Michele Spry | Midway Mercantile Co | 7301 W Henderson Road Columbia  

“Well, hi sugar!”

People who know her know her trademark greeting, and turn around and say, “Hi, Michele.”

To say Michele Spry is full of life is an understatement. Her energy, optimism, and philanthropic drive is contagious, and each conversation with her leaves one motivated and impassioned. 

Born and raised in Missouri and a proud graduate of Hickman High School, Michele met her husband at the youthful age of 16. They realized early on that their compatibility extended beyond a romantic connection, and they pursued their first entrepreneurial endeavor in 2001. Twenty-three years of marriage and five businesses later, they are still going strong.

Michele Spry

Michele initially established herself in the business community proudly representing their business, Midway Electric, Inc. Since the inception of that business, Michele has continued to grow as a business owner, but being the tireless individual that she is, has also added published author, and most recently, glass artist to her repertoire. 

Michele began exploring glass in 2018. She had already completed her second children’s book and the protagonist of that book, a World War II veteran, had passed away leaving her heartbroken with her desire to write extinguished. As a result, she began to take glass classes with a close friend, Cindy Mutrux, who eventually encouraged her to turn her newfound artistic expression into a business.

Michele’s most recent business venture, Midway Mercantile Co, began as an online Etsy store offering fused-glass pendants made from cut, COE 90 glass sheets. She quickly realized that offering pendants-alone was a bit limiting for growth and as her own skills grew, so did her store. She has now branched out to developing other inspiring  pieces such as earrings, rings, as well as household items like ring dishes, five-inch dishes, religious crosses, and magnets. she plans to offer greeting cards with magnets, too.

What is Michele’s next product goal? “I want to learn how to cut a circle! Something that sounds so easy but is very challenging,” she says. “Don’t worry, I never give up and will eventually master it!”

When asked why glass is her preferred medium, Michele says, “I find working with glass to be very relaxing and each piece is so interesting and distinctive. When you place pieces in the kiln you truly don’t know what you will get when you open it back up because glass can have a mind of its own. I wanted to find something that would allow me to design unique and one-of-a-kind pieces; 98 percent of what I make is truly one-of-a-kind. I also use Sterling Silver findings and necklaces for my pieces of jewelry as I want to provide a quality product to my customers.” 

The increase in offerings led Michele to pursue a brand facelift which has proven to be challenging and fun. According to Michele, “I want to stand out and be different from everyone else. While there are many fused glass artists out there and many of us do similar things, jewelry, dishes, magnets, etcetera, I am a little more OCD with my creations and have a method to how I create something. I love to support other small businesses and look all over the world to find unique glass pieces to put in my products.”

Michele looked to the design expertise of Gillian Tracey with Gillian Tracey Design to develop a new logo and she nailed it. The stunning logo incorporates a windmill theme that holds personal significance for Michele. “I love windmills and I can’t help but smile when I see them,” Michele says. “In fact, we have one outside our home and I have a real windmill head hanging on the wall in the living room!” The new image also opens up the potential for additional marketing opportunities for the company such as craft fairs and other retail endeavors.

But the glass business isn’t all business for Michele. In addition to the satisfaction obtained from finishing a one-of-a-kind piece, Michele loves the process.

“My studio is my happy place. It’s a spacious storage area converted to my workspace in our basement and it’s simply perfect,” she says. “My flooring is often what I use for my background when taking photos of my product and I have mostly contained my glass to this one area.

When I go down to my studio, I lose track of time. There are no windows and just a small radio that plays country music. I often sing along and just get focused on each project. Before I know it my husband comes down to make sure I am ok and I show him the various projects I have been working on. He is extremely supportive of anything I do.”

Outside of the studio, Michele looks to other artists for inspiration, but a couple of notable mentions include Cindy Scott with Cindy Scott Artistry, a “live painting” artist, and South African glass artist, Marguerite Beneke. Michele is drawn to creative individuals who just make their medium seem so effortless. 

“My customers inspire me. When you take a leap of faith to create a business like this, you aren’t sure how well it will be received. The outpouring support of so many people has truly inspired me to become better both as a person and to push myself as a glass artist.”