[Translate to English:] Schmuckbild

Fil Ceramics: “We are proud to continue the legacy of Töpferei Seiler.”

Nilay and Hakan Serbest, both originally from Turkey, have settled in the small Franconian town Leutershausen to take over the local pottery. Prior to their arrival, the previous owners of the business had been looking for successors for over ten years. Today, Nilay and Hakan Serbest produce and sell handmade ceramic goods and manage their successful brand “Fil Ceramics”. We sat down with Hakan Serbest to talk about the start in Bavaria, the company succession and next steps.

Hakan, you have a background in photography and your wife Nilay studied Ceramic and glass design. What inspired you to start your Label “Fil Ceramics” (External link) in Turkey in 2015?

Nilay made some decorative vases for her graduation project in 2014 by casting clay into very heavy molds. I was introduced to clay when I helped Nilay with her work. Thanks to a work interlude that occured when I was doing advertising photography, I asked Nilay if she’d want to create a ceramic brand together. She really liked the idea, so we got started and also did some more design studies in line with this work. The name of our brand "Fil" (which means Elephant in Turkish) was inspired by the first vases we made.

You produce handmade ceramic goods. What do you find rewarding about this kind of labour and what makes your products special?

In our work, we try to match daily functional products with our own aesthetic ideas.

We want to create products that people will appreciate and use for many years.

The thought that our fingerprints will continue to exist in people's homes for years excites us.

Last year, you moved to the franconian Leutershausen and took over the Töpferei Seiler, a Bavarian family business of four generations. How did you find each other?

We feel very fortunate to have met the Moll family and former members of the Töpferei Seiler family. When we first started home-workshop production as “Fil Ceramics”, we were always in search of improving ourselves and really wanted to have this kind of master-apprentice relationship where we could learn from the experiences and knowledge of experienced ceramicists. Well, we feel like we have it now, even if it's a little late. 

We are proud to continue the legacy of Töpferei Seiler and are happy that they are sharing their four generations of knowledge and experience with us. Although it has only been one and a half years, we have already become a close family – we actually feel like we are the 5th members of this generation.

"Although it has only been one and a half years, we have already become a close family – we actually feel like we are the 5th members of this generation."

Your cousin first heard of the pottery through the local IHK (Chamber of Commerce) in Nuremberg. How did the IHK help you?

It’s always been our goal to move “Fil Ceramics” to Europe and reach more people, but it would have been nearly impossible for us to come here and build our business from scratch. When our cousin came across an article from the local IHK, we quickly contacted the Moll family and also visited them in Leutershausen in 2018 to see the pottery. Even the IHK's sharing of this article was enough to make all of this happen.

Mr and Mrs. Moll had been looking for successors for their business for quite some time. Is it hard to find people in this industry?

Overall, more and more young people are becoming interested in pottery - every day we come across the work of new ceramists from around the world on the Internet. In Germany, however, it is actually still difficult to find people who want to work in this industry. Here, interest in handmade ceramic production is still somewhat modest. Nevertheless, there are more and more people who want to take a ceramics course at our pottery - so at least here, the general interest in this handicraft is increasing.

"We would like to increase our business volume without losing our brand character."

What are your future plans for “Fil Ceramics”?

The interest in our products is growing day by day and we try to meet this demand by increasing our capacity. We would like to increase our business volume without losing our brand character. In addition to that, we would like to participate in various ceramic design events abroad and meet more ceramic lovers in the coming years.

What advice do you have for other international founders?

There are many workshop owners here, such as Töpferei Seiler, who do not want to close their businesses but cannot continue due to their age. We recommend that institutions such as IHK and Keramik Innung follow their postings closely and share their open positions. For those who do not have a German passport, we recommend that they contact their Ausländerbehörde directly and learn the details of the required procedure there, as these procedures vary from region to region. 

We advise the founders who want to choose such a path for themselves not to give up their goals at the first difficulty and to stick to their ideals, because in the end it is worth it.


These points of contact have been particularly helpful to the two founders of "Fil Ceramics":

Find more information about the brand and their products on the Website (External link) and on Instagram (External link) .

© Fil Ceramics
© Fil Ceramics
© Fil Ceramics
© Fil Ceramics
© Fil Ceramics
© Fil Ceramics
© Fil Ceramics
© Fil Ceramics
© Fil Ceramics
© Fil Ceramics