Our jaws just about dropped when we discovered Flannery Cronin’s Friend of All stained glass light fixtures. Each piece is completely unique and offers home dwellers the opportunity to add beauty and color to their homes, even if they may not own them. Get to know Flannery and her artistic process in our Maker Spotlight interview below!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?
Yes actually! My big brother Dakota was my biggest supporter in quitting my job and starting my own business. His name is Dakota, which translates to “Friend of All”. So my company name is in homage to him.
Have you always been passionate about design?
Definitely, I studied textile design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. The basic design principles learned in the entry classes are bouncing around in my head constantly, especially color theory.
Why did you start working in this particular craft?
About two years ago. I have sketchbooks full of designs I sketch for textile ideas. After looking at them for a long time I started to wonder what they would look like applied to a 3D medium. So I learned basic stained glass processes and started messing around. Somehow that morphed into light fixtures!
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
My mother is an interior designer, so I grew up in beautiful, colorful and crazy homes. I know how one small special piece can change the entire atmosphere of a room. That is what I hope to create for the folks buying my stuff. I try to envision how each lamp I make will create a special place in someone’s home. With that being said, I know that traditional stained glass looks amazing when illuminated, but once the light is gone, the piece is dark and somewhat cold feeling. I try to incorporate glass that looks good when it is both lit and unlit in all of my designs.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
Oh man, so many! Mainly I try to remind myself to stop working when I am too tired. My process is a long and time consuming one, so its extremely frustrating when I make a mistake that takes twice as long to fix. Also, the majority of the glass I use is one of a kind, so if I break it I really am at a loss.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
I would say I sacrificed the security of a receiving a regular paycheck, but I gained so much more in being happy everyday. I definitely feel the most productive and useful when I am working with my hands.
What has been your favorite moment since creating your business?
Over Memorial Day weekend I installed some of my largest pieces in a gallery show in Philly. There were three other artists involved, and the collaboration came together so beautifully. I was (am) totally exhausted from all the work that went into it, but so proud of the outcome!
How does the city you live in influence your work?
New York is a difficult place to start a small business for so many reasons. The overhead is pretty ridiculous, but the network of helpful and willing people surrounding you is priceless. I have a strong support system here from my 8 years of working in various industries, my SCAD alumni network, and now a new group of makers I have been meeting through RCF shows!
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
I have a few good friends who have been running their own businesses here in New York for nearly ten years, [and they] have been very generous with their advice for me. Also, growing up in a household where both parents were entrepreneurs put the idea in my head as a possibility at an early age.
The yearning has been there for a long time. Then one day, I was listening to a podcast on my way to work (I cant remember which one) where a man said “Does your lifestyle match your values? If not, make the necessary changes”. That question really floored me. I wrote it down and decided to meditate on it later. Once I did, I couldn’t quit thinking about it. Somehow I had ended up with a “safe” lifestyle that left me too exhausted to do the things that were truly important to me. It took about a year for me to get all my ducks in a row and quit my job, but I am so happy with my decision to do so!
What are some inspirations for your work?
I find inspiration everywhere. From other people’s art, to ironwork around NYC, in parks, old books, conversations with friends, and a lot comes from sketches in old notebooks.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
I guess I would pass along some advice given to me by my step-father, who is also an artist and maker. He said “If you really want to get good at something, just do it everyday, all the time. There’s no way you can do something every single day and not get better at it.”