Ceramic artist from Timberland awarded by mogul

Jo Slesser receives the Small Business Sunday award from Dragon's Den entrepreneur Theo Paphitis.
Jo Slesser receives the Small Business Sunday award from Dragon's Den entrepreneur Theo Paphitis.

A ceramic artist from Timberland has been chosen by former Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Theo Paphitis for a small business award.

Jo Slesser won the business tycoon’s popular Twitter competition ‘Small Business Sunday’ - and even got to meet the man himself.

An example of work created by Jo Slesser - including a hare and a bowl.

An example of work created by Jo Slesser - including a hare and a bowl.

She met Theo at an event in Birmingham to celebrate small businesses - where she was given her award.

Along with her husband Ian, Jo runs Ashes & Oak, producing unique creations inspired by ‘the magnificent landscape and nature that Lincolnshire offers’.

Jo said: “I was delighted that my little tweet was chosen from the thousands of applicants to win this accolade.

“We’ve been in business less than a year and we still work out of a small workshop at the bottom of our garden.

“It is great to have support from Theo because it’s been tough trying to raise our profile and Theo has recognised our hard work and helped spread the word about what we make and our ambitions for the future to his following.”

Jo says her passion is animal sculpture and she can often be found up to her elbows in clay giving life to new sculpture or sharing her skills with others. Ian specialises in wood turning and strives to use locally sourced, sustainable wood to make individual pieces enjoyed by many.

Small Business Sunday - which uses the hashtag #SBS - has brought Jo what she calls ‘unprecedented exposure nationwide’, and will help Ian and herself to ‘bring smiles to many more people’ with their pieces of art.

At the awards, Theo Paphitis said: “We are thrilled to welcome new #SBS members like Ashes & Oak every week and highlight just how important it is to support our small businesses here in the UK.

“My vision is that everyone who has ever won an #SBS re-tweet from me becomes part of a friendly club; like-minded individuals who can share successes and learnings.”

“I wish Jo Slesser and Ashes & Oak every success.”

Theo, a retail entrepreneur whose empire includes Rymans Stationers, Robert Dyas and Boux Avenue, runs the contest weekly.

Entrepreneurs from around the country tweet him with a brief description of their work.

Theo then picks his six favourites and retweets them to his almost 500,000 followers.

For more on Jo and Ian’s work, visit www.ashesandoak.co.uk or search for Ashes and Oak on Facebook, or ashes_ok on Twitter.