Absolutely! Here's an article printed/posted by the Medford Mail Tribune in 2007 by Jim Craven.
"Red Oak Glass
The goal is to keep growing, blowing and have some time to explore.
[Glass lamps are on display at Red Oak Glass. Employee Curtis Van De Vooren works in the background.]
Posted Jan. 15, 2007 at 2:00 AM
Updated Apr 14, 2007 at 11:49 AM Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it?
Make handblown glass lights. I started making handblown glass in 1968 and began doing this business for five years.
How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley?
We've lived here for seven years and moved here from San Diego.
What inspired you to go into this line of work?
I came back from Vietnam in 1968 and went to San Jose State and there it was. There wasn't any decision, it was like, handblown glass is it. I ended up teaching it at San Jose for a while.
What decision or action would you change if you could do it again?
I would go talk to a marketing person first. I know how to make things and I know how to express my art. If you don't do the other half of the business, you can't stay in business. The hardest thing to keep going is the marketing end. If you don't get out and do that, know one knows you're there. It's one of the things that small business does last and if you don't, you die. Too often artistic people create inventory, pay bills and all that stuff and forget the rest.
I could've saved myself many thousands of dollars. Not knowing any better, I started out in small craft fairs. T he money we made paid for being there, but didn't make anything beyond that. We went to shows back East that cost $5,000. Not only did we not make any money, but we got about $25,000 behind and it's really hard to catch-up when you do that. In art school, they talk about reaching your inner stuff, but they don't teach you how to market yourself.
What's the toughest business decision you've made?
To spend money when I didn't have it for marketing. We have a show coming up at the end of the month that costs $1,500. It will cost $3,000 to $4,000 for the show, so do I throw dice? I can't tell you enough about getting into the right markets.
Who are your competitors?
Right now, the biggest competitors are Home Depot and Lowe's. You can get crappy Chinese things for about $60 or $70. About 80 percent of our stuff is custom. Our lights are about $300 apiece. We did a ceiling lamp for a guy in Tiberon (Calif.) that cost about $20,000.
How do you define success for your business?
When the new month comes up and you have enough money in the bank to pay the rent.
I let myself enjoy things happen like they're supposed to every day. You can't control glass, you just make an agreement with it — glass cracks, breaks and is fragile. When I make something I feel is good, that's success; but if I can't pay the bills it doesn't matter.
What are your goals?
We now have 10 distributors around the country and have done some international things. I want to do production work four days a week and have one day for creative work. If you look in people's houses all the color is on people's walls. The goal is to keep growing, blowing and have some time to explore. We get interns over from Crater High School and they look and see what we're doing and they can see how they can do a business instead of working for someone else.
What training or education did you need?
All I had was enthusiasm and dogged determination. I was in the third class that Dr. Robert Fritz taught at San Jose State. From there, I launched my career and I kept doing it through 1985 when I went into high-tech as an art director for 11 years before I came up here. I got a loan from SOREDI (Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc.) and that's what got me going. It forced me to take myself seriously.
What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Ride along or walk along with people in a job and see what they do. Don't do it for a couple days, but as much as you can and ask good questions. Take pictures and make a collage of a person's whole work. Go to a five-day retail show and see what it's like and then go back to work the next day; that's what it's like"