Happy Snow Day! Wow, it is coming down like big white bees today!
Today we are going to celebrate the beauty of turning something old into something new! As most of you know... I love this idea! Not only does this type of work help our earth stay strong... but it also helps our minds and hearts stay strong too! I have the perfect shop to share this art of thought and creativity with you!
Grab your coffee or tea... here we go!!!
Etsy Shop of the day:
The owners of Conversation Glass:
Matt Staudenmaier and Grace Foley
What do you sell?
We take bottles cast off and destined for our local landfills to create stunning, conversation-worthy glassware and home goods.
How did you get started with Etsy?
We found Etsy while shopping (one of Grace's favorite hobbies!) She was looking for a unique, handmade gift for our friends stumbled upon Etsy. We've been hooked since!
When did you get interested in making your Art/Craft?
A few years ago, we were drinking a bottle of red wine and realized the very bottle on our table would end up in a landfill sooner or later. That thought made us a bit sad, so we decided to make something cool from it...After about 100 bottles and broken glass, we learned how to get it right.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Our inspiration comes from wanting to combine form, function and purpose. Creating something useful from something discarded is fun and challenging, but the icing on the cake is making it impressive. We want people to get excited about re-purposing. I think we appeal to people who gravitate towards buying things that really mean something, who are looking for a bit more depth than the same old box store, mass-produced offerings. It feels good to know your purchase saved a bottle from a landfill where it would take thousands of years to break down.
Who taught you or how did you learn your art form?
We are actually self-taught! There's a ton of information on the Internet about cutting bottles but so much of it makes it sound easy. I can't tell you how many times we've been asked about tying strings set on fire around bottles! Not only are some of these "methods" dangerous, they aren't repeatable! I think people believe it looks easy, and that they can do it themselves. There's such a tremendous learning curve to cutting bottles, I'm shocked we didn't give up somewhere around bottle #98 of split and shattered glass. It takes a ton of patience and bottles to learn what works with each type and style of bottle. I won't divulge our secrets, like a restaurant doesn't hand out its recipes, but I can tell you it doesn't involve any flaming strings.
Where do you see your Shop in 5 years from now?
We are excited about the growth we've seen thus far. With any luck, we will have grown 5-fold in 5 years. We sell almost entirely on Etsy, so we'd like to expand a bit from the Etsy platform. Right now, Conversation Glass is my (Matt) full-time job. We'd like for Grace to be able to work from home / studio as well in the next few years. To be self-reliant and sustainable is the long-term goal, whether that be in 5 years or more.
How do you manage your time between Etsy and the rest of your life?
Etsy can be all consuming some days. Working from home has some huge, awesome advantages - setting my own hours, wearing my PJ's if I feel lazy, getting to hang out with our dogs all day, being there for our daughter after school. On the other hand, work is always THERE. There's really no getting away from it if you are busy trying to ship out those last couple of orders for the day. Our home is our work space, so juggling the two can be interesting. There's a great deal of discipline involved in staying on task and knowing when to stop for the night (or early morning!). Grace works a full time job, often overtime hours, then comes home to work on making or promoting Conversation Glass.
We really try to make family time even on the busiest days. There's nothing more important than being together, even if it does involve sanding glassware!
How did you come up with the name of your shop?
The name of our shop was easy - we were having a conversation over that bottle of red wine and came up with the idea of cutting bottles. It just seemed to fit. We hope people share the story of their glassware, or their tray, or their tea lights...We hope that everything we ship promotes conversations, connections. Connections to each other and connections to our planet - that's what it's all about!
Do you make or stock items you love, or what will sell?
We started making items from bottles we liked. There are so many available bottles to choose from out there, we had to narrow it down some. Over time, our store has been shaped by what our customers love. We have our favorite items aesthetically, and our preferences in making one style item over another. In the end, it's our customers who choose what they love and guide what we make. After all, ANY bottle cut and re-purposed is a bottle that doesn't make it to the landfill.
Where else can we find you online?
We have an Artfire site: www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/ConversationGlass
And we are here, too:
Did you always want to have your own business?
I never thought we'd end up with our own business. The concept always seemed too far out of reach. With online platforms like Etsy and Artfire, it became a real possibility. There came a day, not too long ago, where we looked at each other and said, "Well damn. We own our own business!" It snuck up on us, really. And then we had a few beers to toast ;)
Any other thoughts you want to share with us?
We're just so thankful for our awesome customers! Who would have thought that they would support our small family business and grow it like it has?! There's really nothing quite like becoming self-reliant and determining your own future. To anyone out there fearful of jumping into Etsy with their own creative outlets, we say - Go for it!. And I say to those out there amazed at how many bottles we have - We really don't drink them all - honest!
Were you over the age of 45 when you started your shop?
What month is this...Nope - still just under 40!
How do you think your age has helped you in your business?
We're young enough to be able to use the Internet well. That's really the key here. I sometimes wonder what we'd be doing if it weren't for the availability of online business. I don't think we'd have a brick and mortar store. Nobody wants to see me in my pajamas...except maybe Grace.
Thanks for reading all our many words! I hope your readers enjoy and please pass along a 20% off coupon to Conversation Glass with the coupon code: PIECESOFHOME
Thank you for sharing with us!!!
Thank you Readers!!!