Honoring the Past, As We Create for the Future. Video courtesy Heath Ceramics.
Words by Heath Ceramics. Published on June 22, 2022.
Founded in 1948 in California, Heath Ceramics is a design-led manufacturer of ceramic dinnerware and tile. Heath makes all of its products in two Bay Area factories—their original mid-century building in Sausalito and a LEED-certified industrial building in San Francisco, which is shared with other local, creative businesses. By conducting everything from design through production to sales in-house, the small company maintains its own accountability for every aspect of the product and business.
Heath was founded by Edith and Brian Heath, and is now owned and operated by wife-and-husband team Cathy Bailey and Robin Petravic. Together, they have stewarded Heath’s legacy and built upon its original foundation, leading a small local company with creative heart and genuine intention to make a positive impact on the community and a light footprint on the land.
Cathy and Robin have led Heath to become an employee-owned company with a strong commitment to social equity and equal opportunity. In 2020, Heath launched its Living Wage Initiative, raising its starting hourly wage and committing to annual living wage adjustments in accordance with the local cost of living. The 401(k) program was also restructured to offset the cost of the living wage initiative and redistribute the remainder on a more equitable basis. The effort resulted in pay increases for 70% of Heath's employees, 58% of which were Latino or Asian workers. The restructured 401(k) program has made it possible for all employees to save for retirement, regardless of their income.
Heath is currently in the process of achieving B-Corp Certification, which officially ensures long-term commitment to accountability, transparency, and environmental responsibility. Part of that goal includes becoming a Zero Waste facility by minimizing solid waste sent to landfills through reuse, recycling, and composting. As of 2022, Heath’s waste diversion rate is 82%, and the entire carbon impact of the company’s non-hazardous waste streams (reuse, recycling, composting, and trash) has been reduced to a negative footprint of -89 tons of carbon dioxide.
At its heart, Heath is a design company built on one of the oldest human craft traditions. Heath’s ceramic dinnerware and tile are made with materials sourced primarily within California, and designed with the same simple, durable, timeless forms initially created on Edith Heath’s potter’s wheel, and later on the simple machinery her husband, Brian, built to step up production. Heath is known and celebrated for its wiped rim and visible clay body; its classic glazes that transcend trends; and its deep ties to the modernist, environmentally-conscious ethos of mid-20th century California. But not all of the product remains the same from decade to decade. Heath’s founders also prized experimentation and creative discovery—a value that remains vital today in Heath’s studios, where glaze development and design research turn out new pieces for a community of long-time Heath fans and design enthusiasts just discovering this icon of American design.
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