At first, it looked like any cool happenin’ in Scott’s Addition – party-goers spilling out onto the back steps on a warm night, craft beers in hand; a DJ spinning tunes in the background. But this wasn’t just any party. It was the VCU Business Alumni Society Social at Session Studios – actually, glassblower Jack Alden’s vision of a more perfect world.
“I have the idea that the workplace should be creative,” he says. “This event has been all-consuming in my mind, and VCU helped make it happen. We collaborated.”
Thus, a networking opportunity for more than 100 alumni and guests. A glassblowing demonstration to launch Alden’s new company, Session Studios. A raffle to benefit underserved children through art-related activities. And a heartfelt thank-you to the friends, colleagues and VCU professors who supported Alden through challenging times.
It was 2015 when Alden graduated from the School of Business from the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship. During the next three years, he fell in love, traveled across the country for six months on a self-styled “art odyssey,” moved to France, came back to Richmond and “did the Bohemian starving artist thing, sleeping on a couch in my studio, questioning everything.”
Through it all, Alden kept thinking back to an exchange he had with the famous glass artist Dale Chihuly. “I asked him, ‘Through all your hardships, what kept you going?’ And Chihuly said, ‘It’s all about the people you surround yourself with.’ So, I am constantly striving to surround myself with nice, passionate, hard-working, dedicated people. Actually, none of this would have happened without the connections I made through VCU.
“I have always dreamed of starting my own business and being my own boss,” muses Alden. “Business is an art and there’s an art to business. You can flip them around. You should.” That explains why he created a large chandelier crafted entirely out of recycled glass to hang in his studio. Also why he then hired other specialized artists to build a custom coffee table and paint murals on the walls.
“That’s just the way I want to launch in the world. One of my biggest goals is to try to bring some sort of awareness about the way people interact with our planet and with each other. To plant seeds, to give opportunities. That’s how you start changing the world – through collaboration.”