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Meet Trailblazer Sarah Michalik

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Michalik.

Sarah, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always had an interest in art, but I fell in love with glass 15 years ago. By junior year, I had already taken every art course offered at my high school but still hadn’t found my passion. I decided to take matters into my own hands and proposed an elective class to the principal: Glassblowing 101. I was hooked from the first moment I got to work with molten glass. I got my learner’s permit as soon as I could and began driving to Boston from my hometown, And over, twice a week to take classes.

From that point forward, I learned as much as I could about the material, spending the better part of a decade immersing myself in the world of glass. After earning my master’s degree I channeled my knowledge and experience into starting my own company: Charged Glassworks. Charged is an industry term, which describes filling a furnace with raw material – such as silica, soda and lime – and melting it down to produce molten glass. For me, it also speaks to the excitement and rush associated with working molten glass and the creative potential that a newly charged furnace suggests.

I rent time at a local studio to blow glass for my product line and to produce sculptural pieces for exhibitions. I run the business from my home office and ship my products worldwide to individuals, galleries and stores. I spend most weekends selling directly to New Englanders through roughly 50 in-person markets throughout the year.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Running your own company has many ups and downs. I found out very quickly that being a talented glass blower does not translate directly to being a successful business owner. I also had to become a product photographer, brand specialist, accountant, saleswoman, website developer, social media influencer and the list is still growing. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of work that running a business entails, and the variety of skills you have to develop. The pressure can make you feel like you should never stop working because there is always more to be done. My one piece of advice is to learn how to create a healthy life/work schedule. Give yourself a break, ask for help when you need it and find a balance you can work with, otherwise, you won’t be able to reach your full potential. At the end of the day, I am blowing glass because I love it because I’m passionate about it and it makes me happy. When I overwork myself I lose some of my passion and creativity to stress and exhaustion. I am still figuring out how to find this balance myself. My resolution this year is to be vigilant about how I’m spending my time – to work smarter, not harder.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Charged Glassworks – what should we know?
As a brand, I’ve always wanted to set my products apart from what’s already been done in glass. My collection has a colorful, contemporary feel and appeals to those interested in showcasing a modern style. I try to bring color and levity to products that can traditionally tend to be a bit mundane. For example – my best selling home-decor product is a play on a common offering – the paperweight. My glass pineapple paperweights come in bright colors and are accompanied by a live air plant crown. A lot of my work has this play on sculpture and recognizable objects, which often makes people smile.

I’m most known for my jewelry pieces and I’ve sold thousands of earrings and necklaces since starting my line. I add metal inclusions such as copper, gold, and silver to my glass to elevate the look of my statement jewelry. While I have a set line of jewelry that I make for retail shops, I also sell one-of-a-kind pieces for weddings, parties and gifts. It really does make someone feel special when they are the only one in the world with that piece of jewelry. Personally, I love making them because it forces me to be creative and allows me to experiment with new techniques.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
My mom has always been an inspiration to me. She is the most optimistic person I’ve ever met but is also the kind of person who doesn’t expect things to just fall in place. She taught me to work tirelessly to get what you want in life. She also taught me that it’s ok to fail, because it means you learned something in the process.

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Image Credit:
Sarah Michalik

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