glassybaby is a private company based in Seattle, Washington founded by award winning entrepreneur Lee Rhodes. Its primary product is a handmade glass votive, also known as a ‘’glassybaby’’, produced in more than four hundred colors and sold over the internet and through a few retail stores in the Seattle area and San Francisco. Their tagline is "one of a kindness." The company donates money from sales to charities helping cancer patients with costs during chemotherapy, and other charities "dedicated to healing".
In 1995, at the age of 32, Lee Rhodes was stricken with a third round of a rare form of lung cancer. The mother of three had previously given her then husband, Emery Rhodes, glass blowing lessons, and he created small glass cups, or “baby glasses”, which she would light with tea light candles to find solace during the difficult cancer treatments. Encouraged by the demand from her friends, Rhodes hired local glassblowers in 1998 to produce more glassybaby, and began selling them out of her garage. From the beginning, Rhodes wanted to spread hope and give back money from sales to help cancer patients.
"glassybaby allow people to take that 30 seconds of peace and calm to find healing," says Rhodes, "I see people who come into glassybaby hurting. They still mean to other people what they meant to me. I feel joy that we created something that touches so many people."
The company was officially founded in 2001. In 2003, Rhodes set up a glassblowing studio in Seattle’s old Vitamilk Dairy building, since demolished.
In September 2005, Rhodes appeared with Martha Stewart on her television show. Sales, which had reportedly been averaging about 4 a day, leaped to 400, and although the surge slowed somewhat, the impact on the glassybaby business was tremendous.
In 2007, glassybaby moved to a studio and retail shop in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood.
In 2008, Lee Rhodes was the Nellie Cashman Woman Business Owner of the Year. This award is given by Woman Business Owners, a Puget Sound organization for women entrepreneurs, in the name of Irish nurse and gold prospector Nellie Cashman. In 2011, Rhodes was honored with the "It's Always Something Award" by Gilda's Club New York City for all of her work to help cancer patients. She was given the award at a ceremony at The Plaza Hotel in New York City.
Also in 2009, Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos purchased a 22 percent stake in glassybaby. A spokeswoman for Bezos suggested that he was passionate about the product, and thought the company, which grossed over $2 million in 2008, could eventually reach the $100 million mark in sales.
In 2013, glassybaby opened a retail outlet in San Francisco's Presidio Heights neighborhood. The company was also reportedly in negotiations to lease space for a glassblowing studio in the Presidio.
Owner Lee Rhodes remembers meeting patients in chemo waiting rooms who could not afford day to day basic needs during treatment. She wanted to help. From the beginning, glassybaby has donated money from sales, not profits, to charities dedicated to meeting those needs for patients. By April, 2014, glassybaby had donated more than $2,000,000 to various charities.
Some of the charities where glassybaby donates money are the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, University of Washington Medical Center, Gilda's Club New York City, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, The Humane Society of the United States, and Conservation International.
The original glassybaby is a glass votive, roughly 2.5" in diameter and 3.75" tall, although significant variation occurs due to the fact that each is handmade. It takes 12-14 minutes for each glassybaby to be made by a team of glass artists. glassybaby are created by a team of 70 plus artists seven days a week at the company's Madrona studio in more than 400 colors. Each glassybaby has a unique name like frog hunting, hope, joy, wet dog, wings and sorry.
glassybaby also manufactures a slightly larger and thinner glass vessel, known as a "drinker", sold in the "accessories" section of their website. Ten percent of each drinker sale is donated to the Seattle Division of V.A. Puget Sound to support veterans battling cancer.
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From the beginning, Glassybaby had the mission to donate money from sales to help patients with those costs, so they could find healing.
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“glassybaby allow people to take that 30 seconds of peace and calm to find healing,” Lee says. “I feel joy that we have created something that touches so many people.”
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- "A business that shines a good light"
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