Meet the Cartel: Malfatti Glass
Welcome back to our interview series, Meet the Cartel, a spotlight on Big Cartel shop owners. Today we’re excited to learn more about Jill Reynolds and Daniel Spitzer, the duo behind Malfatti Glass out of New York.
How did you get into making glassware?
We had both been working with glass in one form or another for years but never with the intent of making a line of functional glassware. Jill made the first glass as a demonstration for a sculptural glass class she was teaching, and after we got very positive feedback for its feel and form we were smart enough not to ignore those signs. Dan moved from making glass at a furnace to working at a torch to be able to achieve the lightness, strength and appeal of Malfatti Glass, and makes every glass by hand in our studio in New York.
Why did you choose Big Cartel?
Big Cartel offered us flexibility in scaling up our product offering and the ability to personalize our site. As one of the larger e-commerce sites, Big Cartel is populated by a diverse variety of businesses and so draws a very large audience.
Tell us about your most popular item in your shop.
Our Prosecco stemless flute glasses are our best seller, probably because they’re popular as gifts for celebratory occasions like weddings and birthdays; followed by the Vino Rosso (the large stemless wine glass), and the Rocks glasses.
And what’s your favorite item in your shop?
Jill: I’m partial to the Small glass, since it was the first drinking glass I ever made and it fits my hand nicely.
Dan: I just got a new torch and I’m pretty jazzed with it.
Why did you choose your current theme for your shop?
We chose the Luna theme because it has a very light feel that reflects the glass that we make. Its spare design doesn’t feel over-built or cluttered and allows our images to be the primary focus of each page.
Check out the Luna theme for your own Big Cartel shop.
What does a regular workday look like for you?
In the studio by 9 and finished by 8, if all goes according to plan. With production, quality control, packing, shipping, and admin all happening in the same studio space it can be tough to get it all done within a 10 hour day, but we make it work most days.
Who or what inspires you?
What’s a moment in your career, or life in general, that you’re proud of?
We won a competition to design and make an installation for the lobby of a modernist skyscraper in honor of Pittsburgh’s history of glass manufacturing. Called “Rivers of Glass,” it was comprised of about 1,300 blown glass pieces in eight shades of blue, whose shapes were based on high-speed photographs of water droplets. Hung three to four per each of 365 strands, they mapped out the three rivers of Pittsburgh in plan view, and was seen as an undulating wave from the plaza outside.
What was the most unexpected challenge you have encountered while running your own business? How did you overcome that challenge?
Sustaining a business is a challenge for two people who weren’t looking to begin one in the first place. We’ve been very lucky to have started this just as social media was taking off. Big Cartel was instrumental to how people found us, and now our customer base is worldwide.
How do you like to unwind after a particularly busy day?
Any advice for someone thinking about opening up their own shop?
Get a good photographer! Our sales and social media presence really took off once we had our glassware photographed by the wizard of light, Meredith Heuer.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
Installations? Lighting? Teaching? Early retirement? Failure is not an option!
Twizzlers or Red Vines?
Neither! Regal Crown in Sour Lemon.
Give us three recommendations… for anything!
The radio’s going almost all the time we’re in the studio, with a pretty eclectic mix of news, podcasts, and music, including:
Where can people find you online?