HANTSPORT, N.S. — What started as admiration and an appreciation of fused glass giftware back in 2005 has turned into a full-blown business for two Hantsport residents.
School Street Studio Glass owners Tim Carr and Jason Tucker never intended to get into the business — they both had other jobs — but when the opportunity arose, they grabbed it.
“We moved to Nova Scotia in 2005 and probably that first year we drove to Maitland just on an afternoon and discovered a business called Studio Glass by Sharon Laska,” said Carr, who was a school teacher.
“We were really taken with it. The place was just a treasure.”
The pair frequently visited the store to buy gifts and to browse, but in September 2014, they noticed a for sale sign and, after speaking with the owners, mulled over the idea of buying the business and relocating it to Hantsport.
“We were worried — because it was such a special business — that it would disappear so that was part of our motivation but we also thought it would be a wonderful business for the Annapolis Valley,” said Carr, noting they knew nothing about producing fused glass works of art.
The business, renamed School Street Studio Glass and based out of their home on the aptly name School Street in Hantsport, opened Jan. 1, 2015.
“We moved her business here on a very cold day in January, dragged tons of glass and supplies in. The paint was still drying on the walls,” recalled Tucker.
“It was a very steep learning curve because we had orders that we had to fill from the beginning, either inherited from Sharon or we had met people and they placed orders,” Carr said, noting they had a few training sessions before the business became theirs. “We were busy from the get-go and just learning really, really quickly what we were doing.”
Carr left his teaching profession to pursue the home-based business full time. Tucker still holds his full-time job at Mermaid Theatre and works, largely in the evenings, at the studio.
“My joke has always been that it's my second full-time job,” said Tucker.
Fulfilling business goals
The couple has been kept busy filling wholesale orders from merchants across the province — and country — and aiding in fundraisers for local charitable organizations. Now they’re ready to branch out even more.
“Any success or any positive things that are coming out of this business for us, I have to attribute to the community that we live in, first of all. The people in Hantsport have just embraced us. People have tried to find ways to buy things from us even though it's not really what we do,” said Carr.
School Street Studio Glass will be moving in the near future to a more accessible location in Hantsport. The business owners will be able to sell their wares directly to customers, and they will be able to host workshops instead of travelling to put them on.
“It's been a goal for a while now to have a place that the public could come. Honestly, glass is pretty, it's shiny and people are drawn to it. I feel kind of bad that we haven't been able to give people a place to come play with it and make their own art,” said Carr, while sitting in the small studio workshop.
Carr said they're not ready to divulge the new location just yet, but indicated the move will be happening this year.
“The workshops are really the motivation for us to move to a space where people can come because there's a lot of demand for it. People, I think, want experiences and the workshops are fun. It's always exciting for kids to use glass as well for a medium because it doesn't really happen generally,” Carr said.
When he hosts workshops in classrooms, Carr said teachers are always surprised by the silence that falls over the students as they focus on creating their item.
“It's a very therapeutic activity,” Carr said.
“I can do this workshop with about 50 people at a time and the variety of things that people make is mind blowing; it's absolutely astounding how talented people are, how creative.”
Carr said he set some goals when the business launched and he's pleased with how well they're coming along in achieving them.
“My two business goals were, No.1, to participate in the economy because it's fragile, especially in this area — we all know that — and No. 2, to create employment,” he said.
School Street Studio Glass employs both Carr and Tucker plus Heather Donohue, as a part-time employee. They're hoping to add more hours and people as the years go by.
“Because we don't have our own shop, I get the sense sometimes that people think we're back here making crafts. It's a surprise when people learn that we're making things by the dozen or by the hundred and sending them out all across Canada,” said Tucker.
Enjoying what they do
Both Carr and Tucker said they thoroughly enjoy creating fused glass giftware.
“There are so many different things that need to be done to make just one thing. I enjoy the pieces and the process of making something,” said Carr.
For Tucker, it's the excitement of seeing the finished product.
“Still one of my favourite things is just opening the kiln every time,” said Tucker.
“We work on all of these things — we cut them and grind them and glue them and put them in the kiln. Then you turn on the kiln and you can't open it for 16 or 18 hours,” he said. “Every time you open it, you have your fingers crossed that everything is just shiny and clean.”
Carr said he never imagined himself changing careers but after operating the business successfully for two years, he hopes other people will be inspired to try something they're passionate about.
“I would never have thought of myself as an entrepreneur, ever,” said Carr.
But thanks to the support the business has received so far, especially from the local community, Carr said he's excited to expand their business and their creative offerings.
“My goal for the business is for it to be a bit of a destination in Hantsport,” said Carr. “It's a great community, Hantsport. It's a treasure. “
Where to buy
Customers can purchase School Street Studio Glass giftware from the following local retailers:
Home Hardware — 39 Main St., Hantsport, NS
Mosaic Market — 141 Water St., Windsor, NS
Island Beach Company — Halifax Stanfield International Airport
Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia — Halifax, NS
Made in the Maritimes Artisan Boutique — Bedford, NS
Designer Craft Shop — Halifax, NS
Prescott House Museum — Port Williams, NS
Dempsey Corner Orchards — Aylesford, NS
Charlotte Lane Gift Shop & Cafe — Shelburne, NS
To learn more about School Street Studio Glass, visit: https://schoolstreetglass.ca.