, our clients love their ranges and together we provide a great combination of table style and menu deliciousness. She was forward thinking all those years ago and brought cool, contemporary and stylish plate ware to the events industry, blowing the other ‘boring’ suppliers out of the market. Read on to find out more about what inspires Daniela, how Classic Crockery has grown and what’s to come!

Firstly, I love your style, it is iconic in the catering world! For those that do not know, in a couple of sentences tell me a bit about you. What do you do and WHY do you do it?
Thank you, Alex, I am so pleased and flattered you like our collections!! I am Daniela and I am the Founder of Classic Crockery Event Hire, which I started nearly ten years ago in my garage at home. Having spent all my working life in fashion, I was taking a break and decided to visit Portobello Market in North London. I was amazed by the stalls full of antique cups, tea pots and plates. I found all of the colours, designs and shapes so fascinating; I started buying them up, until my collection grew to such a size. My husband quite rightly asked, “what are you doing to do with them all?” It was at that point Classic Crockery was born!

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced since you started Classic Crockery? How did you overcome it? 
The biggest leap of faith was when we moved from home to our first serviced warehouse space on the 1st floor of a building. I bought a van, which I outgrew in a few months, so I had to get a bigger one. I had one then two, three and four spaces on different floors in the building; eventually Classic Crockery moved to a proper warehouse just down the road from where we are now. I stayed there for 3 years until I ran out of space again; then we moved to our current 10,000 sq ft warehouse with 5 vans. We overcome it by a great teamwork effort.

Classic Crockery

COVID-19 brought most businesses to a standstill this year, how have you adapted and pivoted to keep things going?
Like most people, I couldn’t have predicted that this would have had such a dramatic effect on our industry. We launched a new website TopTableware.co.uk where we sell crockery, glassware and tableware in an effort to diversify and adapt to the new situation. Now we are open again, things are improving. I am convinced that we are part of a very tenacious industry that will adapt to whatever is going to be thrown at us all in the coming months.

Now onto the food: name your 4 ultimate dinners party guests (dead or alive) and tell me why they deserve a seat at your table…
That will be the ultimate dinner party, but the food must be by Social Pantry! Definitely Coco Chanel, she was an innovator, pioneer in fashion and a great female entrepreneur! I’d have tons of questions to ask her between courses! Dante Alighieri (Italian poet who wrote the Divine Comedy in the Thirteen century) was a great visionary for his time, and it will be interesting to see his view of today’s world. Freddy Mercury, a legend and infinite talent, he had a crazy life; it would be so cool to hear his anecdotes. Steve Jobs, a business magnate, a designer and he had the vision, what a great combination. I think I will have a lot to learn from them.

If I came over for dinner, what sort of food would you serve?
I should not really say, but I am the worst cook in the planet!! Are you sure? I am in a phase of plant-based food and I believe that the right food combination can heal lots of diseases. I am a firm believer that we should only eat things that make us strong and healthy. When you come over for dinner it will be a vegetarian meal: vegan spiced lentil soup, stuffed sweet potatoes, kale and quinoa salad, vegan spaghetti and a lactose-free tiramisu.

Classic Crockery

I’m obsessed with your beautiful table-scapes and styling, where do you find creative inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from travelling, lots of research, visiting shows, shops, books and talking to people. I will see a colour, shape or method that talented people use to create something and think how these can be brought together. I then find an artisans to create the items for Classic Crockery events, though the quantities needed can be a little daunting for them.

What are your top tips for people at home to recreate a gorgeous table layout without having to spend too much?
Keep it simple and use key pieces to make your table look special. Table settings are built in layers by mixing textures, shapes and colours. Think about your own goals and the food you are going to serve. Always focus on good quality glassware, linen and cutlery first, then you can add the plates if you can afford it. The key is the food, as it will be the element people will remember; the tableware and table decoration will enhance the ambiance, but the food is the key.

What are you most looking forward to doing once lockdown is fully lifted?
Travelling! I miss our exotic trips to find new ideas and trade shows!! 

And where is the first place you’ll eat out?
At the Social Pantry Café in Battersea, we have always eaten their because we love your amazing food!

Classic Crockery

Bossing It is a fun series featuring inspiring individuals and entrepreneurs who are doing exciting things and leading their industry by example. First up was author, cook, podcast host & food writer Alissa Timoshkina which you can read here. In case you missed it, check out chef, host, mentor & food campaigner Danny McCubbin’s feature here and my forever foodie pin-up Joey O’Hare here.

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