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Inspiration Leads to Illumination at glassybaby

July 25, 2020 - by Mason Luvera

Inspiration leads to Illumination at Glassybaby

With a warm and serene storefront right in the Heart of Bellevue, it’s no surprise that glassybaby’s shop on Main Street has become a destination on its own accord. The locally-based artisan retailer’s hand-blown glassware have developed a passionate following in Bellevue – and across the world – for their unique, one-of-a-kind nature. Each "glassybaby" stuns with its colorful hue, and every color represents a different theme tying back to the inspirational story behind the company’s founding: a local woman’s journey with cancer and a charitable mission to help others.

In 1995, glassybaby founder Lee Rhodes was facing a third round of cancer, enduring difficult treatment sessions. The young mother of three didn’t find comfort in much, but she enjoyed lighting colorful votive holders her husband had made in a glassblowing class, finding their warm light soothing and inspiring. This inspiration led to an idea… she wanted to share this simple comfort with others, and glassybaby was born.

The company’s namesake “glassybaby” holders come in dozens of colors, each inspired by a different theme surrounding family, friends and experiences. Every piece is also handmade by local glass artisans ensuring no one is the same.  This simple approach has resulted in an explosion of popularity, with a glassybaby becoming a gift of choice and a popular collectors item for the home.  The company may have style with a story, but their charitable mission drives everything they do.

While undergoing her cancer treatments, Rhodes met fellow patients who didn’t have the same support she did. Some couldn’t afford their medical bills, or didn’t have others to care for them at home. She knew she wanted to use glassybaby as a way to support others, and the company has been donating $3 from the sale of each glassybaby to charities supporting those receiving cancer treatment since the beginning. So far, they've donated $10 million.

With their popularity soaring over the years, you’ve likely seen a glassybaby lit on a restaurant table or in a friend’s livingroom, or maybe you already have one yourself. Either way, check out glassybaby’s gorgeous store in Old Bellevue to see what colors the company’s artisans have crafted up. With each piece’s unique beauty and a good story behind it, you’ll be hard-pressed not to leave with one.

This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign, and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.