33 years ago Annie Morhauser fell in love with the traditional art of working with glass. After learning a wide range of glass techniques she developed her own unique way of glass formation and her signature line, Annieglass was born. In 1983 she took the world by storm with her Roman Antique glass—a thick panel of glass with a wide rim of 24-karat gold. Retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales took notice and today, Annieglass is a sought after and widely known brand. With a Santana Row boutique and new collections released twice a year, Annieglass continues to grow and influence the glass making world. Her spring 2017 collection is made with scrap glass using a new cutting-edge method that she’s currently patenting. “For years I have struggled with trying to make something beautiful out of scrap glass. The limitations have overwhelmed me until I started using water jet technology to improve my designs,” Morhauser told Haute Living. “I am determined to find a way to reduce and reuse glass waste for industry; I hope it has larger applications to solve this global problem.” Morhauser is based in the Santa Cruz Mountains and despite widespread success—some of her designs have made it to the Smithsonian and her platters can be found at hotels and restaurants like the Four Seasons and Waldorf Astoria—her company is still very much a small business. In honor of small business Saturday and in celebration of local brands such as Annieglass, Gump’s and Shreve & Co., we sat down with Morhauser to learn more about her brand and what it means to be a small luxury business.
Why is small business Saturday important to business owners?
It gives small businesses more of a level playing field with the major businesses and online businesses, allowing for us to stand out and show off our specialties.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with their small business?
Keep your standards unrealistically high and people will notice. Give yourself enough of a cushion—two years before you start paying back any sort of a loan and market like crazy.
How has the market changed since she started 30 years ago?
Yes, it does change every few years with different generations, regional tastes, trends, etc.
Do you think glass crafting is a dying art?
Yes, absolutely! It’s terribly difficult to do and “many are called but few are chosen” that is why it’s so unique. People are always so curious because its not very well-known, yet it is an ancient art.
Do you feel today’s young people have an appreciation for glass?
They have a keen appreciation for anything handcrafted. I think the science of making glass is also very appealing to the curious.
How does it feel when you come across one of your pieces in an unexpected place?
It makes me giddy with joy to see it! The first time it happened was at the Smithsonian. I had no idea how it would be displayed or even if it would be. Two pieces from my Shells Collection, Coquina and Tiburon, are on permanent display in the Luce Foundation Collection of American Craft at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The Luce Foundation Collection opened in 2006 in the former patent office and adjacent to the National Portrait Gallery, and was intended as a study area for research into American contemporary craft and folk artists. As such, each piece is displayed as artifacts for study. The Coquina and Tiburon are made of frosted and sandblasted glass with a hand-painted 24K gold edge.