Jessy Carrara, owner of LightGarden Glass Art, looks through one of her creations. - Jim Craven

Home Grown: LightGarden Glass Art

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? (Jessy speaking) We sell supplies and glass for stained glass, fused glass and mosaics. We do classes and provide architectural and clear glass for cabinet panels and mirrors for cabinets. We also do custom commissions. If people give us an idea, I can draw and design it. We started this as a side business 25 years ago and opened a retail shop five years ago.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? I've lived here since 1967, moving here from Huntington Beach, Calif., and Rick moved up from San Francisco in 1977.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? I've always done art and dabbled in glass before I knew what I was doing and did some etching. I had a bookkeeping business and was tired of being locked in an office all day and night. I had always loved the patterns, would draw pictures and loved doing it. Once I started, there wasn't any doubt in my mind that's what I wanted to do.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? When going into something like stained glass, it's an iffy proposition. I think we have a solid base now. If we would have gone out and opened a store, we probably wouldn't have been in business very long. Any time you work at a home business you're under the radar, no matter how much you market yourself. I did the Zion Lutheran Church windows on Fourth and Oakdale. People would read it in the paper, but it was still out of sight, out of mind. We were still looking for our next commission after that exposure. Trying to make glass understandable and affordable for people is hard. Our Web site was really instrumental in getting people to know about us. We've had our Web site up since 1999 and that's really helped. They can see your work and home studio.

What's the toughest business decision you've made? Opening a retail shop. We had thought about it for a long time. People had been asking for us to hold classes, and having classes at home meant having people around all hours of the day. Things culminated, and we could see we were ready to branch out. People need to feel like they are in an artist studio. By moving into a retail location, we have a nice, large, back room and people can spread out and get into what they're doing.

Who are your competitors? Our toughest competitors are online. They come out with these great deals and what they can do for you. But they don't mention boxing charges, handling charges and you really don't get service like you do when you walk into the store and say, 'How do I do this?' Delphi Stained Glass Supplies in Lansing, Mich.

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