It’s a windy, chilly October morning outside, but here in the Cedar + Pearl workshop the air is warm with the hum of our laser printers and the light banter of nine women working together on our handmade production line.
What began in a small art studio above her garage as a small hobby business and creative outlet to fill our founder, Stephanie’s, free time has grown into a full time business, shipping over 25,000 ornaments around the country in 2022. Though the scale and mechanics of Cedar + Pearl’s production have grown and changed, each and every ornament is still painted, glued, tagged, and boxed by hand with the same careful attention to design and detail that our customers have come to know and love.
It was another October day, nearly five years ago, when Cedar + Pearl began its transformation into the thriving business it is today. On October 25, 2018, after leaving her career as a molecular motor biochemist/biophysicist, Stephanie pivoted her life and launched her hobby into a full time endeavor, fully immersing herself in the exciting world of small business ownership. She added more storefront accounts, increased her craft show schedule, and bolstered her online presence. She took a leap of faith and filled out a Yellowstone National Park gift shop contact form, which resulted in her biggest account, supplying thousands of ornaments to three National Parks. She was thrilled to see her hobby turn into something so much more, and watched with excitement as her business grew and grew and grew.
But, as businesses and to-do lists grow, free time and family time often shrink. Stephanie spent every spare minute painting, working late into the night and even while on family vacations. Her diligence was paying off, with new orders and accounts arriving in her email inbox regularly. After three particularly large orders for the National Parks came in rapid succession, Stephanie realized she could really use an extra set of hands. She hired her first assistant in July of 2021, and by September of that same year she had three employees. Cedar + Pearl had long since outgrown the little art studio over her garage, so the business was moved to an 800 sq.ft. workshop on the garden level of The Shirt Factory building in Glens Falls. The new studio allowed the purchase of three Boss Laser machines, enabling us to keep production of the ornaments in-house from start to finish.
When Stephanie started painting ornaments as a hobby all of those years ago, she never dreamed that her creative outlet would grow into a thriving small business that employs ten women in part time positions. Today, Stephanie still hand paints all of the glass ornaments in the art studio above her garage. Our main workshop in The Shirt Factory is our production facility for all of our wooden ornaments, hand made by our small but mighty team. It also houses a small retail space that is open during our workshop hours and also for Open Houses events held on weekends throughout the holiday season. This month, in anticipation of our busiest holiday season yet, we added a 200 sq. ft. studio in The Shirt Factory to house our shipping department. Our accounts have grown from a collection of gift shops in the Adirondacks to storefronts across the United States, including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Each account is important to us and we continue to add new designs to our collections to keep our product line fresh.
As the business continues to grow, those of us who work at Cedar + Pearl have grown into a little family of sorts. We talk about our families, share pictures of our pets, and our laughter often spills out our door and into the hallway, causing passersby to poke their heads in to see what is happening in our cheerful workshop. We work hard and we have a lot of fun, but the fast paced days filling large orders are the most exciting. And though we fulfill many orders numbering in the thousands, we still take the time to create special orders to memorialize remarkable first camping trips, weddings and engagements, and other special moments in life. We are often covered in glitter, paint, and glue, and we eat far too many sweets with donuts and cookies being among our favorites. We are a Christmas ornament workshop, after all.