Julie Conway with her Sound Credit Union Installation

Small Business Spotlight: Guided Through Glassy Eyes

There seems to never be a break in creativity for Julie Conway, founder of Illuminata Art Glass Design in Seattle. Conway has accomplished another successful year of delivering incredible works of art in homes, museums, as well as other local businesses. This award-winning light installation artist has built a reputation that keeps her busy. From working with her team throughout hotshop furnaces in Seattle, to managing her 501(c)(3) nonprofit, BioGlass, and travelling across client buildings and homes.

Julie Conway of Illuminata Glass and her Sound CU Project Team
Julie and her team working on their latest Sound Credit Union project

A Name in The Industry

Julie continues to build her name among the greats of Pacific Northwest glassblowing. Historically a male-dominated field, with the likes of local Dale Chihuly and Benjamin Moore. (City Arts Magazine)

With over 20 years of experience in the glassblowing industry, she’s no stranger to working like fire. Julie is driven by her mantra as she told The Seattle Times, “I love making glass… I want to transform space with it. I want to light up people’s places, make an experiential moment, stop people in their tracks for a second. I’m not only enjoying the glassmaking process, I’m also doing the light: how it changes the experience.”

Julie’s passion for glassmaking is demonstrated in the multi-faceted approaches she has taken to the industry. The name “Illuminata” stems from the Italian Renaissance group of thinkers and artists who brought enlightenment to the public. Julie Conway is truly a ‘Renaissance Woman’. She has many talents rooted in her passion across lighting, objects, jewelry, textiles, e-commerce, exhibitions, and education just for example.

Julie Conway Display in Sound Credit UnionThe Art of Business

Beyond artistry, Conway had to consider the business aspect of Illuminata. Julie took a big step in 2019 towards growing her business and launched her LUMI Design Collection, the first ready-made collection sold by Illuminata Art Glass Design Studio. With this new approach in commerce, and the hope to expand into textiles and furnishings, Julie knew she needed support in certain areas to grow her business, especially, “operations manuals, cost projections, all these things [that] art school never mentioned.” she noted. With the support Julie found in the dedicated mentorship, expert guidance, and support in Grow and Thrive, she has since been able to offer her ready-made products online.

A proud graduate of the intensive mentorship program offered by Business Impact NW, Julie cited the program as, “[Being] an incredible inspiration, [the] presentation of materials was so abundant.”

In addition to all her incredible work is her custom glass lighting installation in the recently renovated Redmond branch of Sound Credit Union. The shimmering display was a part of the opening of the Redmond branch on December 7th, 2020. In short, Julie cited the moment as, “a wonderful opportunity to have my work shown daily in a business setting, outside of a gallery.

Learn More and Support Illuminata Art Glasss Design Studio by visiting their website here.

Ready to take your established business to the next level? Join our Grow & Thrive Program here.

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About the author

Osmir "Oz" Diaz is the Communications Coordinator at Business Impact NW.
Prior to this role, Oz served as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the Technology Access Foundation.

Oz holds a diverse skillset she applies to social justice work and to her passion for amplifying communities online and offline.

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