Published November 20, 2007
Glass maker crafts bead nicheRolf Boone
Double Helix Glassworks, a maker of colored glass for the worldwide bead industry, could more than triple sales in its second year of business.The glass manufacturer, owned by Jed and Julie Hannay of Olympia, expects about $350,000 in sales this year, up from the $100,000 the couple said it earned last year.Most of Double Helix's sales come via the company Web site, Jed Hannay said.Two years ago, the Hannays were making glass in a garage and selling it to their customers via e-Bay, the online auction Web site.Today, the business has grown to occupy more than 3,000 square feet in a warehouse in Tumwater's Mottman Industrial Park.Double Helix has grown by making a glass product that offers more color variation than the standard mass-produced glass for the bead industry, Hannay said. The company offers two main products: colored glass rods, which are used by hobbyists and professional bead makers to melt into beads, and a glass product known as frit. Frit is glass in granular form that bead makers apply to the bead's surface, enhancing its design, Hannay said. "It creates a speckled effect that they like," he said.Double Helix sells its rods by the pound, while frit is sold in two-ounce packages, Hannay said.Before launching Double Helix, Hannay studied the bead and glass industries.Hannay used to fill orders at Shipwreck Beads, now in Hawks Prairie, and later worked for Frantz Art Glass at the Port of Shelton in Mason County. Frantz Art Glass sells glass, including Double Helix glass, and glass supplies for the bead industry, owner Mike Frantz said.Frantz said Hannay has done a good job of developing a niche glass product."A year ago, he was the only one who wanted to sell it, and now he has distributors throughout the world," Frantz said.After leaving the confines of the garage, Double Helix moved to a warehouse owned by Color Graphics, a Tumwater screenprinting company.Color Graphics previously used the space for storage before offering it for lease, co-owner Fred Gustafson said.He said Double Helix is a good tenant and doesn't require much parking because of its limited walk-in traffic.Rolf Boone covers business for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5403 or email@example.com.