JDraper Glass

Local Artist Goes Out on a Limb to Follow Her Dream

By Ruth Bertram, Journalism Intern, Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, Bradley University

At 19 years-old studying Zoology at the University of Southern Illinois Carbondale, Jeremie Draper would walk past the art studio every day on her way to class. As she walked by the studio, she was drawn by the dangerous yet unique method of students practicing the art of glass blowing and decided to go out on a limb and change her major. With no experience in glass blowing, Draper started her artistic journey which led her to own her own business, J. Draper Glass.
Pics of Jeremie

JDraper Glass is an artistic, educational & entertainment studio dedicated to providing hands-on opportunities.  They are located in former SunBeam Building on Sheridan Road in Peoria IL.

Draper began her business journey with glass blowing as the Catering Director for Echo Valley Meats, after her boss Dave Alwan, let her use an old meat locker to run her studio.

While working in the catering industry and running a small studio on the side, Draper decided to go to an art show in Chicago Illinois. While at the show, Draper saw a poster to audition for the Corning Museum of Glass in New York, to blow glass at sea.

Draper decided to take a leave of absence at her current job and try out for the position.

After making the final cut of artists, and going through one month of training, Draper decided she wanted to leave the Corning Museum, and come back to Peoria to take her small meat locker studio to the next level.

Once Draper came home, she began working with the Illinois Small Business Development Center [SBDC] alongside career advisor Ross Miller. Draper claims that Miller was an immense help starting her business by assisting her with aspects such as deciding what type of business she was going to operate and understanding the statistics of small businesses.

Looking back on her career, Draper states that her biggest challenge in owning a small business is the time commitment.

“I’ve never looked at a calendar so much,” said Draper when describing her hectic work schedule.

twirling glass toad stools Blowing Glass

Despite her many challenges, Draper claims that she thoroughly enjoys her career and loves making an impact on the individuals she inspires through her work.

“I feel like I am successful when I make someone smile,” said Draper.

For rising entrepreneurs, Draper encourages them to find what they are passionate about and excel in it.

“If I would have never had a passion from within, it would have never happened,” said Draper.

Today, Draper runs her small business alongside her team Misty Long, Brandie Centi and Katie Cottingham, all of whom Draper claims are a tremendous help to her business success.
Sm Busn Partner of the Year Award

For the future, Draper plans to continue working alongside the Bradley SBDC advisors in hopes to continue offering classes and expand her new line of work,  memorials - taking a portion of the remains of humans or animals and incorporating them into glass pieces.

To find out more information, or to contact J.Draper Glass, you can email them at info@jdraperglass.com, visit their website at www.jdraperglass.com, or you can find them on Facebook @Jdraperglass.