When local artist and devoted mom, Michelle Bigelow, responded to a call from her grown daughter’s very pressing need of wine charms for her stemless glassware, Bigelow had no idea her solution would become a viable business opportunity.
Three years after that fateful phone call, Bigelow, owner of For Your Glass Only, has received a patent on the design with two others forthcoming. For the next 15 years, no one else will be able to replicate her innovative product that’s different from the average wine charm.
“I didn’t like the noise and clatter (of the traditional wine charms) and the ones that wrapped around the stem were complicated to get off. Stemless glasses propelled me to come up with this idea of making them wine glass markers, which is a new vocabulary, and also kind of distinguishes them,” Bigelow said.
A self-professed James Bond fan, Bigelow arrived at the name for her business after spending several minutes going over the titles of past movies until she came to the twelfth one in the successful spy franchise, For Your Eyes Only, and proclaimed ‘That’s it!’
Each wine marker adds a touch of personality for every glass shape, won’t scratch the sometimes delicate material and can be taken off for cleaning with greater ease than most beaded charms.
As a three time cancer survivor, Bigelow chose to use wire to create the tension necessary for each marker to securely adhere to glass rims rather than magnets due to the controversy surrounding magnetic field exposure and cancer.
If some of her creations hint to a bygone era, it’s because she enjoys the uniqueness and color combinations found in broaches.
“There are certain pieces of jewelry in our culture now that we don’t wear but we still look at and admire,” Bigelow said.
To that end she custom-fits unworn jewelry into wine markers. She’s had people bring in their nana’s broaches and she’s modeled two markers after earrings her mom used to wear. All of the pieces in her line are made after someone important in her life and each one has a name to add to the personalization of her product. The holidays, birthdays and showers are ideal times to take special family pieces and repurpose them, she said.
“Everybody’s drinking wine now and, to me, having a custom wine marker made from a special piece of family jewelry invokes a nice memory,” Bigelow explained.”
This Christmas season, Bigelow will be displaying her markers at Confluence Winery’s Holiday Boutique on December 12 and English Estate Winery’s ‘Twas The Last Sip Before Christmas Wine & Art Sale on December 19. She also displayed them at Burnt Bridge Cellars’ Holiday Craft Fair on December 5.
In 2016, Bigelow plans to follow up her success at the Taste of Coeur d’Alene in Idaho and shows in the Dundee/McMinnville area by traveling into Southern Idaho and California for wine-related shows. Considering that the average price point of her markers is $10, the $3,000 weekend she experienced in Coeur d’Alene is impressive. Sets of four, which are a popular gift item, run between $38 and $40, and Bigelow takes great care to ensure the shapes are distinguishable and the colors are compatible.
Although closed for the season, For Your Glass Only markers can also be found aboard the Pacific Northwest riverboat, American Empress, as passengers float along the Columbia and Snake Rivers, which Bigelow is particularly proud of.
Bigelow’s attention to detail and thoughtful, intentional personality set her apart. Each piece is handcrafted and always will be. Every design is tested on a glass and, if it doesn’t meet her high standards, it’s disassembled and reworked until it does.
“I’m a tiny business owner with no education in business so I’m learning everything as I go. I’m moving slowly and cautiously into this realm,” Bigelow said. “One of the things I get out of this is that I love meeting people. I love talking with them (and) I love sharing with them.”