May 6, 2010

From Cancer to Candles

Posted: 06:11 PM ET

By Quinn Brown
LKL Senior Producer

“The light of a candle coming through a glassybaby generates more; it gives warmth to a cold day, a calm token of peace in the busy world.”

The words of a savvy PR writer about a brand of candle-holder? No on both counts. Glassybaby is more than just a decorative piece. It rose out of a life and death struggle. The resiliency and toughness of the product matches that of its creator and founder, Lee Rhodes. That description was written by her twelve year-old son Hector.

“It is magical to think this jaded 12 year old would say that. I never heard him say a word about glassy until that moment. When I got [that note]…it was so real.”

Rhodes, a Seattle resident, is a three-time lung cancer survivor. During her third bout with the illness- raising three children all the while- she needed light. Hope. A sense of calm. As a stress reliever, she bought her husband glass-blowing lessons. Nine years later– from her working out of her garage to a bi-coastal operation, from giving away the votives at Huskie games to 2.5 million dollars in sales per year, from asking friends to volunteer for free to partnering with Jeff Bezos (’s CEO is an investor) and Martha Stewart – glassybaby is big business.

“When you light them they take you to a place that's OK. When your life and house is a mess, they put you in a frame of mind to capture wellness.”

Rhodes has not forgotten the initial inspiration for glassybaby. From day one, in the garage, the company has given back. “We [have raised] $70,000 for cancer care. We took 10% off top... right from the beginning. I poured money into without making a cent for 3 years. I feel like people are following this little company that is actually doing what it says it does. We're accountable to ourselves...that’s what keeps people coming back.,” she says. The company, with stores in Seattle, Bellevue and New York, has extended its goodwill to other causes such as Conservation International, University of Washington School of Nursing, amfAR AIDS research, and the Seattle Humane Society.

So on this mother’s day, you can get a gift for mom while giving back. ‘Glassybaby will encourage her to take that 30 seconds to light that glassy and find the calm, peace and joy in life.”

Filed under: LKL Web Exclusive • Mother's Day

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