“There is an inner artist in everyone!”
That’s the motto for Soozii Madden, founder and owner of Soozii’s QTZ, a crafting business most notable for making stained glass stepping stones. Her business started in the early 1990s with a line of greeting cards in Wisconsin grocer Woodman’s and local gift shops. Soozii’s QTZ expanded into stained glass stepping stones after Soozii took a couple classes on making them.
At first, she only made them for friends and family. All that changed when she gave a bunch of stained glass stepping stones to her parents who own a resort in Minocqua, Wisconsin. A tree service company saw the stones and placed an order for a bunch.
Things only expanded from there. Soozii would place her stepping stones in specialty boutiques like the Crafter’s Mall in the Wisconsin Dells. In fact, her items in the Dells was the reason for one fateful call.
A big conference for the Wisconsin Highway Association was happening at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells. One of the activities for the spouses of conference attendees was a 3-hour beading workshop. The day before the conference, the artisan scheduled to lead the workshop backed out, so the organizers scrambled to find a replacement. That’s when they saw Soozii’s QTZ at the Crafter’s Mall and picked up her business card.
“At first I thought this has got to be a hoax,” Soozii says. “It sounded too good to be true. I thought, what do I have to lose?”
Fifteen years later, Soozii is still teaching that workshop for that same conference. From her time there, she was recommended to teach crafts at other places. Today, she teaches for all manner of events including conferences, bridal showers, schools, and adult enrichment programs all over the state of Wisconsin.
“I’ve had wonderful opportunities,” she says. “I sometimes think, how did I get so lucky? If I wouldn’t have answered that phone for instance the day they called me about the Dells, I totally lucked out on that. And if I wasn’t in the Crafter’s Mall, I wouldn’t have gotten a call. It’s just how it all comes together.”
Meanwhile, Soozii maintains a regular inventory of her products to sell at specialty boutiques like the Crafter’s Mall in Wisconsin Dells. She sells online exclusively through WisconsinMade Artisan Collective.
“It’s been a wonderful thing for me,” Soozii says. “People have tried to get me on Etsy and I’m like, why would I? WisconsinMade does the marketing and has a wonderful website. That was an untapped area when you started. I will be forever thankful.”
She has been selling her stepping stones since WisconsinMade’s inception in 1999 when she saw a TV ad on a local news program. WisconsinMade seemed like a great opportunity to get onto a national marketplace. As the WisconsinMade team handles customer service and marketing, Soozii could focus her attention to what she does best: making stained glass stepping stones. Her one concern was whether we could pay for shipping her concrete stepping stones, but that went out the window once she heard that we ship ice cream across the country without it melting.
So she called up founder Linda Remeschatis and set up a meeting to show off her stepping stones. Soon after, they were being sold on WisconsinMade.
The life of an artisan is busy for Soozii. Between visiting family and teaching workshops across the state, it’s a wonder she has time for anything else. But she loves what she does and she wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“What inspires me most is my family,” Soozii says. “I’m super close with them, and I adore our grandkids.”
Her husband, Rocky, is extremely supportive of her business and often helps out whenever he can.
“He’s truly amazing and he’s always been supportive,” she says. “I could not ever do any of this without him.”
With how everything played out in her life, from selling on WisconsinMade to her supportive family to connecting with her workshop students, Soozii considers herself extremely lucky to do what she does.
“When people say they have a favorite day of the week, I love every day,” Soozii says. “Every day brings something different to me.”