It’s been 8 months since we had to close for the CoronaVirus, yet in some ways, it only feels like yesterday. So much has happened in our world that I feel It’s important to grab those stories as they are fresh in our minds. So over the next 4 weeks, I’m committed to post a blog 3x a week to catch up our customers and fans to the back side, the inside, and the future of the Glass Academy.
And, knowing myself well, since I could easily edit this post and erase that commitment, I’ve enlisted a personal coach who’s going to keep an eye on me, my personal goals to writing and to see that this in fact happens!
Today’s feature: Finding Joy in change.
It’s the 3rd weekend in October, and today is Sunday. A beautiful fall day. I’m reflecting how back in January of this year, plans were put into motion for our outdoor mobile glass blowing unit to appear at the local Kerrytown Farmers Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan this exact weekend. Permits were pulled, dates reserved, and deposits made on the space and tents for the weekend.
Due to COVID, and the possibilities of large crowds gathering, the event was cancelled. Which brings me back to today, where I sit by a fire in our backyard, reflecting on the changes 2020 has brought our company. And well, it sort of feels like the sabbatical I was asking for, if I’m being honest. This year, 3 of our biggest offsite glassblowing venues were cancelled. For the first time in 18 years, we were able to have our weekends back during the months of September and October. Instead of sulking over lost income, we decided to travel and took a trip out west.
The summer in general was a bit calmer without all the extras we do. Managing Cedar Point in Ohio, from a distance, is always a challenge, and with that raging heat we had, it was probably better for everyone’s health not to be in front of the furnaces so much. Pumpkin Fest was calmer this year without demos happening in the studio, and without the opportunity for monthly sales, it gave us ample time to make customer requests and try some new styles. We were also able to spend more time with our customers, having great conversations and talking more about pumpkins styles and shapes then we’ve ever had time for when we’re busy doing demos.
As much as I’ve grown tired over the years of hauling glass and equipment to offsite venues, I’ve also had the pleasure of recognizing how those venues helped us grow as a company and as individuals. I have learned many of the backend things to make the flow successful and seamless. Enough variety in product, properly trained staff, computer equipment and IT support for sales, marketing materials, arranging pickups, contests and more. It has pushed me way beyond the boundaries of the title ‘glassblower’ and helped us grow as business people.
Knowing that these shows and events really engage us with the customer and teach us all kinds of things about the human race, we’re really hoping to get back to them soon. It’s really just an exchange of energy and a dance that we are all doing together. Some customers come every year to buy a piece and they want to keep those traditions alive, so they continue to come. Others have hidden talents they are too scared or fearful to act upon, so they come to cheer us on. Living thru our skills and talents, thinking that if we can make a living with art, perhaps they could one day too. And some, they just need an escape from daily life. Watching our shows and products being made, gives them some added relief to a crazy life. So we are very thrilled that we are able to continue our shows on Facebook, even if customers are not with us physically in the studio. The FB platform has allowed us to keep the dialog alive! It’s been very exciting!
It’s these special connections that drive us to go on. To continue what we do. I mean really, hand blown glass is a luxury item, not an essential one. When the pandemic hit, we were not sure what direction to go in. So, we let things flow naturally and jumped on FB live as an option. Although we couldn’t see the customers in front of us, we continued as if we could. Making jokes, working together and finding the right fit for moving forward. And people found value to these quirky shows, so we continue them to this day.
We’ve added contests to the live feeds so we can hear your stories from the comments and questions you write in. We have our regular fans reaching out and also a new group of fans who are bringing a fresh perspective to our operation from around the world.
Today, I am appreciative of this time, this particular day, and the last 8 months. What we have learned and how we have grown professionally and personally. Sitting outside by a fire in my backyard, dog at my side and infinite possibility in front of me. I am reflective of the work we have done in the past and all the people who come together to make it possible, but feel we are poised for a new direction and I’m excited to see how that plays out over the next few months!
Thank you everyone who has been along this journey with us. We appreciate each and every one of you!