SpringBoard Series: Sandy Gross, Brazee Street Studios
Sandy Gross is the founder of Brazee Street Studios in Oakley, a LEED-certified home for art studios, galleries and related retail. SpringBoard is ArtWorks business development program that targets artisans and creative entrepreneurs.
You studied art before you became a business owner. What’s your medium?
Looking at my resume, you might say I don’t have a business background, but my parents had their own businesses, so I definitely grew up in that environment. I have a sculpture background, but I do a lot of work, especially production work and more permanent installation with glass.
How did you make the transition?
I was teaching a lot in my basement after graduate school, and I loved it. I had a kiln and a torch there, and I’d teach people what I knew. I was also teaching at Miami University
, and the glass company I work with, Bullseye Glass
, wondered what I was doing with all the glass they delivered to my house. I told them I was teaching, so they asked me to come to Portland, OR, to take a teacher’s training workshop. They asked me if I’d consider opening a larger facility to teach; they have several centers with certified instructors around the country where you go and learn to work with glass.
How did you start your business?
My husband and I found our current building after it had been on the market for a year. I was shocked that it was available because it was old, but it had great bones. It has a great warehouse/factory feel to it.
Leah Busch, our creative director and gallery coordinator, and I had worked for years together, and I asked if she’d move back to Cincinnati to start this with me. She did, and we started teaching just beginning fusing. Because I have an early childhood education background, we started teaching children. That’s unusual because glass is usually perceived as somewhat dangerous, but kids love it.
We renovated the building in parts, rented the space to artists and opened four years ago this December.
How did you become involved with Springboard?
I love drawing connections between things and people. Leah and I were being asked every week if we knew people who worked with metal or wood or other materials. I decided to do a website, like an Angie’s List
for artists. We didn’t have as much background with the business end of things, so Leah went and did the SpringBoard
classes and part of what came out of that was developing a website, C|LINK
What’s next for Brazee and C|LINK?
We hope this new website becomes a resource for everyone in Cincinnati to find access to high-quality, creative artists. I’ve been so impressed with the quality and level of craft in the city right now. It’s amazing—very impressive.
What inspires you?
Art by nature is a bit selfish. I have my own studio practice and a sketchbook, but I love sharing that with others. I love watching people be transformed by art and be exposed to high-quality, beautiful things. That’s more important in my mission as a human than necessarily just being by myself in studio.
Interview by Robin Donovan