Take your business elsewhere.
Stacey Schlosser could not have imagined uttering those words when she started her Glassworks Studio in Morristown nearly 15 years ago. She has striven to create a warm, welcoming environment where friends and families can unwind while making colorful, personalized gifts and objets d’art.
Yet not long ago, a customer got out of line. Way out of line. And Schlosser politely but firmly directed the man to vacate the premises tout de suite.
Years of experience, and involvement with the Morristown Women in Business, had boosted “my ability to be confident in what I do, what I provide, the service that I give and the feelings that I have for the customers at Glassworks,” said Schlosser, who was honored this week with the organization’s Melody Whitelaw Community Service Award.
Schlosser’s remarks at the Mayo Performing Arts Center’s Starlight Room highlighted an evening that combined poignant moments and good humor, as the Women in Business (WIB) celebrated successful female entrepreneurs.
The community service award commemorates the late Melody McGinley Whitelaw, better known as Chef Melody, “Caterer to the Stars.” A friend to numerous organizations, including MorristownGreen.com, she co-founded the WIB.
“She was an amazing, terrific, way-out-there kind of woman,” said emcee Tara Bernie, a senior producer for NBC’s Access Hollywood who also was Chef Melody’s neighbor.
Schlosser, who is known for encouraging new business owners, and for her extensive volunteer service with local nonprofits and her temple, “is the epitome of what Melody Whitelaw was about,” said Mary Dougherty, who started the WIB group with Chef Melody four years ago.
PERSISTENCE AND PASSION
Awards also went to Marilyn Harlos-Sealy, owner of the Wells Rug Service Inc., and to Tim and Soraya Balshi, who opened Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar on South Street late last year. It’s the Pennsylvania couple’s fifth store, and first in New Jersey.
Harlos-Sealy was honored for “Carrying Tradition Forward” by keeping alive a rug service that moved into a former Model T repair shop on Bank Street in 1929.
Bernie lauded the Morristown High School graduate for “meeting every challenge head-on” — including a devastating fire, two trucks smashing into the shop, and rheumatoid arthritis that has required seven surgeries.
“My employees are like my family,” a proud family that has served four generations of customers, Harlos-Sealy said.
Of course, families come with issues.
“I have nine men working for me. Which can be a challenge,” Harlos-Sealy deadpanned. Still…
“I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have your own business,” she said. “Sometimes you lose sleep. But it’s the most rewarding thing in my life, other than my husband and my dogs.”
Seasons shop manager Whitney Mayer accepted the “Entrepreneurial Achievement Award” on behalf of the Balshis, whose mission is to import the best virgin olive oil from their farm in Spain.
“They’re very passionate about their olive oils and balsamic vinegars,” said Mayer, noting how their zeal for their products’ culinary and health benefits made her a convert in less time than it takes to read this sentence.
ORGANS, MENTORS, AND WIBys
The program also featured powerful pitches by two women from the New Jersey Sharing Network, which arranges organ donor transplants.
A dozen years ago, a liver transplant saved Mendham café owner Michele Dabal from a rare autoimmune disease. And Jane Buckiewicz said three lives were saved by organs from her son Dan, a Ramapo College senior killed in a car crash eight years ago.
“It really did change something that was otherwise senseless into something very precious…we still get to feel proud of our son each day,” said Buckiewicz.
Both ladies urged audience members to register as organ donors, and to ask loved ones about their wishes. More than 122,000 people nationwide–and at least 4,000 in New Jersey–await transplants, according to the Sharing Network.
On a lighter note, Schlosser dubbed the awards “the WIBys,” for Women in Business. There were more laughs when Bernie related how the organization struggled, unsuccessfully, to surprise Schlosser with her award.
That’s because Glassworks makes the plaques every year. Schlosser could not understand why the organizers insisted on leaving off the Whitelaw award recipient’s name this time. She finally pried the answer from them.
Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin
Giving thanks to her family, Schlosser choked up recounting examples set by her father, a druggist recognized throughout his community, and by her late father-in-law, a mentor to many in Morristown.
“He just didn’t understand what I was doing, what [Glassworks] was about, how it worked. He didn’t know how to help me. I think to his dying day it drove him crazy as one of his regrets,” Schlosser said. Yet she was okay with that, she said, because he led by example.
“And if anybody had told me I would walk in my in-laws’ shoes, I would have been, like, What?”
Schlosser conceded it took a little gumption and lots of chutzpah to launch her studio on a whim, after visiting the Corning Glass Museum. “I am not an artist,” she said, calling herself an “‘artrepreneur” who loves hosting Girl Scout troops, special needs kids, corporate groups and ladies BYOB nights.
‘We’re always ready to provide people with an outlet, because the world is crazy, it’s overwhelming,” she explained. “Some of us have had a really tough time the last few months.”
Glassworks, she promised, “can provide you with a little ‘escape-cation.’ It’s not a big vacation. But it’s a way to take yourself away from the world.”
And if that’s not enough? Hey, you know what you can do.
Disclosure: Glassworks Studio and Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar are part of Morristown Green’s advertising family. We are proud to have them! Congratulations to all this year’s winners.