Natalie is all about authenticity, and her work is the real deal. Her modern designs merge clean, geometric lines and just the right amount of color and functionality. Her pieces are perfectly lovely as stand-alone art but often go the extra distance to provide a place for household items and plants to live.
Driven by creativity, this multitalented artist balances grad school, a career as a chemist, and her very own gleaming small business, Silica Shack. You’ll fall in love with her pieces and her down-to-earth perspective.
Natalie shares how she discovered her talent and built a multifaceted life for herself:
What Do You Create?
I create stained glass home décor. This includes planters, vases, organizational pieces, wall décor, etc. I try to incorporate plants and flowers where I can.
Tell us about your work!
I am a Product Development Scientist at Young Living for their skincare products, and I also run Silica Shack. I love plants and nature, so I bring that into my work whenever I can. I make many plant holders, vases, and wreaths with dried florals and pressed flower art. Most of my pieces are functional, 3D, and serve a purpose around the home. I offer products that keep you organized, give your plant a new home, or decorate your walls.
What is the best part about what you create?
Getting to see the final product come to life! It is an amazing feeling when the vision you have in your head works, looks good, and other people are excited about it as well. I’ve been thinking of combining dried florals with glass, and I think I have found my signature pieces, which makes me so happy.
How do you stay inspired + avoid creative ruts?
When you’re starting out, it’s hard to differentiate yourself from others and find your style. I finally feel like I am starting to figure that out, which is an incredible feeling. Trust me, not all my ideas have panned out, but it’s important to at least try! So far, the ideas have just been rolling in, and I haven’t fallen into any creative ruts. Most of my designs and ideas come when I am falling asleep at night. It’s weird. It just pops into my head! I make a list of all my ideas, so if I’m ever struggling in the future, I can take a look at the list and get inspired!
Favorite music for boosting creativity?
How does creativity bring goodness to your life?
I find joy from creating with my hands. We are given these amazing tools, and honestly, whenever I make something with my hands, it brings me happiness. With my full-time job and Silica Shack, I spend a lot of time putting raw materials together to create something new. I think that’s what has drawn me to pursue chemistry and the art of stained glass! Making with my hands helps me share my authenticity with the world. I can put my unique qualities and ideas into a project and create something that reflects that. That brings so much goodness into my life.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an interior designer. I am far from that with a degree in Chemistry, ha! However, Silica Shack has allowed me to “play” interior designer as I work to create content for my Instagram and website.
What do people NOT know about what you do?
People are probably not aware of what goes into creating a stained-glass piece unless they’re familiar with the craft. I haven’t done a great job of showing the process, but that’s something I want to work on for the future!
What made you decide to start working with glass?
I’ve always had an artistic hobby. When I was little, it was scrapbooking and jewelry making. In college, I tried my hand at photography and ceramics. Once I graduated, I had more time to explore fermentation, making essential oils, and beauty care products. I started seeing modern stained-glass art on Pinterest and thought I’d give it a try. I asked for a starter kit for Christmas, and it’s evolved from there.
Where do you go when you need a break?
The mountains. One thing I love about living in UT is how close I am to the mountains. It’s easy to get out to hike and enjoy nature.
Let’s be real, what’s the hardest/most frustrating thing about what you do?
The most frustrating part about starting a small, online business is marketing! I have no formal training in marketing, so that’s been the hardest thing to wrap my head around. There is so much to it, so much information online, so many possibilities. Where does one even start? Oh, and shipping! Oh my gosh, who knew how frustrating it would be to ship glass?! Send any tips!
Have you ever considered throwing in the towel? What stopped you?
I’ve only officially had my business since August, so thankfully, I haven’t considered throwing in the towel just yet! There have been times when I’ve asked myself what the heck I’m doing since I am juggling a full-time job, Silica Shack, and part-time grad school. It’s been a lot to juggle and schedule, but so far, everything has been going somewhat smoothly.
Your top 3 tips for women juggling a small business on top of other things?
Oh man, this is a tough one. It may seem obvious, but planning is a must. Before I even published my website, I planned out what to launch through the end of the year. This has allowed me to stay ahead and not feel like I am always playing catch up.
Only schedule what you can take on. Don’t make ridiculous to-do lists with a hundred things on it that you know you won’t be able to finish in a day. Split it up in reasonable chunks so you don’t get discouraged. Once you get a feeling for how much you can realistically do in a day, you can adjust your schedule from there.
Take a break when you need it. With everything that has been going on in my life and the world, this year has been stressful. There have been times when I feel overwhelmed and break down. To prevent that, you need to take breaks. I am not a big relaxer, but I have been getting better about reading my body and recognizing when I just need to do nothing. Relaxing means different things to everyone, so find something that works for you!
Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out for help! Starting a business is no easy feat, and there is always something to do. You will never be able to do it all. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends and ask for help, or if your budget allows, hire someone to help. Reach out to other women in your niche and ask for advice or how they tackled a certain problem. From my experience, most people are willing to help and want to see you succeed!
Your favorite glass hack?
Another glass artist shared this with me a few weeks ago, and it’s been a major game changer! When you’re cleaning off a piece, before applying patina, use a baking soda and toothbrush to remove any extra flux. My patina has never been more even and shiny!