The Brooklyn Teacup

Words by Caroline Spain

We have all been given the familiar line from our grandmothers at the Thanksgiving table, “One day this will be yours”. If this dialogue was shared over a stack of crisp one-hundred-dollar bills, it might’ve been easier to imagine a plan of action. However, this was never a conversation over crisp 100s or even your grandmother’s antique costume jewelry, but rather grandma’s fine china. It is safe to say that Millenials are not a generation of bunco parties and meatloaf. It can be difficult to find a valuable purpose for a stack of porcelain plates and delicate teacups.

We went with Ariel to a local antique shop to see her process.

The Brooklyn Teacup, a locally owned business by Ariel Davis, is refreshing and redefining the narrative of fine china. The current cultural zeitgeist of minimalist living, decluttering, and environmental sustainability is not one that has been kind to fine china. Ariel takes plates and teacups through their very own modern metamorphosis that she defines as “upcycling” – or the process of converting, transforming or reinventing an otherwise old or discarded item into something of higher quality or value. It’s kind of like recycling, but better! She prides herself on extrapolating the value of fine china which lies in its embodiment of family, togetherness, and nostalgia while creating a product that functions in a modern-day climate.

Younger generations are gravitating towards urban living spaces, making storage a difficult balancing act. Here is where The Brooklyn Teacup comes to the rescue. Ariel takes these once-prized china pieces and creates magnificent tiered stands that can be disassembled and stored accordingly, maximizing storage space. Ariel is a master at finding eclectic pieces all over the city. She buys from individual sellers, frequents the thrifting and vintage shopping scene, and even rescues china pieces from neighbor’s stoops.

Brooklyn Teacup’s narrative started on one of Ariel’s late-night runs when she literally stumbled upon the idea after practically tripping over a set of dishes along the sidewalk. Upon seeing the stack of plates peeking out of a trash bag, it was apparent that the inherent value of family china was being overlooked and deserved better than a fate in the hands of the New York City Department of Sanitation. Ariel found a solution that modernizes an outdated tradition and breathes new life into home décor while satisfying the push for more sustainable products in modern culture.

When asked if providing an ultimately environmentally friendly product was important to her business, Ariel candidly replied, “Incredibly important! I’ve always been eco-conscious as an individual, but as a business owner, I am even more aware of the impact that my choices have on the environment. I always consider my footprint in purchasing and sourcing decisions for The Brooklyn Teacup. I’m far from perfect in this regard, but I’m always looking for ways to improve.” Ariel integrates green thinking in more ways than one. She utilizes recyclable materials for her packaging and intends to release a tutorial to provide her customer base with tips to keep their packaging environmentally conscious. Lastly, any china acquired but not used is donated to Big Reuse (link) in Gowanus, Brooklyn, a non-profit that prioritizes the fight against climate change. Big Reuse encourages limiting waste by running educational and composting programs around the city and operating a “reuse” center where they sell secondhand goods ranging from appliances to fine china. With this initiative, customers can feel good about the ethics behind their purchase at The Brooklyn Teacup. 

So, what does the process look like? The Brooklyn Teacup provides its customers with seven different choices in design that range in size, purpose, and price. Customers either provide Ariel with their own personal china or work with Ariel to achieve their desired aesthetic. Each piece is unique to the individual creating an incredibly personal gift opportunity or a newfound family heirloom. The Brooklyn Teacup is the perfect way to encapsulate the heart and tradition behind fine china while revamping it to better fit into today’s culture.

Check out The Brooklyn Teacup’s website (link) to grab your own personalized piece!