Glassybaby lights hearts and homes
Zen. Goodness. Miracle. Every glassybaby has a distinct color and name that evokes sentiment in buyers, and often in recipients of these hand-blown glasses that act as gifts that keep on giving.
glassybaby is a company that sells tea light glasses, as well as drinking glasses, with the goal of giving back part of their proceeds to nonprofits. The glassybaby store in downtown Lake Oswego opened in August 2016 and is one of eight locations. A ninth location will open June 21 in downtown Seattle.
Founder Lee Rhodes was diagnosed with lung cancer and felt hope and strength radiate from a glass lit by a tea candle made by her husband. This was the spark of glassybaby as a business and as a charitable cause to give funds to people who deal with many living expenses not covered by insurance while battling cancer, or for other nonprofit causes involving the environment and animals.
The White Light Fund was created in 2015 as the charitable platform for glassybaby. $3 from every glass is donated to this fund, which distributes monthly and quarterly grants. Any person or organization may apply, or be nominated for a grant through their website or social media. The Bay Area Hospital, Candlelighters For Children With Cancer and Michelle's Love are the recipients of the last quarterly grants.
glassybaby has locations in Seattle, Lake Oswego and the Bay Area and for the first time, all quarterly grants will benefit groups in the Portland area. Michelle's Love will specifically use their $5,000 grant to financially aid two more single parent families undergoing cancer treatment.
In September, glassybaby plans to celebrate donating $10 million. Candlelighters uses donations for many things including running a summer family camp, aiding with costs of cancer treatments and supplementing hospital meal plans. The Bay Area Hospital will use funds to support patients in Coos Bay, Oregon.
Giving is one of the three arms of the triskelion of the glassybaby symbol. Craft is another important element of glassybaby. "One of a kindness" is the glassybaby motto as each glass is hand-blown and is slightly unique. Kelli Hanson, store manager in Lake Oswego, said customers enjoy searching for the perfect shade and size, and that every glass can carry meaning.
A pink glass called "smooch" may be perfect for a 60th wedding anniversary and a white "celebrate" may complete a perfect patriotic ensemble for a Fourth of July gathering.
Glassybaby holds an annual "seconds sale" with discounted glasses that have imperfections. This sale draws customers from all over the state and the country. A woman from the Midwest flew to Oregon to be the first in line at the seconds sale this past March.
"People say they are addicted," Hanson said.
Family is the third and final arm of the glassybaby triskelion. Hanson said her time working at glassybaby isn't always easy as many customers share stories of loss, but that making connections with the community is important and it has fostered her own healing processes since the passing of her mother.
"Whether it is a loss, sickness, new baby, new job, wedding or birthday, we have the perfect color or name," Hanson said. "It is a gift that keeps giving and people can feel good about not only giving or receiving a glassybaby, but knowing that a portion of those proceeds will be helping all of us spread kindness."
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