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Working It: A Peek into Glass Elements' New Space

Blog

Working It: A Peek into Glass Elements' New Space

Academy Of Handmade

One of the biggest steps you can make in running your own business is going from your home to an outside space. It's both a risk and reward. And while it's not a "next step" for everyone, there are a lot of advantages it can provide. We thought we'd ask Marja Huhta of Glass Elements {AHAS member} about moving into her new space and the when, why and how of deciding to branch out from a home studio.

Q: Introduce yourself and what you make and how long you've been doing it.
A: Hi! I’m Marja Huhta, a glass artist currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I handcraft modern, colorful glass jewelry and glass art.

I started dabbling in glass in 2006, prompted by a career counselor who challenged me to try something new. I fell in love with it, and took every class I could manage. I started selling my work in 2007 to acquaintances, colleagues and friends while I was working a full time job in biotech. After moving across the country from DC to Seattle in 2008, I was faced with a generous opportunity: to strike out on my own doing what I love. So, I started my Etsy shop and began selling at local events.

Q: What sort of workshop set up do you have now and what was it like before?
A: I just moved into a brand new studio at Makers Work Space in Berkeley, CA. I have about 300 sq. feet split up into two connecting rooms. I’m planning on using one space as my work space and the other as more of a gallery/office space.

Prior to this, I was at a smaller, more office-like rental space for a year, and before that I worked out of my home.

Q: When did you know you needed your own space?
A: When we lived in Seattle, we owned a house and I had most of a 1000+ sf basement as my “glass mines”. It was a great solution – I could work from home and save money on rent with plenty of space to spread out. But, I always felt a bit lonely and missed the camaraderie of coworkers. Also, I refused to invite customers over to my “showroom” to look at or sell my work, since it was also our home and felt like an invasion of our privacy. During the last year we lived in Seattle, I was seriously considering renting a separate space, but never felt motivated enough to do it.

New Berkeley studio space of Marja Huhta of Glass Elements {AHAS member}  

New Berkeley studio space of Marja Huhta of Glass Elements {AHAS member}  

When we relocated to the Bay Area last year, I took that opportunity as a sign to move the studio out into the world as well. Plus the fact that houses in the Bay Area CA don’t have basements to take over as studio spaces had a little something to do with it too…

Q: What's been the biggest surprise about moving your operations out of your home?
A: I actually get more work done in my studio, while spending less dedicated time there! Even with being around more people, I still have the ability to close my studio door and have less distractions – like house chores or my dog begging for attention.

Q: The biggest obstacle to a new space is often finances. Can you share how you've overcome this and if you feel like the move into a new space has paid for itself?
A: Since I waited several years and already had an established business, I was in a place to afford it when I needed to. But I’ve also found having “real rent” is very motivating – and has resulted in taking my business more seriously – resulting in the space paying for itself. I’m looking forward to having a dedicated show space now, which I think will also help on that front.

New Berkeley studio space of Marja Huhta of Glass Elements {AHAS member}

New Berkeley studio space of Marja Huhta of Glass Elements {AHAS member}

New Berkeley studio space of Marja Huhta of Glass Elements {AHAS member}

New Berkeley studio space of Marja Huhta of Glass Elements {AHAS member}

Q: What advice would you give to a maker contemplating their own space?
A: Go and tour a few different places! Make sure the vibe of the space fits for you and what you make. If you’re scared of making a full commitment to a space by yourself, check with other friends to see if you could rent one together to bring the cost down.

Q: Where can people find your stuff?
A: You can find my work online here: http://www.glasselements.org and join me on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/GlassElements