Zachary Nafziger, owner of and sole craftsman at ZN Stained Glass, is the first to admit business may not be his strongest suit.
But the clients who nominated him for the “10 Under 40” and invest in his works, which includes the entrance to Eastern Mennonite High School — an 18½-foot piece featuring a starry night version of Midtowne Market’s logo — and glasswork for at least two dozen private establishments in the downtown Harrisonburg area, disagree.
Nafziger has more than 1,400 followers on Facebook, and he’s only been in business for eight months.
“I claim to not be a good businessman, but I’ve come up with sort of a price structure that’s extremely reasonable for one-of-a-kind regional art,” said the artisan who came to Harrisonburg by way of Morris, Minn. “It was shocking to see my Facebook page — suddenly everyone’s like, ‘Hey, you’re really good.’”
Nafziger’s success, however, did not come overnight.
After he graduated from EMHS in 1994, Nafziger followed his passion for art to the Savannah College of Art in Savannah, Ga. He remained in the port city for the next two years, before taking time to travel.
After that point, Nafziger decided he wanted focus in his life: He moved back to Harrisonburg, enrolled in and graduated from Eastern Mennonite University’s art program in 2002, and found stability as a photographer with Rosetta Stone.
“It was my first real and only job ever,” he said.
Nafziger held that position until Rosetta began cutting payroll and, eventually, employees. His layoff was a trying moment.
“I sat around for about three or four days, feeling sorry for myself,” he said. “It was weird to get dumped by something I was so connected to for 12 years. I watched the company grow and take over the entire language-learning world.”
Throughout his tenure with Rosetta Stone, Nafziger made glass part time and, at the urging of a fellow local artist, moved his home studio to The Gladys Burke Studio in Larkin Arts on Court Square, where others would have access to his works.
He signed a year lease in March and business has increased since.
“At this point, word-of-mouth has helped me so much,” he said. “People aren’t just looking for any glass; they’re looking specifically for me. When I’m meeting clients, I’m not selling something that already exists — I’m selling myself and what I can do for them.
“I want whatever I make for them to be permanent.”
Courtesy Daily News Record, Dec. 2013