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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sassy Glass Studio in the In Her Heels feature on She Takes On The World {one-of-a-kind fused glass art | Knoxville, TN}

Here is an interview about Sassy Glass Studio from the In Her Heels feature on Natalie MacNeil's She Takes On The World blog. This is an award-winning blog for entrepreneurial women. It's loaded with great information and resources.

I would like to introduce you to the talented Lisa Gifford Mueller. As an artist and entrepreneur, she creates one-of-a-kind fused glass pieces and runs a boutique store, Sassy Glass Studio.

Tell us more about Sassy Glass Studio.
The Sassy Glass Studio story is a rather interesting one. Sassy Glass Studio was actually started by my sister-in-law, Mary Jane Borden, as her creative outlet when she wasn’t being a lawyer. Well, it grew and grew until it was consuming her free time and she needed to get away from it. One day she sent the family an e-mail asking who wanted to take over Sassy Glass Studio- the kilns, the glass, the supplies, everything- and I literally jumped at the opportunity. I guess I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Or maybe I did.
I have always been a thinker and creative and sometimes that can be a volatile combination. I dreamed about designs for the fused glass pieces I would create if I were the glass artist rather than MJ. My dreams came true the day I took possession of Sassy Glass Studio. I started working toward creating those pieces. Granted, it took me a while to learn how to cut the glass and operate the kilns, but only a couple of months later I was at my first art show selling the pieces I had dreamed of. It was then that the Sassy Glass Studio of today was born, just over one year ago. Sassy Glass Studio has come a long way in a short time and I love working with fused glass and experimenting with new techniques. I have recently begun teaching fused glass classes and really enjoy sharing my passion with others. My goal is to Sassify the World!
Sassy Glass Studio is located in Knoxville, Tennessee and hand crafts one-of-a-kind fused glass art that is often functional, but always decorative. Our fused glass art can be found in our Etsy shop, at local and regional fine art shows and coming soon to local shops and galleries.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find my inspiration in other types of art, especially paintings and abstract works. Glass comes in many forms, from sheets to powders as fine as talc, and I love combining them into pieces that are like glass paintings. My photography is also an inspiration for my work. Capturing an image is much like creating a piece of fused glass because lighting, composition, color, perspective and depth of field are all elements I use in both mediums. Many of my pieces are inspired by the flowers in my garden and I have begun working on some dog and cat pieces because I love dogs and cats (two dogs, five cats and a parrot!). Fashion is also an inspiration and, though I am no fashionista, I love looking through magazines to see the color trends especially for the creation of pendants. Home d├ęcor magazines are great for finding unique applications for fused glass art such as for backsplashes, sinks and wall and window art. Seriously, inspiration is everywhere -from my water garden to the Great Smoky Mountains to the Caribbean.

You sell through Etsy right now. How do you find the Etsy platform and would you recommend it to other entrepreneurs?
I love Etsy. There are people who don’t like it or are frustrated because they haven’t sold many items, but it gives you what you put into it. I take a lot of time with my descriptions and, of course, the photographs so even though I haven’t sold a truck load of my work, I get noticed and gain admirers. Many of my fans and those they tell about Sassy Glass Studio eventually become buyers. You wouldn’t expect people to be knocking down your door the day you open a brick and mortar shop, would you? So why does almost everyone that opens an Etsy shop think buyers will just flock to them? It’s all about marketing, branding your business and your work, creating a niche and developing a following. I would definitely recommend Etsy to other artistic entrepreneurs because it gives you a shop and a website for virtually no investment and they give you all the tools to become successful. You just have to be willing to use the tools.
Another wonderful aspect of Etsy is the community it creates amongst sellers whether they sell the same types of items or are from the same geographic location. I have been instrumental in the creation of our local Etsy group, Knoxville Creative Hands Street Team, and we have already held one successful sales event featuring about 30 Etsy shops and are working on a second for holiday shopping. It was amazing how excited everyone was to be part of a group of artists and crafters brought together because we all reside in the Knoxville area and sell on Etsy. The networking, idea sharing and friendships that have come from it make all the time and effort put into it worthwhile.

It’s a great idea to have a local Etsy group! I love that. What did you do prior to starting Sassy Glass Studio?
Before I took a leap and quit my day job to focus on the photography business my husband, Allan, and I have built, I was a pre-sales consultant for a large telecommunications company. I was very unhappy because there was absolutely no creativity involved in my job. It was obvious that I needed an outlet for my creativity in that environment because nobody else decorated their cubicle with ‘70’s floral print and a Hello Kitty collection. I worked with Allan growing and developing our photography business for about six months before Sassy Glass Studio fell into my lap.

What’s your advice to other women entrepreneurs?
The advice I give is to be in business for your own self, first and foremost. Do it for you. Make your own decisions. Don’t let other people poop on your dreams. My other two bits of advice are, one, treat it like a business from the beginning and two, get help from local resources or get yourself a mentor. Somehow, by accident, I have become a mentor to several women who have decided to start their own creative businesses. It has helped me just as much as them to be involved with their development and it gives me an opportunity to share what I have learned so they don’t have to waste precious time and energy. Most of all, everyone needs a cheerleader! Find people to join your cheer squad.

I am a huge advocate of building a cheerleading squad for your business. What is a day like in your heels?
I ditched the heels a couple of years ago and depending on the season I can be found in cowboy boots or flip flops almost always paired with overalls or jeans and a black t-shirt. I get up relatively early each morning and head downstairs to my gym for morning cardio. I am a fitness nut. Nothing gets my days started better than 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by my boring, but healthy oatmeal breakfast and copious amounts of coffee. This is really the only part of the day I have any control over because after breakfast who knows what will happen. I handle most of the marketing for our photography business, ALM Photo, as well as all the marketing for Sassy Glass Studio so I usually try to get some blogging, Facebooking and Twittering done at various intervals throughout the day.
Some days I spend all day out in the glass studio creating fused glass pieces and other days I don’t go out there at all. I will admit that the glass studio is my private sanctuary. I love to go out there, crank up the rock and roll and really get the creativity flowing with a little AC/DC. Sometimes I spend the day on location shooting photographs with Allan. As my schedule permits, I head back downstairs for another cardio session and weight training in the afternoon. It’s such a great stress reliever! Then it’s time for dinner, perhaps a little more work on the laptop and finally its time for bed and some much needed rest. It’s a crazy kind of life, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. A couple of months ago I tried documenting a typical day in my life with photographs to put on my blog but gave up because it looked like it was staged. I mean, I was all over the place. Keep your eyes open because you may see me zipping past you on my blue and white hibiscus adorned scooter headed off on another Sassy adventure!
Thank you so much Lisa!

Please stop by Sassy Glass Studio to take a look at Lisa’s creations. You can find Lisa on Twitter @AllThingsSassy.

View the entire She Takes On The World blog post complete with photographs follow this link::

1 comment:

Natalie MacNeil said...

It was a pleasure to interview you and feature you on She Takes On The World :) I love seeing women turn their passion into a successful business and you have done just that! All the best as you continue to grow Sassy Glass Studio.