Simon Pearce: The Man Behind the Glass
Simon often worked late into the night, fixing up the old mill and building his own glass factory. He was pursuing a vision that combined his studio skills with a keen business sense: He wanted to make high-quality, handmade glassware and pottery for everyday use. Inspired by those old rummers he used to collect, he wanted to make things that people would use and enjoy.
As the company grew, Simon faced the challenge of maintaining quality while producing larger and larger quantities. This amplified an internal struggle, says Simon: “I realized that I was growing the business with the idea that more would make me happier, but I was no happier than when I had nothing. I took five years of pulling back from the business. I started reading, mostly Buddhist writings — Thich Nhat Hanh and others. The books of Anthony de Mello had a profound effect on me.”
Today, Simon is fully engaged in the company but his outlook has shifted. His business values are now identical to the implied message of his products: A sufficiency of fine quality is better than an excess of anything. It’s an unlikely formula for success in an age of mass production and deep discounts, but he says many people are eager for something different.
“I actually think the future for quality and handmade products is very bright,” he says. Last year, his company produced 575,000 pieces of glassware. That’s a lot of customers willing to pay the price for good workmanship.
Simon would like to see more craftspeople develop their marketing skills as well as their artistic talents. “Many people get into crafts as a reaction to the mainstream world. They get it in their heads that business is a bad thing. But the reality is, once you make something and sell it, you’re in business. I love the combination of the two.”