Central Valley Business Journal, March 2012
By KEITH MICHAUD/Business Journal Editor
Daffodils and white birch trees anchor the scene that opens onto a cascading waterfall with evergreens and snowcapped mountains in the background.
The image is comforting and vivid enough to invoke sensory memories of cool, crisp spring air blowing down from the mountains. It takes on an even warmer glow with golden sun shining through the image.
“At the end of the day we come up with some spectacular pieces,” said John Mullins, owner with wife Mary of Valley Rose Designer Glass in Modesto.
The family owned business offers traditional stained glass, stained glass overlay, and textured glass for residential, commercial, and religious applications, although churches have been the business’ most reliable clients over the past few years.
“They have been our mainstay,” Mary Mullins said of work for religious buildings.
The Mullins offer art glass for a variety of uses. Some homeowners want sunlight to come through a window or door, but also want the privacy that art glass can provide.
“Many homeowners would like privacy at their front entryways … or in bathrooms or in feature windows,” said Mary Mullins, “but they don’t really want to lose light or they are seeking a creative alternative to standard window treatments. Art glass is a wonderful option.”
And stained glass has been in churches and other religious buildings since the art form began.
The couple points to their own spirituality as one reason for getting into stained glass in the first place. As Roman Catholics, the couple has been around stained glass in churches all their lives. The name of the business itself is a nod to the Central Valley and the “rose” represents the mother of Jesus and St. Therese of Lisieux, for whom roses were a signature and her nickname was “The Little Flower.”
With a downturn in residential building, spiritual projects have kept the business going. From work at a monastery in Redwood Valley to work at churches from St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Lodi to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Modesto and beyond, Valley Rose has kept fairly busy.
The couple spent about six months to a year researching going into stained class and decided on a Stained Glass Overlay franchise.
“It was a good start for us,” Mary Mullins said of the franchise.
They started the business in 2004 after John Mullins suffered a layoff from his job as an accountant.
“We thought it might be fun to have our own business,” Mary Mullins said. “John is an accountant so I knew we had the perfect business manager.”
“To go out and try to do something on our own. … It’s been a leap of faith,” said John Mullins.
After three years running the business out of a studio, the Mullins set up shop in their garage.
“We work well together,” Mary Mullins said. “We tend to have a division of labor.”
Mary Mullins, armed with an ever-growing portfolio, meets with prospective clients. From those discussions, she designs a piece for the client.
John Mullins takes care of the business side, heavy lifting, and with their youngest child, Caroline, build
the pieces in their Modesto garage.
The portfolio has grown, said Mary Mullins, because of the variety of jobs they have handled over the years. At first, it was standard offerings for entryways to add a certain amount of privacy, but it has transformed to being able to offer one-of-a-kind pieces such as the scenes from Yosemite National Park that a wife ordered as a surprise for her husband.
John and Mary Mullins hoped to get back to the glass business full time once the economy recovers more.
“That would be ideal,” said John Mullins.
Contact Valley Rose Designer Glass by calling 209-238-3236 or emailing the business at email@example.com.
Contact the author about this and other stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.