Native New Yorker Karen Feldman moved to Prague in 1994 intending to work for a shampoo company. In a twist of fate, the owner of the company decided to move into chicken farming and Feldman was left unemployed. To bide the time, she began browsing Prague’s bazaars and antique stores. As she began collecting vintage Czech toys, children’s books and Art Deco furniture, Feldman also developed an eye for antique glass.
At first, Feldman’s idea was to reproduce and market some historic designs she had uncovered. She approached an existing glassware manufacturer but quickly discovered the many obstacles to collaborating with a post-communist era Czech glass company. Instead, she decided to start her own company and named it Artěl, after a collective of Czech artisans formed in the early 1900s devoted to upholding super hand-made craftsmanship.
Feldman launched Artěl in 1998 with only
$2,500 of her own savings, no experience in the glass industry, and no phone or fax machine for the first year. Since then the company has grown significantly and now enjoys a global reputation for the highest quality products. Artěl glassware is sold around the world in 26 countries and its client roster includes Rolls-Royce, Paul Smith, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys Japan, and Gucci.