Like most success stories go, this one starts with massive support from Dan Neff’s family. Dan has been blowing glass since 2003, but the decision to break out of his home studio is a unique tale.
In 2012, Duluth was looking to change the culture of the downtown area. A contest was developed: Go Downtown Grow Downtown, the Great Space Giveaway, in which two lucky winners would secure free storefront space in the Downtown.
Finalists went through the process of creating business plans with the help of the Northeast Entrepreneur Fund and grand prize winners would receive a package that included free rent for one year, a free advertising package with the local newspaper, free marketing services from a local creative agency, free retail mentoring services from Maurices, free membership with the Greater Downtown Council, and startup loan assistance from the Northeast Entrepreneur Fund.
Dan’s family pushed him to participate in the contest. At only 25 years old, Dan wasn’t sure if he was ready to take all this on, but his family and friends saw the need for more art influence in the Duluth area. They knew that Dan’s leadership, business sense, and never-ending drive would serve him well. And they were correct.
The contest drew in 56 concept business plans and was narrowed down to 15 finalists. Due to the quality of the candidates, the selection committee opted to provide three grand prizes rather than the original two that were offered. Dan’s business plan was chosen as one of the grand prize winners, and Lake Superior Art Glass was brought to the Twin Ports. From out of his home studio, into his newly built space, a legacy in glass began.
This year, Lake Superior Art Glass celebrates 7 years in business with 15 employees and an expanded location that includes a gallery and two studios for flamework and furnace glassblowing. Sometimes you’ve got to believe that your family knows best what you are capable of.