Surely you’ve noticed all of those fabulous colored wine glasses and cake plates that seem to be tempting us all lately? From high-end, locally owned home boutiques to big box stores like West Elm, Nordstrom, Anthropologie, and Zola, Estelle Colored Glass seems to be everywhere. Here in the South, where setting a table for special occasions is something many of us grew up doing and continue to do today, having pretty glassware on hand definitely gets noticed. Many of us were taught how to set a table properly from our grandmothers and fondly remember the love so many of our grandmothers had for colored glassware.
This familiar backdrop, the nostalgia so many of us share when setting a table or hosting friends for a glass of wine, is the essence of what makes Estelle Colored Glass such a lovely and authentic brand.
Stephanie Hall is the founder of Estelle Colored Glass, named for her paternal grandmother. And, if you know the brand, you may be shocked to learn that the company is barely two years old! Yes, it launched in October of 2019, just five months before the pandemic shut the world down. But, as people were at home scrolling more than ever on their phones, they were enchanted with the comfort they found in looking at glassware that invoked such lovely memories. Estelle Colored Glass quickly gained momentum.
As popular as Estelle Colored Glass was last year, their sales are tracking with a 500% growth year over year. With 225 stocklists, and both national and international appeal, we’re thrilled to have Stephanie Hall as our FACE of the South today!
As the founder of a glassware company that many associate with special occasions, it’s refreshing to talk to Stephanie, a mom of four children, ages 6 to 14, who readily admits that her family’s house, with so many moving parts, is less of a fine glassware home and more of a “Solo cup kind of place right now. You never know what’s going to bounce off the floor!” So, not only is she an amazing business woman, she’s down to earth as well.
When asked how she came up with the idea behind this company, it was simply from the heart, totally organic. “I was going through the process of trying to purchase pieces for my home … I just felt like, gosh, somebody’s making some beautiful colored glasses and I can build a collection. You know, ones that remind me of the pieces that my grandmother collected. I would spend time searching and I didn’t find any [new pieces]. Everything was on the secondary market … a light bulb went off — this might be a viable business idea. So, I just started conceptualizing and started trying to source glassmakers and some other key parts that I needed to make it a real brand … From start to finish, it took me five years to bring it to market.”
As firm believers that grandmothers live on through all that they teach us, we had to ask Stephanie about the key elements that made her grandmother such a great hostess. Stephanie, without missing a beat, said, “Preparation and organization. She anticipated guests. She was ahead of the game and always well-prepared. Her cupboards were always packed … her menus were very well thought out. That’s one of the things about preparation and organization … that whole element of being very well prepared. Thinking through a menu and not being rushed. Making sure you don’t take any shortcuts. You’re not trying any new recipes, but your preparing things that are tried and true, things that are familiar. You’re doing it because you love it and you’re putting that key ingredient of love into everything. And, because you are so well prepared and organized, it’s not very stressful.
“My grandmother took that whole ‘company might be coming by’ thing very seriously. Homemade dessert cakes and pies to offer … that’s really ingrained in me, being that prepared. It makes your guests feel like you want them there and you were expecting them. You might have to do some finishing touches, but everything is all thought out and the house is in order. It makes it an enjoyable experience for everyone.”
As we talked to Stephanie, we found it so interesting that she talked about organization and preparation as hallmark qualities of her grandmother’s hosting skills, as these same attributes are obviously at play in Stephanie’s day-to-day. In a former life, Stephanie was a full-time attorney. While still working in that field, in 2005, she started an events rental company. It was only after having the rental company for five years that she quit her job as an attorney to pursue entrepreneurship full-time. Then, she researched the concept for Estelle’s Colored Glass for five years, finding the best partners to create and package her product, before officially launching the brand. Today, she runs both companies with her husband’s help as well. This legacy that her grandmother passed on, one of organization and preparation, has obviously steered Stephanie’s career beyond simply being a gracious hostess!
Stephanie laughs when asked about her best sellers, as her best-selling items were not even part of her original collection or first photoshoot! While she offers so many colors and styles, her customers wanted all the colors in one set, not a set with only one color. “Immediately the kind of comments we got were ‘I can’t choose a color. Can I buy one of each color?’ It was not something I thought of, honestly. It was something our customers demanded! These sets outsell our other products by three to one.” And, the mixed sets, which come in a set of six different colors, work especially well for entertaining because each person is assigned a color and can easily keep up with their glass.
For upcoming products, Stephanie mentions new colors for their latest Regal Collection, “We have some different colorways that’ll be here, hopefully, by the holiday season if everything goes well. We’ve got the traditional holiday colors with reds and emerald greens; a fuchsia champagne flute is coming … some new champagne flutes in the spring. We’re excited about these new pieces and planning for these now because of the length of time it takes to get them.”
As we talked to Stephanie, it was interesting to find out what has challenged her as she continues to develop the company. She doesn’t bring up the ongoing supply issues that are plaguing all businesses; it’s actually fulfilling the role of CEO, Founder, and Creative Director. So, not only does she need to do the things she’s comfortable with, like running the business and working with accountants and such, she’s also the one in the hot seat, as she says, for each seasonal campaign. What’s the fall line? The holiday line? The spring line? This is all still orchestrated by her. She is also learning how to be comfortable being the face of a brand. She also mentioned wanting to hire a Co-Creative Director next year (insider tip for anyone eager to apply for this position!).
But, for now, Stephanie continues to be the driving force behind running the company and acting as the creative force behind it. And, mentions of her grandmother, Estelle, are peppered throughout all of her references to what drives her. “Because she’s infused in me. And, I’m the Creative Director here … and again, I’m really the blessed one on my end because I lived one street over, so you know she’s ingrained in every area of my life, you know she taught me different life skills sets. I mean, she just showed me everything. There’s no area of my life that she’s not touched and in some way impacted.”
Stephanie’s passion is so obvious, and she’s so busy that we couldn’t help but wonder if others see everything she is doing to create this successful brand. “Well, I think, if you look at this brand and how it did over the last years in that level of success and you asked me what I contributed to it, I would simply say this: I contributed me. I contributed by sacrificing me for the business. Being present here and making subjective decisions here. Seeing first hand the failures and the successes. I don’t know if the level of success that we’ve achieved would have been possible without me because of all of my failures and how I’ve learned from every one. I learn something important from each thing I’ve tried, and it’s culminated into this brand.
“I love this. I get to talk about my family heritage. It’s a passion project for me. I love colored glass; the product is a product that I love, and it’s a wildly successful business on paper and people love it! So it really took a lot of work to get here, a lot of sacrifices and a lot of soul-searching, and like I said, a lot of failures … being out there, learning from other folks, and putting myself in settings where I could learn from other folks on similar journeys, entrepreneurial journeys.”
Just like we do for all our FACES interviews, we had to ask if Stephanie has a mantra or piece of advice to lean on, and we’re taking this one to heart: “Well, one … preparation is downtime. I didn’t have time once this product became successful to get a lot of things planned out. I already had things planned out; I just needed someone to ask me about it! I had all the preparation already done. I just needed to do the work. You just can’t wait for the door to open and hope that you have the time to prepare to walk through the door. You have to already be prepared when the opportunity presents itself.”
As we end all of our FACES interviews, we were curious about three things Stephanie can’t live without (aside from faith, family, and friends), and at this point of the interview, her answers summed up everything we had just learned about her:
- I’m a learner, so discovering new information and just being inspired. So, I can’t live without learning new things.
- I can’t live without my key principles that I live by. My morals, my principles, my drive.
- I always need something that I’m really passionate about. So, I need passion!
Next time you see Estelle Colored Glass on the shelves of your favorite local store, you now know the story behind the brand. So, when you clink your glasses together with friends, give an extra nod to all the grandmothers, including Estelle.
Be inspired by more Southern creatives, entrepreneurs, and women making a difference in their communities HERE.