Lifetime artist, business owner and entrepreneur Mary Hong is expanding her business faster than she expected.
She currently has three shops and expanded her artistic footprint further with a new pop-up shop in Baytowne Wharf.
Due to popular demand, she was able to branch off from her seven-year-old home-store in Grayton Beach last year and opened her second store in New Orleans. She then settled in Nashville, Tennessee, and now has a three-month lease in Baytowne Wharf that expires in September.
“I’m really trying to expand The Shard Shop,” said Hong. “I’m actually trying to franchise it. I’ve been working on it for years and it’s an enormous expense, and I’m still a mom and a wife, so I’m still trying to balance that.”
The Shard Shop is a space where Hong allows customers to come in and create their own works of art, using Hong's unique style.
Her Baytowne pop-up shop is lakeside, across from Provisions, in the former Osaka Sushi Rocks building. The shop is open from 4 to 9 p.m. seven days a week, with a last call at 8 p.m.
The Shard Shop customers get a 10 percent discount if they bring their own canvases, and Hong welcomes other home-brought supplies.
All the glass used during classes is repurposed and most items are donated. Hong also works with a variety of materials including vintage jewelry, ceramics, seashells and wood.
However, she does try to stay away from plastics.
“It’s just not as shiny as the other stuff,” said Hong.
Hong also teaches art at the Henderson, a beach resort in Destin, along with hosting events like Art in the Park, an activity where she sets up shop at local parks and welcomes bystanders to join.
She recently developed all-in-one design packets, which she offers to anyone looking to take artwork home. The single-use design-packets come in three different sizes — the mini, the foundation and the premium, with an assortment artworks in each section.
She credits her recent expansion to hard work and a steady demand for a different style of art she said wasn’t available before The Shard Shop was founded.
“People come in and they love it because it’s an activity,” Hong said. “It’s something they can do with their family. It’s an art gallery. It’s not a restaurant. It’s not a bar.”
Hong hopes to eventually launch a new online business she’s working on called Shardworx.
“I dreamed up the Shardshop because I wanted the word ‘shard’ in there, because we aren’t mosaic,” Hong said. “When you think glass art, you think blown glass, so I started with ‘shard’ because that’s truly what I’m doing.”