Stephanie Hall brings her childhood memories to life
Words by Javacia Harris Bowser
Photos by Catherine Hurt
Some of Stephanie Hall’s fondest childhood memories are of days spent with her grandmother Estelle. During summer months, the Charleston, South Carolina native would go with her grandmother on day-long shopping trips for antiques, colorful glassware, and other treasures.
“She had two china cabinets filled with pretty dishes,” Hall says of “Big Mama,” as she was known to the family.
The pretty dishes weren’t just for show. Estelle used them to serve home-cooked meals to anyone who stopped by, even if they showed up unannounced. And Big Mama’s house was the place to be for Sunday dinner and dessert after church.
These childhood memories are the heartbeat of Hall’s company Estelle Colored Glass, which she launched in October of 2019.
Estelle Colored Glass is a luxury brand of hand-blown colored glass cake stands and glassware, available in a mix of jewel tones and soft pastels. To create the collection, Hall partnered with glass artisans from a 100-year-old glass making company in Poland. When choosing the colors for the pieces, she looked to furniture and fashion for inspiration. The lavender pieces in the collection, for instance, were inspired by an Elie Saab gown.
Hall says the pieces are a modern take on old-fashioned Southern hospitality.
“Colored glass gives your event a personality,” Hall says. “They’re very memorable pieces. They’re very distinctive signature pieces.”
The Estelle Colored Glass collection has been distinctive enough to snag plenty of attention. Hall and her company have been featured in the magazines Domino and Southern Living and by the media company PopSugar and have been acclaimed by many more.
Media coverage has helped boost her business, but Hall hopes it does more.
“I hope I can be inspiring to other people sitting on ideas,” she says. “Get moving on them. Just start because you don’t know when opportunity is going to knock.”
The Family Business
Estelle Colored Glass isn’t Hall’s first entrepreneurial venture.
In 2005, she launched a wedding rental company called Ruth’s House Event Rentals. At the time, she was a business and corporate tax lawyer in the Washington, D.C., area, so her parents oversaw the company.
But in 2010, after practicing law for 10 years, Hall decided to move back to Charleston to run Ruth’s House Event Rentals and become a full-time entrepreneur. Shortly after, she launched her second company, Wedding Flowers for Rent, with her sister. Both companies continue to thrive.
Despite all the business savvy she picked up running these companies, Hall says she was afraid to launch Estelle Colored Glass.
“This one was very close to me because I named it after my grandmother,” she says. “But you have to have the fear and do it anyway.”
Hall says many of her family members didn’t want her to give up her law career for life as an entrepreneur. Though she quickly created a comparable income through her businesses, some family members felt entrepreneurship lacked the prestige of a career in law.
“If you get an entrepreneurial spirit and start something in your local community, and you offer a great service, you don’t know what that’s going to grow into,” she says. “Our Estelle brand has quickly grown into a national brand, and we’re starting an international reach.”
Word began to spread about Estelle Colored Glass, first through a pop-up shop, networking, and local media coverage. After influencers began to buzz about the pieces, Instagram took notice and did a feature on the collection.
In June of 2020, the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement prompted many media outlets to highlight Black-owned businesses. Estelle Colored Glass was featured in roundups by the magazines Harper’s Bazaar, Elle Décor, and several others. The company was also included in Beyoncé’s online directory of Black-owned businesses.
“I’m very proud of my Black heritage,” Hall says.
And she hopes her grandmother would be proud of her—not just for the business she’s created but also for how she’s carried on Big Mama’s traditions in her own way.
“When you think of Big Mama, you think of someone who can do it all,” Hall says.
She doesn’t claim to be on her grandmother’s level when it comes to hospitality, but she pulls out her colored glass collection for special occasions, and her family meals are always high quality and well planned.
“I’m never putting a raggedy dinner on the table for my family,” Hall says with a laugh.
The Story Continues
What’s next for Estelle Colored Glass?
“We’re definitely in a growth mode,” Hall says.
She wants to expand the Estelle team and product line, and there are plans for more pop-up shops, too.
“We’re trying to become sustainable and not be a short-lived trend,” she says.
Hall’s sister Selena McCollum, co-founder of Wedding Flowers for Rent, is helping with the growth of the Estelle brand. As creative director, she helps Hall brainstorm ideas for photoshoots, catalogs, future products, and more. She works closely with vendors, too.
“I make sure that everything that we do is authentic,” McCollum says. “The brand is evolving, but I want to make sure that we’re staying true to what she initially set forth for the brand as a whole.”
Whether given as gifts or used at family dinners, the Estelle Colored Glass collection is meant to spread hospitality and help people make memories, Hall says.
“We’re going to continue telling our story,” she says, “because it’s not just our story.”