Stained-glass artist finds her path by starting over

Yolonda Shimpock-Combs got interested in stained glass in 1985. She taught herself the craft, and four years later, she quit her job as an independent insurance claims adjuster to work for a stained-glass shop in Greensboro.

In 1994, she started her own shop, Celestial Glasworks, working out of her garage evenings and weekends. She quit her job at the studio and closed her shop to care for her husband, Earl Miller, after he had a stroke in 1999. After he died in 2001, she moved to Enochville, near her hometown of Kannapolis. She opened the shop's Kannapolis incarnation almost two years ago. She talked recently with staff writer Christina Rexrode about starting over after her first husband's death.

When Earl passed away, I had no family in Greensboro. My father had died and my mother had had a stroke, and I felt like it was time for me to move back to be close to her. I took the next year off, because I was exhausted from taking care of Earl and I was mourning. I didn't think I would open up the shop again.

I sent out resumes to the corporate world, and I was told I was either overqualified or underqualified. I realized that the corporate world was not where I really wanted to be, and there was something telling me that I needed to get back into glass.

One day I was driving down Dale Earnhardt Boulevard and saw a place for rent and said, "I'm opening a studio, a real studio this time." That was in August 2002. We opened for business the next month.

Anybody who goes into self-employment thinking they're going to have it made in the shade is fooling themselves. I haven't turned a profit yet, but it's absolutely worth it. I like the freedom to explore every facet that the art has. You never learn everything about this business.

600450 Stained-glass artist finds her path by starting over

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