Piece Of Mind: Giving Back To The Community
“We strive to love everybody and always lend a helping hand. I’ve never been a part of a team that has so much passion for the glass industry and their job. Not only does POM have an amazing work environment, but it’s an actual career opportunity.” -Ashley
In The Beginning
Nearly 20 years ago, Justin Wilson opened a small glass shop in the Spokane Valley of Eastern Washington. It had a small inventory of pipes and bongs, and a green vinyl couch by the front door. Justin slept on that couch until Piece of Mind took off, and in 2000, a second Piece of Mind location opened in North Spokane. There are now 12 Piece of Mind glass shops located across the United States in Seattle and Tacoma, Alaska, Montana, Oregon and California.
Piece of Mind stores feature innovative, functional American glass art ranging in price from ten dollars to thousands. These seriously cool smoke shops feature functional art pieces from the country’s finest glass artists including Buck, Scott Deppe and Robert Mickleson.
The Evergreen State Project (ESP)
In 2012, Justin founded ESP in an effort to involve his businesses and staff in the local community by giving back to those in need. ESP’s mission is to unite the artistic glass and cannabis communities through events which showcase talent across the Pacific Northwest. ESP has raised over $20,000 and has reinvested that money back into their community by donating to beneficiaries such as Holy Family Pediatrics and ER, Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, Agape Women and Children’s Shelter and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
One of the ESP’s most successful and fun events that brings community members together is the Boro Derby. The brainchild of Spokane glass artist Brandon Welk, the Boro Derby is a charity event which brings together borosilicate glass artists to create derby-style smokable glass cars! The 2016 Boro Derby will be held at Domer’s Studio in Spokane from September 30 to October 2. The borosilicate glass artists featured in the Boro Derby build a car and race it down an official Boy Scouts of America pinewood derby track. The cars are then auctioned off and the proceeds are donated to ESP beneficiaries.
This year at the Boro Derby, glassblowers will be divided into teams of two to test their skills. Building their cars over the first two days, the final day will see the blowers’ vehicles race down the derby track. Glass artists from across the United States will be at the event, but vehicle entries are also accepted via mail—there is even a ‘Fly In’ category available for artists who can’t make it to the event but wish to donate a piece of art for the charity auction.
Community Love and Values
While Piece of Mind is invested in the American glass art community and the local community at large, the business could not exist without the love, care and passion provided by the Piece of Mind Family. Consisting of about 70 staff members, the Piece of Mind family spreads across 12 stores and one other location, known as ‘HeadyQuarters.’ This family of glass enthusiasts is dedicated to the industry they work in. Piece of Mind has ‘family members’ who have been with the company upwards of ten years; this is a company you want to work for forever. “We strive to love everybody and always lend a helping hand. I’ve never been a part of a team that has so much passion for the glass industry and their job. Not only does POM have an amazing work environment, but it’s an actual career opportunity,” one employee expressed.
I talked with Ashley, one of Piece of Mind’s upper echelon. She started working for the company less than three years ago and has moved up the ladder from sales associate to regional manager quickly. She knew she wanted to be a part of the Piece of Mind team from her third day on the job; as a mother of young boys, Ashley is appreciative and grateful of the team she is charged with alongside her colleague, Lauren. “I love being able to work so closely with the owner of the company I work for, not many people get the opportunity to be on the front lines of helping a business be successful and grow,” Lauren shared.
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