Tarah: Welcome to Inside Leduc. My name is Tarah Flynn, and I will be your host today. My intent of this podcast is to create a platform for businesses in the Leduc region to promote themselves. We not only learn about the products and services being offered, but also about who we are supporting when we shop local. Let’s venture past the front door and get to know the passion behind these businesses. With this knowledge, we will undoubtedly want to support their dreams, and maybe start one of our own. I would like to preface that I want to learn about our guest as you do. Welcome to the podcast. Welcome Chandell, the owner of under the sun located at 49 50th Avenue here in town. Tell me a little bit about your business. What is it that you do?
Chandell: Well, we are a very diverse business, we have many different platforms. [01:02] “We actually are the first studio of its kind in all of Canada for a number of reasons. One, we’re an accredited and non accredited education facilities. I did write an LDC programming for overt education in glass art.” We teach stained glass, kiln, glass casting, torch, lampworking and glassblowing here at our facility. I start working with kids as young as five. My oldest student today has almost been 100. We’ll be celebrating his other birthday here shortly. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have him back in studio in the near future. We do manufacturing and education from things as small as what we sell for $15 into the hundreds of 1000s of dollars. From backsplashes, countertops, tiles, dishes, sculpture, yard arch, windows, doors, if you can imagine it, we would love to design it and make it for you.
Tarah: Wow. Tell me a little bit about the process of getting into this the education was that quite a process? Was that always something that you were wanting to do is get into the education part?
Chandell: I’ve been involved in education for many, many years. I’ve been involved in glass production for over 40. But my previous hat to now living my dream was in healthcare. I was a educator in health care did a lot of education worldwide in third world countries, and in education and medicine. An education platform has been, you know, quite person parcel to part of my being well beyond the studio here.
Tarah: Oh, that’s crazy. To be fair, I’ve heard lots of different people try to get into the education system. It’s quite the process, I was told.
Chandell: I was really kind of invited into it, just as world renowned connect, presenter and with the glass arts, society and community. Just with the number of things that I’ve done in humanitarian missions throughout the world, in education, and medicine. I was blessed to be part of the Belize literacy project for over 10 years, and working with Alberta teachers to build education in third world, countries around the world. There’s a lot of our Alberta education that many people probably don’t even realize, are all over the world. [03:37] “Many textbooks that have been used here in the past that you think might go to landfills we actually package them up and ship them around worldwide into developing countries and our Alberta teachers work with those teachers that are up and coming in those developing countries.” I was involved in that far beyond the ask to develop a glass art portion curriculum.
Tarah: Oh, nice. So then how did that evolve into glass work? How did that evolve for you?
Chandell: Well, I started when I was very young, my grandma did stained glass and my two favorite places on the farm was either in her classroom or finding treats behind her pantry door. She really was a big inspiration into what I do now. Had she never exposed me to stained glass and that portion of the glass art world, this studio would not be here today.
Tarah: Awesome. What kind of stuff did you do with your grandma? Like was it still in the same?
Chandell: Well, it was very small scale compared to what we do here now. I was quite young. As she was sculpting out glass pieces, I was the assistant I was the the grinder girl or the wash girl or the fitting girl or, the sweeping up or vacuuming girl, those types of things, how we started long. Then as I got older, she would entrust me into a few other things along the way. Eventually, I worked in health care for almost 30 years. But my glass passion grew considerably throughout that whole time. I studied at the Bates and Eddie glass Academy in Bronto, Italy. My hot experience was really born and bred, from Italian glassmakers that I am able to bring here to Leduc Alberta.
Tarah: That’s crazy. That’s so awesome. You said that you’d like went and taught and er places and you did that education stuff. Did you go to Italy to be a student? Or to help educate? Are you just kind of a mix of both?
Chandell: I was in Italy as a student, so very much in the student aspect.
Tarah: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s so cool. I didn’t realize that it was such a worldwide thing, like as a small little town of Leduc, you just think it’s, you know. But that’s so awesome that it’s such a worldwide and that there’s like classes for that in Italy. That’s crazy. What is the vision now moving forward with your business, given all your education and where you are?
Chandell: Well, you know, I really want people to come experience glass in a whole new way. [06:23] “Part of our branding and our you know, business name is because things are absolutely endless. You can create anything under the sun, once you know the chemistry and the science behind it all. Our whole mission and vision and values is really to come in as strangers and leave his friends and learn a whole bunch of wonderful things about glass and enjoy glass in a whole new way.” Whether you’re patrons or you want to learn the craft and the trade of it all as well.
Tarah: When you have like the students that come in, they field trip to you, or do you have space there? Or how does that work with the school system?
Chandell: Well, it has been kind of turbulent times in this last little bit, but we love it when schools can come here as a field trip. We can do so much more with the kids than we can actually do going to a school. Because nothing light is in glass, you know, equipment 800 to a ton. It requires a lot of different specialized tools and equipment in order to manufacture and design and build a lot of things. There’s a lot of math and chemistry behind working with glass, it’s one of the most exciting and challenging materials to work with. When we can have kids in the studio here, we talk about, you know, how a glass is made and the science behind it and build in the different components and have the big glass furnace roaring behind me in which you know, we have liquid glass out there.
Then just take them through a few different other components, then they get a really hands on experience that’s very diverse, in not only stained glass, but kiln glass formation, torch lampworking and glassblowing. They really get to it. I like them to sit in the maestro seat and be a glassblower for a day if we can. Then instead of doing individual projects, I love the class to work together on an art installation piece. One, it’s cost effective and it becomes a legacy piece and a beautiful piece of artwork that we gift them to the schools. The kids all work on it together. It’s a really fun engaging and interactive day. I look forward to field trips coming back and having all that energy back in the studio.
Tarah: Oh I bet yeah, for sure. You’re in a great location for that as well because there’s a lot of schools that are walking distance. I know a big thing with field trips is buses. One, they can come back obviously. But like buses and you’re really located really well for majority of the schools on this side of town to walk. It’s only going to be as we grow West at that they might have to bring in buses as well. That’s a good place.
Chandell: Well, location was key, of course, you know finding a spot to house an active volcano was not an easy feat, but location was key. I’m fortunate enough that I grew up in Leduc County and this area has been my home as a child and you know 49 years strong now type of thing. But Leduc is very central. We are close to the airport. [09:55] “I have students come from all over the world to study and learn here. We have partnerships with hotels, just to make things really accessible and easy for people to get here, whether you’re in kind of an 80 kilometer area, that’s easy, commutable or not, and to remove some of the barriers to that, and be accessible.” We’re really right smack in the middle of the province, which is pretty cool.
Tarah: Yeah. The things you don’t think about when you’re looking at a storefront that they’ve bundled up with hotels to do projects and things like that. It’s definitely something that you never think about, or you never thought would be something that would happen. That’s really awesome and well planned out. Tell me a little bit about this planning process, when you knew that you wanted to start this business? So you have a lot of planning going on?
Chandell: It was probably well into 10 or 15 years in the making, thinking about how could I do this. I already always knew that when I retired from health care, this would be my next chapter. Thank you, and welcome to my next chapter. But great art is one thing, but it’s also important to have a great business and how to support, everybody’s heard about the starving artists, and stuff like that. How do you create a platform and bring a not well known art form out into a community and invest it. Working on a business case, I worked on that for year. But you really don’t know what you don’t know until you’re in it and you grow.
Even though I did as much forecasting and planning and risk management strategy, because I do have a master’s in project management as well, I’ve three actual degrees. Many that I’m not really applying these days in my next chapter, but have definitely helped me get from there to here. But having that business case and working on it, and really thinking about the how to. How to make and looking at it from a realistic lens, and to having faith in yourself. [12:09] “Everything in life is a risk, doesn’t matter what you do. But there are some things that you can mitigate not being rash, and making knee jerk reactions, looking at cause and effect, and putting it out there.”
Listening to people the feedback, there’s a lot of things that I didn’t even think about, and that’s our little mini workshops, ladies night date night, those are things I didn’t even think about. I didn’t think people would be interested in little mini education components, because I’ve always been about, big trade, you know, the big back end, all that kind of stuff. Of course, we offer that. But all the little mini glass experiences for people as well. We really kind of expanded in that realm. Listening to people, what do you want? How can we be a service? How can we help you enjoy what we’re doing here? We have a big area in the studio, three different diverse area. Areas for members, areas for students, areas for patrons to be exploring the gallery, our manufacturing zone, our raw materials. We can have a private space for birthday parties, even while classes are going on. Just having many different diverse things going on was important in that business plan way back when.
Tarah: Yeah, well, that’s one thing I love about small business is that it’s easier to pivot because there’s not a big group of people that you have to talk to about creating these things. You can move and ebb and flow to what your clients or customers are looking for. I really admire that and love that about small businesses that that’s a possibility. I do know that we were looking for Christmas presents, my daughter was like all over the birthday party thing. I think for a family, we’re definitely going to be jumping into that because she still talks about it. What is your favorite thing about running your business?
Chandell: My favorite thing is probably all the people that I meet every day. The people that I get to work with and teach and friendships that are born out of that. It’s pretty priceless actually.
Tarah: That’s awesome. If you could do anything different, what would it be with all your degrees?
Chandell: Well, hindsight is always 2020. I’d have to say irregardless to the current state of affairs that the world is in, I wouldn’t change anything for Harvey, we just keep going.
Tarah: That’s awesome. That’s good to hear. You said you’re born and raised in Leduc. Did you ever think about doing this anywhere outside of Leduc?
Chandell: I did actually. My first studio was on my personal property. I probably put a about 108 students through my studio there, but to have high school students come and earn credits towards their high school diploma, they can actually earn 40 out of their 100 credits right here, learning glass art. That would not be possible in a private location on a private property in my studio. It always was the plan to expand into a commercial space, so that I could really reach and connect with kids early on in life, to get to where we are here today.
Tarah: So you started with the education and then moved into the commercial sphere versus commercial and then branched out and thought I could go into students like you actually started with, I’m going to be a teacher, and help bring this world into education?
Chandell: Well, I had my private studio, I had to become a sole proprietor, I think it was about 2014, my Commission’s were so large, I had to get legit. I established under the sun as a sole proprietorship, did markets and just custom installations for people around the world. Then I had some ladies actually asked me at a market, if I would teach them what I was doing. I was like, well, you know, I probably could let me explore how I could do that most effective for you in my current studio.
My current studio really had taken over my garage at that time. I expanded and built a side building on my property, and just kind of went from there. It just so slowly grew. [16:52] “The demand was there that people were reaching out to me from Prince Edward Island and New Zealand all over the place. I was like, wow, you know, this is really cool. I love knowledge translation, I love to share. Let’s just work with this.” I really teach from applied best science practice, and try to set everybody up for success. I have many beginners doing pieces that probably people who would consider them not to brag, but people that would consider themselves 10 or 15 years into as an advanced artists. They’re well beyond. I’m really proud of all of my students and what they’re doing. I have students that haven’t even been doing glass art for a year, and they’re selling in studio as if, they were 30 years in the making. It’s just pretty remarkable.
Tarah: I think a lot of that has to do with that language, you just use you said knowledge transfer.
Tarah: Translation. Like [18:04] “it’s not teaching for you. It’s how you translate what you know, to them, like, I think just within that language, that I think that’s where you’re getting a lot of your success. I think that’s a beautiful terminology, knowledge transfer.” Like, I’m gonna take that because I think just just in how you phrase that, versus I’m teaching someone, like I’m transferring knowledge.
Chandell: There’s book smarts, and then there’s applied practice, you can read as much as you can and gravitate that kind of thing. But you’re really working with hands on components. You’re building chemistries together. You’re doing applied heat, and a number of things affect what you’re doing, especially in the hot world, depending on where you are in relation to elevation levels, just like boiling points of water, those types of things. Magnetic pole and elevation, really play a part in a lot of what we do. There’s a lot of back-end things that need to be shared. There’s nothing worse than doing a hot piece and you’ve invested all kinds of time and material costs into it, and it’s broken. It doesn’t go anywhere. That still from time to time happens for me it’s part of the challenge. I’m very fortunate that it’s quite rare these days. But one of the biggest challenges with working with glass it’s the boss let’s put it that way.
Tarah: Yeah. Magnetic pole really? Like where we are in regards to on the earth matters?
Chandell: Yeah. We are working with different temperatures. Depends on what you’re doing in cold art no. But in and warm and hot work yes. [19:51] “If you’re raking metals and stuff like that through a slab that’s 2200 degrees, it’s really important to know and to be conscientious of the different things that are going and how things are going to move. Physics plays a huge part in some of the things that we do.”
Tarah: That’s so cool. I had no idea that even like magnetic, like, that’s crazy. Wow. Did you receive a lot of pushbacks when you said you were going to start this and do this business?
Chandell: You know, there was probably more people that’s said, I don’t know, you should just save your savings. You have a good career, you have a good pension coming your way. I even had in shopping around at a bank, I don’t know if I should say which bank that might not be nice. But it was a gentleman. It was an older gentleman. He asked me where my husband was. I was doing this by myself without a partner even went as far to say to me, well, who’s going to do the cooking and cleaning and I said, I’m pretty sure this conversations over. It was a very interesting first time in my life that I actually saw, as a woman being treated differently than a male, I actually can honestly say, I’ve never experienced that in my healthcare career, the diverse shift.
But working with trades, individuals really didn’t receive a lot of credibility as a female in the industry. But I’m glad that I showed them. I took over a lot of the trade industry work because one, they didn’t work fast enough and didn’t have a proficient enough skill set. Or, the craftsmanship was, right. Not really where the standard that I like to set.
Tarah: Oh, that’s awesome. Just persevering? How else did you overcome those push backs?
Chandell: It would be a lie to say there was some times that I thought there’s a reason why women in business in art, don’t do this. Wouldn’t be honest, if I didn’t say that there were some times that I thought, I don’t think I can get this done or pull it off. But then I just did a little self talk. I thought, look, you’ve got this just stay the course. There’s a lot of other things that are lining up in your favor. There’s nothing better than proving everybody wrong,
Tarah: [22:28] “Yes, the power of a vision, if you see it, you can achieve it.” You’ve been doing this, you said since what 2004 you mentioned?
Chandell: I started when I was eight years old. I’m now 49. But my business was formalized in 2014 as a sole proprietorship. Then I incorporated in March of 2019, as part and parcel for coming into this commercial location.
Tarah: What has kept you doing this for so long? Is it just a Passion Driven? Or is the fact that you can mold and it moves?
Chandell: I love to create beautiful things. It’s a multi-level type of thing. I enjoy working with people, interacting with people. I love celebrating the things that they do and achieve. I like to kind of push the boundaries. I’ve always been that way even from a kid of what I could do and build and design. It’s a challenge. I love a challenge. I love working with people. It’s a great partnership.
Tarah: Well, there’s nothing like going to bed at the end of the night, knowing that there has been something accomplished, or you’ve got to watch someone accomplish. Keeps you motivated, for sure. Was there any event that has been influential in like, the most influential moment in creating this or sustaining this vision for yourself?
Chandell: Well, it’s been really interesting times since I opened up, I don’t actually qualify for a lot of the government support as a new business, because I opened in September of 2019. If they really just works on revenue numbers, from one month to another month. Just kind of keep going, regardless of what isn’t there. I think many businesses, if you’re not five years in, there’s really not much there for you, in the current times of the closures that we’ve had to endure. That being said, [24:39] “members of the studio here really kept me going. Their stories of how coming here learning this, save them, recover them from depression and anxiety. Them sharing their stories, was a driver and how they’re looking forward to coming back. Kids that we had in our youth program, parents saying, you know, this was the highlight of their life. I’ve never saw my child so happy at the time. Kids that have been here before stopped at the lights waving or holding up signs saying that I can’t wait to come back. Little things like that, that are very heartfelt. Also, Christmas morning. The people that have supported me locally as an artist, and I thought Christmas morning, wow, all the people opening gifts that I made is really special.”
Tarah: Yeah, ah, well, I do have to say it was loved in our house, it was bragged and shown on camera. It was emotional. There’s so much power behind that. I never really thought about crafts in that way. I’m a linear thinker. This is a new thing for me personally, but I can definitely see that attachment to that moment for someone else, for yourself. I can absolutely feel that for you, that Christmas morning moment. Yeah, there was a lot of people who shop local.
Chandell: Yeah, it was a huge blessing. I can’t thank the community enough.
Tarah: Yeah, well, we had a really good push for shop local. We were shopping local ourselves, I could definitely feel that our community grew and that we were proud supporters for that. It made me very proud to call this place home that we took that call and that we utilized it. What would you like to see for the future of your business?
Chandell: Well, restrictions being lifted, and people being able to come back into the studio and enjoy the space that I designed and built for them really. It’s great to have a studio this large to work in for myself or from the manufacturing end of things. But it’s really not what I made this place for. Manufacturing is important. But I really built this for the love of glass and for being able to share the joy of glass with others.
Tarah: Yes, absolutely. For sure. I can’t wait to start doing one of those date nights. I think that that would be pretty awesome too. I could venture out and do those date nights. I think that that’s going to be pretty darn awesome. What are you working on now?
Chandell: Some commissioned pieces. They’re top secret. I don’t know if I should share them because one is a gift for 60-year wedding anniversary. Very sweet. He came in specifically with the vision in mind. Then another is for a housewarming for a man cave. Then a lot of our own manufacturing. Because our gallery is pretty thin after the Christmas shopping season. Got to create some really cool new things.
Tarah: Nice. When you create for the gallery do you try to have so many pieces of each thing? How does that work for you with what you create in your gallery?
Chandell: Well, I just make things that I like. Should be some science behind it. But you know, there always some fan favorites that I’ve discovered that are kind of in demand and that sort of thing. We do put them in the production queue. But I’m always trying to come up with some new patterns and styles. I really just make things that I like and that I would like my own face. Then I hope other people will enjoy. I just been very blessed in the fact that other people are liking when I like.
Tarah: That’s awesome. Yeah, well, I have to say, we enjoyed it. My kids really thoroughly enjoyed coming there. The fact that they got to be excited not just for shopping but for new experience for themselves and their birthday parties, doing different things. It definitely makes it more than a storefront. It’s not something that you see when you drive by. You see all the glass stuff. I don’t know all the glass windows. You don’t really think until you go in there of all the possibilities that you’re creating for our community and making it one of a kind for us here.
Definitely a proud little gem that you have for us here. Thank you and that’s fantastic. I’d like to end my podcast with a little bit of charity. When I created this podcast, I wanted to make sure that I’m giving back and is there a charity that’s close to your heart that we can support with this podcast?
Chandell: Oh, there’s so many out there. Wow. Probably one of the things I miss the most is not having the capacity to be a Rotarian any longer. But I do consider myself still Rotarian, even though I don’t have the capacity to participate on an active platform. The Nisku Leduc Rotary Club gives so much back to the community, hundreds of 1000s, from the Food Bank to kids programs to music and entertainment, to was part of the Belize literacy project and the humanitarian work that I did for many, many years. I think that would be my charity of choices, the Nisku Leduc Rotary Club.
Tarah: Perfect for then consider it done. Awesome. Thank you very much. Thank you so much for your time with us today. I can’t wait to see your growth and the prosperity that’s going to come once we’re able to have all those classes and all those events that you’ve created for our community. I really hope that this platform is something that can help inspire our community to come and visit you. Thank you so very much for your time with us today. Anything in conclusion?
Chandell: Well, thank you very much for having me. It’s truly an honor to be part of this community.