Meet Molten 1090’s sister-sister founders
By Abdur Rehman Cheema
“We didn’t want to build JUST another glass studio creating products, we wanted to find a better way to create a business that has a restorative and regenerative approach to designing and making.”
An interview with Molten 1090 founders Laura and Emily Smith.
How did the opportunity to work together come about?
Laura: This is a long-held dream realised. Emily has always been an advisor to me, when it comes to running my business, and ensuring I nurture the commercial alongside my naturally creative nature and would invariably result in out of this world chats about what it would be like to finally work together. The reality is so much better!
For so long we were in very different worlds. I was deeply rooted in my craft and design and Emily focused on the corporate world, and the reality was hard to implement. The pandemic actually allowed me the space to take a deep dive into the direction of my craft and where I wanted it to go.
Emily: Yeah, we’ve always known that we’re very different people when it comes to both our personalities and our skill sets and ultimately that’s why we work so well together. And, it also meant we had to organically come to a point in our lives and careers where it made sense for us. Most importantly, at a time where we both felt and knew we could add value to this partnership.
The global covid pandemic was the catalyst. I think we have and will continue to see many new entrepreneurs emerge from the pandemic aftermath, it has triggered a start-up boom. Entrepreneurs are taking a leap of faith and following their passions.
What are the common influences you share?
Laura: A shared sense of place, an interest in people and creating lovely safe spaces for them to enjoy life alongside us. This often results in gathering people and providing delicious and nourishing food. It was when Emily moved from the financial world to the sustainability world that we suddenly had much more in common, workwise.
We had discussions of a crystal-clear shared belief that businesses are at the forefront of driving sustainable practices and we, as business owners, want to make sure we are living that truth. Central to us achieving this and indeed at the heart of our brand is circular design and producing locally in the UK. We didn’t want to build JUST another glass studio creating products, we wanted to find a better way to create a business that has a restorative and regenerative approach to designing and making products—driven through a considered-by-design practice.
Emily: I don’t think all siblings are made to work together, but when you have the same moral compass and absolute trust in your sister/brothers’ motivations, you can become a force to be reckoned with. That’s where we sit. Laura and I understand our strengths and weaknesses and fortunately for us, they are opposite to each other so typically where I will struggle, Laura will thrive and vice versa. It is a unique partnership in that sense. We have full belief in each other’s abilities and are not shy to push each other as a result.
"...businesses are at the forefront of driving sustainable practices and we, as business owners, want to make sure we are living that truth."
Why build a new brand rather than focus on Laura Elizabeth Glass?
Emily: LE Glass is a wonderful and successful brand and when we joined forces to see how we could bring more efficiencies to the business we quickly concluded that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Instead, we stepped back and considered how we could respond to the existing demand by our audience for a more accessible collection.
Not everyone is in a position in life to commission a bespoke chandelier and we have always had demand for products that are more accessible to a larger demographic. So, we took the learnings of Laura Elizabeth Glass, particularly around creating a more circular driven design model, and set to work building a brand and product line that would bring the beauty and one-of-a-kind nature of bespoke handblown glass to a collection driven model that is complementary to our commission-based model at LE Glass.
Laura: I had a desire to design glass and objects which were more playful and could be used in daily life. They say the most predictable thing about glass is that it is unpredictable. So, when you’re making new pieces every week you inevitably have a few cast offs that end up in the bin—or my storage unit! In this process I could see a place for how to design differently. Designing the initial product (tumbler) for a collection and the final product (yet to be created lamp table) in tandem so the circular process could be facilitated.
How does Bermuda fit into it all?
Laura: I live and breathe the landscape I’m surrounded by and growing up on a subtropical island there is an elemental essence to your life flow. Life there can feel very small and intimate one minute and the next suddenly vast and bathybic. I live and breathe the sea and it's been very much in the DNA of my work to date. Whether it’s conscious or not for Emily, I believe the spirit of the place you were born drives an element of your personality.
Emily: Our hearts are both rooted in Bermuda. We had the most incredible privilege to grow up in a place that is beautiful and enchanting every way you look at it—people, community and nature. As far as I can remember we would take part in beach and ocean cleanups, making us acutely aware the impact mass production of goods, particularly plastic products, was having on our island. There’s something about being from a place so small that you can feel your impact on it every day, for good or for bad. I concur with Laura. The spirit of Bermuda certainly drives elements of my personality.