Business: Lauren Urban
Web site: laurenurban.etsy.com
Location: Alexandria, Virginia (just outside Washington, D.C.)
What do you create?
I am a fused glass artist who primarily focuses on jewelry and house wares. My most popular items are sushi dish sets.
Where and when do you do your creative work?
I have a studio in my garage and can be found creating something nearly every minute I am at home.
Do you have another "day job"?
Like many artists I have dreams of leaving my "real job" to work for myself, but the truth is that I also love my career. I am an engineer who specializes in automobile safety testing. I spend my days crashing cars and working with child safety seats.
Where and what did you study?
I have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Throughout college and afterwards, I supplemented all that left brain education with as many studio art classes as I could take. One of those classes was a one-day glass fusing workshop in April of 2005, which served as the foundation for my current endeavor. Besides that I am largely self-taught.
Where do you find inspiration?
I actually get a lot of it from the glass itself. I also obsessively monitor high fashion and home decor design and love trickling those concepts and trends down into my pieces.
What motivates you?
I love to create things, obviously, so that is a factor. I've been pretty strong-willed and independent since I was a kid, and I love the feeling of seeing something through from start to finish. I find that's about all the motivation I need!
When did you start doing this?
I have crafted all my life, but I began glass fusing about three years ago, in the spring of 2005.
Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
My mother is extremely artistic, and we were rather poor growing up. Lots of our childhood games and activities revolved around egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, pipe cleaners and crayons. She always came up with the neatest ideas; she is the #1 reason I am a creative person.
When and why did you decide to start your own business?
I officially started a business in April of 2007. It was a combination of trying to offset the cost of my hobby as well as demands from family and friends. At the time I also had an abundance of product that I didn't have any room for... a girl really can have too much jewelry! Once Etsy was created I knew that would be a great solution for me and it has just gone on from there.
How did you choose the name for your business?
Unfortunately my real name is rather common; I also have to share it with a teenage Canadian actress. In an effort to better distinguish myself on the Internet, I decided I had to come up with a "stage" name and liked the rhythm and feel of "Lauren Urban". I also think it reflects the modern feel that a lot of my work has.
What do you love most about creating your work?
I love ending up with finished products, of course, but I also find working with glass very relaxing – scoring, breaking, arranging, stacking, grinding – I actually find the monotony to be kind of Zen.
What's the most fascinating place you've been?
London, hands down, though Vancouver is a close second.
A book you love:
I love The Stranger by Camus, as well as The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.
What is the most interesting thing about you?
People are often surprised to hear that I was born and raised in Brooklyn.
What achievement are you most proud of?
I am most proud of learning to love and listen to myself. It sounds so corny, but it's really true.
What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Seek out your local small business association! I took a number of business start-up classes and the majority was either free or cheap. They are an excellent resource.
What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Time! Glass fusing is a lot of hurry up and wait… It can take up to eight hours for a single dish to cool properly.
What do you love to do in your free time?
Fuse glass! I also love bad television, cooking, sewing and traveling.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on quite a few sushi sets, as well as earrings and bracelets, which are both kind of underrepresented in my shop right now.
What do you hope to achieve next?
I’d like to hit 100 items on Etsy in the next few months, and I always think about incorporating soft goods into my shop as I’m also an avid seamstress. We'll have to see, though – I feel overwhelmed sometimes as it is, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way!