Artist Jake Pfeifer founded a busy glassblowing studio, and pivoted during a difficult time to keep his business thriving. See more of his work on his website.
I started my company, Hot Glass Alley (HGA), in 2013. I opened my own studio and gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2018. My goal is to be a provider of innovative handmade glass art products that represent my brand, are of high quality, and are affordable. In addition, my mission is to educate the public about the ancient art of glass blowing.
Our model includes selling to wholesale customers across the continental United States as well as Hawaii. Additionally, we offer retail shopping in the gallery and experiential activities in the hot shop. These includes make-your-owns, lessons and public demonstrations. We also host events such as birthday parties and team building events and sponsor guest artists. And, we hold art shows and make corporate gift commissions as well as make one-of-a-kind pieces of art.
By our eighteen-month anniversary, we had employed seven people and were building a loyal regional following. We were in the black and business was great! Then, the COVID-19 pandemic made its way into North Carolina.
In early March, 2020, the state appropriately closed and so did Hot Glass Alley. Until North Carolina completely lifts restrictions, we are limiting the number of people that can be in our gallery. This has impacted our revenues.
Our wholesale customers have been affected as well. They needed to push back orders because of the downturn in business. As of May 11, our team was back in the shop working together with precautions.
Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.
The virus will be around at least until a vaccine becomes available. I knew my business could not hold on long enough to ride out the virus with just gallery sales.
I implemented our tagline, “Gather Your Imagination.” We revisited our marketing plan and reset the strategy. It was time to be innovative and agile. I like the quote from Sun Tzu in The Art of War, “Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.”
I continue to produce my signature series artworks so they are still available; however, our marketing strategy has shifted away from bringing the public into the studio for events. We’ve moved toward home decor and public installations of wall art and lighting projects. We are continuing with corporate commissions, and one-of-a-kind high-end art. In addition, we’re networking with interior designers and architects, placing ads in designer and local magazines and have sponsored an ad on NPR. Our social media presence is ramping up with Instagram and Facebook. And, we deliver a one-page colorful monthly Newsletter called “Alley Talk.”
The focus of our new model is reaching out to new markets as well as continuing to strengthen our regular customer base. We are updating our website to reflect these changes. So far, these new strategies are working for us.
I am personally building my knowledge and skills so that I have more resources to leverage in order to be able to survive through other circumstances that may come my way.
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