Studio upgrades business for stained glass artist

 | October 13, 2020
Marlie Marchewka at a market. Photo supplied

An artistic Sun Peaks duo, who have made a name for themselves with unique stained glass creations, have leveled over the summer. 

In 2017 the couple started attending Market Days in Sun Peaks and have since expanded in both the number of markets they attend and their products. 

Marlie Marchewka, one half of Designs by M&J with her partner Joey Riegler, said despite the impact of COVID-19 on the summer market scene they have had a strong season and are still working on big plans. 

The provincial announcement that artisan stalls would be allowed at farmers’ markets came last minute, making Marchewka work hard to ensure they had enough products to attend. 

“It ended up working out great, I made enough items that I thought could get me through the markets without overstocking myself if something were to happen. I had to dance this thin line to balance it.” 

The pieces are now also being sold in Kamloops at Far & Wide, a downton retail store featuring local and handmade products, in Sun Peaks at Alpine Images and are soon to be sold in other stores in B.C. and Ontario. 

As the business grows the couple have had to make more space to create. Last fall they purchased a home in Whitecroft and began renovations; one of the focuses this summer was creating a dedicated studio space. 

“A year ago I was working out of a small two bedroom basement suite. When I first started glass I was working out of a kitchen, not knowing that this whole moment would snowball into what it did. Then I graduated to our spare bedroom…I could never ever imagine that we would have our own space to solely dedicate to glass.”

Marchewka said the space is a huge milestone. 

“I love coming into work everyday, I love my studio…it’s beautiful. I get a lot of natural light in here which is so great, it’s incredibly inspiring.” 

She said the move to Whitecroft has surprised her by giving her new inspiration, especially now experiencing four distinct seasons more so than she did living on the mountain. 

After starting out making icicles and mountains, she’s expanded to bears, which she said have become very popular, as well as maple leaves and moon phases. 

“I just love making pieces not just to make pieces and throw them together. I plan everything out from start to finish, how the glass is positioned, what stones I’m going to incorporate…I also just like designing pretty pieces, things that I’d like to hang in my home and things that I’m inspired by. It’s cool that other people appreciate them as much as I do.” 

Looking ahead, work is underway on a website which will allow them to sell pieces online. 

“This year has been such a pivotal moment for us personally and the business. It’s been nothing but awesome but scary too. All of this is off the back of the renovation of our studio, without the new studio I don’t think we’d be here where we are right now.” 

Currently they plan to launch the site this fall before attending a local Christmas market. 

They’re also looking at ways to grow and improve the pieces they make. Marchewka said she has a long list of new items to create and they plan to incorporate more woodworking again once they can build a workshop.

“It’s going to be exciting to see once we start our website what’s going to happen. I think it’s more important now than ever for people to be inspired and to create.”

Designs by M&J can be found on Instagram at @designs.m.j and Facebook at Designs by M&J