Klarna and Etsy are leading marketplaces committed to driving product discovery and connecting consumers with designers and items that range from everyday necessities to one-of-a-kind, swoon-worthy finds. So it makes sense that the e-commerce innovators would team up to celebrate the creators who enhance our lives functionally and aesthetically.
This July, shoppers had an opportunity to cast their votes for their favorite finalist, who received a $5,000 cash prize, in the first-ever Klarna People’s Pick Award as part of the Etsy Design Awards (also known as The Etsies).
And the winner is…Noor Springael of GLASenGLAS.
We had a chance to catch up with the glazier who creates contemporary 2D glass in Oud-Turnhout, Belgium. All of Springael’s items are made to order. To date, GLASenGLAS has generated more than 2,000 sales through Etsy and boasts a five-star rating as well as rave reviews from customers who appreciate her “stunning” work.
Can you share a bit about your background and how you got into art and the world of design, and, more specifically, working with glass?
I rolled into the craft of glass art completely by chance. After a year of studying biomedical sciences in Ghent, Belgium, I realized that I had to go in a totally different direction, and I ventured down a more artistic route.
I took a theoretical entrance exam for the restoration course at the art academy in Antwerp and ended up in front of a jury panel. What kind of restoration I was going to do, I had no idea yet. Until someone from the panel suggested: “Ah, you’re from Mol, then you’re definitely going to start in the direction of glass?” (Glaverbel in Mol was one of the largest glass companies in Belgium at the time.) I agreed and that was that: Four years later I received my Masters in Conservation / Restoration of stained glass.
Are there any particular challenges to creating in this medium?
Glass is a labor-intensive material, but there’s no other medium that interacts with light the way colored glass does, so it’s worth it!
What inspires you as an artist?
I have works that have a tight, geometric approach and artworks with a flowery, more curly side. I like to see them both. Reusing glass from old windows, doors and domes is one of my hobby-horses, and I process as much as possible of the glass remnants after making a stained-glass window.
Can you tell us about your journey with Etsy? And can you offer any advice to others who hope to grow their business through the online marketplace?
I signed up for Etsy back in 2009 because the idea of selling worldwide was appealing to me. I got some sales, but never really took off. Only five years ago after visiting my brother in Arizona, and designing a small collection of recycled glass plants, it started to boom. So I can only say: Keep going! In my opinion being successful on Etsy is 90% hard work and 10% luck.
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created and, if so, can you share the story behind it?
I create a lot of custom pieces and I love to be a small part of a story. Recently, I was asked to create a couple of wildflower wreaths as birth presents and I love them.
How did it feel to find out you’d been selected for the Klarna People’s Pick Award?
I think it’s the best prize to win! I’m always working on my own and the fact that I got so many likes made me feel appreciated and convinced me that I’m on the right track.
How will you use the prize money?
After staying home for two years, part of the money will definitely be used for traveling. Traveling is what inspires me the most to make new designs.
Do you have a favorite artist or shop that you admire or support on Etsy?
WolfJewels, owned by my friend Tamara. I used to make glass jewelry myself, but since I stopped, almost all my jewelry comes from her shop. I just love her minimal, everyday designs.
If you could go back and offer yourself any advice when you were starting out, what would it be?
Focus on what you’re good at and take a photography class!