The Heart of Our Glass
May 6, 2021
Those who know Emma best are very well-acquainted with the colorful glasses in which we serve our signature La Babia margaritas. What you may not know is that the unique glassware comes from our friends at Rose Ann Hall Designs, where each vessel is carefully crafted by skilled Mexican artisans, many of whom are disabled. Here, Rose’s son Charlie Hall shares the backstory of his mother’s eponymous company and the efforts they’ve made to create a workplace that’s diverse and inclusive.
What inspired your mother to launch her business?
When my father retired early, my mother said that she couldn’t sit around doing nothing. A few years earlier, after my brother and I were out of college, my parents sold their house and moved into a condo. My mom had decorated it with some very special glass from Mexico, from one of the oldest glass factories still in existence at the time. Everyone remarked on it. In 1988, she went to the factory in Mexico and asked if she could represent them in the U.S. Her first client was Neiman Marcus, then six months later, she went to the New York International Gift Fair, where she sold to Barney’s, Bendel’s, and Bergorf Goodman – but most importantly, she met and sold to Dean & DeLucca. Mr. Dean became her “New York godfather” until his death. Whatever Mr. Dean did, many followed.
How did you become involved?
In 2003, I left the corporate world. At that time, my parents were in Galveston and my brother had been living in San Miguel de Allende. In 2004, my parents left Texas for Mexico and I was left on my own in Texas running a company that I really knew nothing about. In 2005, [with my brother’s help] we opened in San Miguel. At the time that I came on board, my mother’s two main products were hand-hammered copper and the candles that we still make. My mother worked with artisans all over Mexico and was able to follow trends. At her height, she had 185 copper designs in home accessories and a large segment of the market. When the demand for copper dwindled, my brother helped us get into our current glass — the glass that Hotel Emma has now.
What is the process of creating the Emma glassware?
We wanted to grow and have more control over consistency and quality, so the factories came very soon after the switch from copper. We opened both the glass-carving and candle factories within five months of one another. At this point, all glasses are made from recycled glass. They are actually carved on a wheel, not etched. The glasses are pressed against a wet wheel and the designs are created in that manner.
Tell us about the mission to employee disabled artisans…
I was born with a disability in 1960. In 1965, we visited Mexico for the first time. The people of Mexico treated me as just another kid. My family and I recognized this within a few days, so we began frequent trips, including driving around the country for six weeks each summer. For me and my childhood memories in Mexico, it was only natural to want to give back to the country and to the disabled community. Since our factories opened, we have tried to maintain an average of 20-30% of the workforce being disabled. I was 33 before anyone would hire me in the U.S. in a professional position. People need that first opportunity.