I have had a love for glass blowing ever since I was a little kid. I grew up in the Bay Area where glass blowing is a popular practice and cherished by many. I can remember the moment when my parents took me to the Chihuly exhibit in San Francisco and I was able to experience the greatest glass blower to ever live. The moment when I found out that one of my friends from high school had an aunt that started a glass blowing business, I was ecstatic. This was the moment when I learned about glassybaby, specifically their founder Lee Rhodes. She was diagnosed for the third time with cancer in 1995 while she had a husband and three children. She talks about how she can remember meeting with people like her who could barely afford the cost of treatment while trying to provide for their families. Her husband was a glassblower and created a small glass piece that were placed in the middle of her room. The light released from the candle brought warmth and comfort to her during her time of pain. This was the when the first glassybaby was created and began her journey towards being a leading entrepreneur in the Northwest.
After she survived cancer she decided to hire local artists to create these glass candle pieces to sell and then donate the profits to cancer patients. She automatically sold out of these pieces and decided to found glassybaby and find a location to sell them. This continued and led to her being named entrepreneur of the year in 2011 by Entrepreneur Magazine and donating millions of dollars to cancer patients. She realized, while going through the cancer treatment herself, how much the treatment affects you. She was fortunate enough to be economically sound, but other people she met didn’t have the same privilege. When going through so much mental and physical pain, economic stress creates more problems that aren’t needed. It is tough enough to try and survive cancer, but having to deal with the expense creates too much stress. This is why each color of glassybaby is donated to a different type of cancer patient. This allowed her to create a sustainable business while helping the people she cares about.
Another reason why I chose Lee Rhodes is that when I met her at her glass blowing facility in Seattle she left a lasting impression. You could tell that the slow creation and development of the company taught her a lot about building a business. Instead of having a goal to solely donate money, she realized that to achieve her goal she had to increase business. They recently expanded and opened locations in California and more in Washington. This has lead to greater profits while increasing the amount of money donated to people battling cancer. I hope glassybaby continues to grow and help people battling cancer.