Just as various facets of her stained glass designs meld into one, Pam Hinz blended her diverse careers into an artistic business.
Hinz opened SGO Designer Glass, which specializes in custom stained glass, in Minturn in late 2004. Though she appreciated art glass, she didn’t have any experience in the medium before she retired early from the corporate world in 2003.
Hinz grew up in Indiana, earned her master’s degree in education and taught first-graders. After six years, she “needed some adult content,” so she got her MBA and worked as a consulting partner with one of the nation’s biggest accounting firms. Throughout her career, she lived in Atlanta, Chicago, Japan and South America, among other places. Her travels familiarized her with people from different walks of life, which ultimately helped her ability to deeply listen to her clients’ ideas and transform them into glass. She prides herself on being able to put her ideas aside and custom design pieces that fit her clients perfectly.
She learned how to fabricate stained glass pieces from a friend in Chicago. Then she opened a shop in the Vail Valley, where she had a second home.
“I’ve had several career changes in the past, so I knew I could do it,” she says.
It was challenging to break into the tight-knit mountain community, but she kept doing the legwork and meeting building professionals. Now, she maintains a reputation of not only satisfying her customers, but also offering the latest product lines, such as custom carved and painted glass or rice paper, metallics and fabrics laminated between glass.
Though she still places stained glass predominantly in entryways, bathrooms and wine cellars, the designs have changed from an all-mountain-lodge look to mountain contemporary, which incorporates abstract aspects. Faux stained glass, made of a film on glass with metal tape on both sides, allows her to be even more creative and do things she can’t do with stained glass, like apply it to shower doors.
“Stained glass personalizes a home,” she says. “But it all revolves around the customers. You’ve got to listen and pay attention to them.”