Founder, A Passion for Glass
Passion isn't something that can be made, but it is carved in glass in each of the bespoke pieces created by Soozie Hilker. An eternal optimist, Soozie has launched her own business at the age of 59 and the only road ahead is forwards. Crafting completely bespoke pieces for her clients, A Passion for Glass is more than just her business name, it is her heart etched in each piece she creates.
What's the story behind your business? | Due to a family illness, I recently returned to Australia after living in Europe and the United Kingdom for nearly 22 years. When the unexpected opportunity arose to start my own business I had, initially, intended to draw on my corporate background and experience to commence my enterprise. However, one sunny morning, whilst meditating, I had what could only be described as an 'Aha' moment and, in the calm space between breathing in and breathing out, the realisation occurred that I wanted to choose a different path - and that was to work with glass.
I had what can only be described as an 'Aha moment and, in the calm space between breathing in and breathing out, the realisation occurred that I wanted to choose a different path [for my business] - and that was to work with glass.
Why did you choose the name 'A Passion for Glass'? | I was having a phone conversation with my sister describing my vision of the business, it's future and the pieces I was creating, and she remarked on the passion she heard in my voice. I realised then that 'A Passion for Glass' was the perfect name, as it completely reflects how I feel when working with this medium.
Why did you choose to work with glass over other materials? | My love for working with glass commenced in the late 1980's as a hobby working with stained glass. I have always loved the illuminating effects light and shadow casts on the different glasses, and I find this medium extremely emotive and rewarding when creating different designs. I was recently given the experience of working with 'warm' or fused glass and, from that moment, I was hooked. When kiln-heated glass is incredibly hot, it becomes this beautiful, living, fluid form and the 'natural' elements within the glass take over to create minute changes; creating a unique piece and leading to exciting discoveries each time the kiln is 'cracked'.
How do you feel taking the risk of launching your own business? What advantages and challenges are the result of launching at 59 years of age? | Good question! I guess I am slightly older than the average age a person commences a new business endeavour, however, I have an extremely diverse business background - including flight attendant, area manager for a prestigious car brand, manager for an international company and international on-site conference coordinator - from which to draw experiences from.
On my personal journey, I have travelled extensively since 18 years of age. I've lived in many foreign countries and studied a number of natural therapies, and these experiences combine and are drawn from on a daily basis, either consciously or sub-consciously. As a sole trader, with all the areas of business this entails, naturally there are the very rare nano-seconds when I question my decisions. However, in these moments, a quote comes to mind:
Fear is past experiences and challenges,
Strangling the present,
And suffocating the future!
And that is definitely not for me...
What is your favourite piece that you've created, and why? | Definitely the 'Tree of Life'. The commissions for this piece are so personal and varied - a Mother wanting her children's initials 'carved' into the tree trunk, a newly married couple with a 'carved' heart containing their initials and a young woman who recently lost a sibling wanting his initials carved as a personal memorial - each one a touching commission and I feel honoured that I have been allowed to share in these moments.
How do you represent the customer and yourself in all of your bespoke pieces? | Listening and hearing the client's 'story' surrounding the bespoke piece is the most important factor. This gives me the vision of how to best create the memories or events they wish to remember. It's their story told in glass.
What are you working on now and what's next for A Passion for Glass? | At present, a commission of the Arthurian legend 'The Green Man', the Wierwood Tree from the popular Game of Thrones television series, and a set of glass 'etis' coasters, part of a series based on the story 'The Starfish Thrower'.
What's next? Christmas is just around the corner! Creating delicate Christmas decorations, experimenting with 'lacing' glass, working towards my own studio and kiln and, on a personal level, preparing myself for the 870km Camino De Santiago trek across France and Spain next year to celebrate my 60th birthday.