Alumna Turns Glass Art Studio Into Own Business
Now that she is a small business owner, the value of community that Maddy Turskey ’17 adored at Dominican continues to guide her work.
A double major in business and art, Maddy, though only 26, is the new owner of Fuzed, a drop-in fused glass art studio in downtown San Rafael that re-opened this month in wake of the COVID-19 shutdown. She is building a new community there by relying on resources she tapped into while at Dominican. Maddy is utilizing all of the experiences and opportunities she was afforded at the University where she learned more than just what was in textbooks.
“Building community is a strength of Dominican, and I hope to be able to follow its lead and build my own with the studio and the surrounding residents,” Maddy says. “There are so many things I learned in the Barowsky School of Business that helped me be successful. There are of course the concrete, measurable skills such as accounting and marketing that are at play every day, but I also took a class where I was able to talk to executives from all over the Bay Area and get advice. My most meaningful experiences at Dominican were the ones where the community came together to create something great. At Fuzed, I strive to seek out partnerships that add value for customers, and provide a space where everyone feels like part of the team.”
A graduate of the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, Maddy wanted to go to a college close enough to be near her aunt, who lives in San Francisco. Her father encouraged her to major in business, knowing the value of a well-rounded education, but she had a soft spot in her heart for art.
“I knew he was right, but I wasn’t willing to give up studying art, so I honed in on schools that had both business and art programs available and came across Dominican,” Maddy says. “When I visited the campus in the fall, I was immediately in awe of how beautiful it was. The leaves were changing, and, coming from the palm trees and beaches of San Diego, I couldn’t help myself from lagging behind the tour group to take pictures. I went on other tours of other schools and soon realized I was comparing each school to Dominican. I suppose in true artist form, I chose beauty.”
At Dominican, Maddy connected with founder and executive director of the Institute for Leadership Studies, Dr. Denise Lucy, from day one. She suggested Maddy become a host student ambassador for the ILS Lecture Series with Book Passage. That learning opportunity for Maddy to meet guest lecturers and experience what successful business partnerships and sponsorships can do for the community to bring the lecture series to Dominican was a blessing.
Dr. Lucy also encouraged Maddy to follow her passion for art.
“She knew I was also pursuing art and put in the extra effort to tailor class discussions and assignments so they benefited my personal path,” Maddy says. “She even helped me search for my purse when I misplaced it during a school event.”
That personal care and attention carried over to Giulia Welch in the Global Education Office, who helped guide Maddy on her study abroad experience to Northern Ireland, and Lynn Sondag, associate professor in the Department of Art, Design and Visual Studies in the School of Liberal Arts and Education. She planned Maddy’s courses and enrolled her in a community engagement course that participated in artist JR’s global “Inside Out” portrait project, again creating an opportunity to infuse photography into her curriculum.
“She always supported my goals and brought photography opportunities my way as well as advised me on how to promote services and refine my personal style,” Maddy says. “My experience was so campus wide that I was even gifted a maintenance book for my ’64 Volkswagen beetle from one of the maintenance staff I got to know. I could go on forever listing all the ways I was supported by people at Dominican; small gestures or grand plans, there was no shortage of community on that campus.”
The knowledge and experience Maddy gained with her art and business majors blended perfectly into an opportunity to work at Fuzed almost immediately after graduation, manage the studio six months later and ultimately own the business a year after that when her boss asked if she wanted to purchase the business. A revolution in the industry, Fuzed’s drop-in structure gives the public the opportunity to try fused glass without the traditional barriers of having to invest in an in-home studio, a personal collection of glass and tools, or even classes.
Never mind that Maddy knew nothing about fused glass when she started. Dominican prepared her to be a fast learner.
“The concepts I learned as an art student are in every piece I have made in glass. Composition is probably the most notable; angles, edges and balance make or break every piece of art and knowing the fundamentals is invaluable. Color theory is also a huge factor in art, but especially in glass because of the way the glass plays with light,” Maddy explains.
“As an art student, I learned that everyone is an artist. I took plenty of classes with students just trying to fulfill their art requirement preaching that they were not artistic. That simply isn’t true in my experience. Everyone in the classes turned out impressive art pieces no matter the medium. At Fuzed, we get an incredible amount of people telling us they aren’t artistic, that they could never make anything that looks good, or that they have always been bad at art. Then they present these amazing creations at check-out. I am constantly inspired by what I see go through the kilns, and have learned that, given the opportunity, people can do amazing things.”
Maddy is not only opening her doors to a new community, but she is sharing her business and art experience with Dominican students. Dr. Lucy recently invited Maddy to return to campus to speak to 36 freshmen business students about the University’s arts management minor and business concentration in management.
“I hope they were inspired to follow their heart and do something that makes them feel fulfilled. I also want them to know that they are capable of incredible things,” Maddy says. “There is no secret hack or specific steps to achieve success, and success looks different for every person. Do something you love, and every day you can go home knowing that day was successful.”
As Marin is slowly reopening, so is Fuzed. After being closed for seven months, Maddy is finally able to invite people back in to create. Getting through this time has posed many challenges, though. Like all non-essential businesses, Fuzed was forced to close up shop overnight and left without any real idea of how long the shutdown would last.
“I’ve had to reinvent how the studio functions and am constantly making changes to try to fill the shifting needs of customers," Maddy says. "It has often felt like repeatedly starting from square one, but I’m grateful to everyone who has supported the business through these times.”
Hopeful for the future, Maddy is excited to start reconnecting with the community in-person again, and hopes to see both new and familiar faces in the studio as we roll into the holidays.
“I love being in the studio in the last months of the year; friends and families come in together to make gifts and ornaments and it really feels like it’s a place people can relax and have fun," Maddy says. "I hope it can be a place for people to decompress from this year and provide a place to connect with each other again.”