Lee Rhodes’ glassybaby is a rags to riches entrepreneurial story that makes people want to stand up and applaud. Despite being told over and over that her company, glassybaby, a hand-blown colorful glass candle holders, would not work, it has instead grown 40-50% each year since 2009 to a projected 2012 revenue of $8.5 million.
From the beginning, glassybaby donated money from sales to charities helping cancer patients. Rhodes remembered meeting people in waiting rooms who could not afford basic day to day costs like bus fare and groceries during treatment. Health insurance does not help with those needs so she wanted to help fill that gap. glassybaby has donated more than $950,000 from sales to charities dedicated to healing and helping patients with those costs during chemotherapy. The company will be able write a check that will put them over a million this month.
Rhodes, a keynote speaker at the MBA Women International leadership conference, was named Entrepreneur of 2011 from Entrepreneur magazine. She is the first woman to win the award.
Here are her three tips for budding entrepreneurs:
- “I have always believed if you stick to your mission, people will commit to you. From the beginning, glassybaby has given back money from sales to charities helping people heal. Our community and customers know we are committed to that mission.”
- “You can receive input from a lot of different people but in the end make sure you follow your own heart. No one will protect your brand like you will.”
- “The best way to know the economics of your business is to talk to employees at every level and your community of customers. You will gain an emotional connection to all the financials for your company and that will help you make better decisions.”
Edited by Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets