01/2002 – Christopher Radko

January 2002

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PGF honors Christopher Radko. Mr. Radko’s company is a wonderful example of the success that is found , often by accident, when an individual focuses on the needs of his family.

As Mr. Radko’s biography shows, his insight into marrying tradition, family and artistry has brightened the homes of many and brought success to cottage industry craftspeople. We wish Mr. Radko continued success in his endeavors.

Excerpt from the Christopher Radko Biography:

For most people, starting a business is a process that requires years of planning and intensive market analysis. For Christopher Radko, now the head of a company that bears his name, developing a multi-million dollar business in Christmas home furnishings was literally an accident.

Christopher, who at age 38 is celebrating fourteen years in business, designs and produces a brilliant line of fine glass Christmas ornaments, garlands and figures depicting everything from the very traditional to the very whimsical. His designs inspire joy and awaken the spiritual significance of the holiday, and, best of all, serve as special mementos of a family’s
holiday celebrations.

In 1983, Christopher decided that his family’s old, rusted tree stand had served long enough and replaced it with a gleaming stainless steel, contemporary model. The family complied and put their 14-foot tree in the new stand. As was common to their tradition, the collection of 2,000 hand-made, mouth-blown glass ornaments was carefully unwrapped and placed on the tree – a process that usually took several days.

Then, one week before Christmas, the tranquility of the household and the bubbling holiday spirit were shattered by a loud crash.

“With sudden and resounding finality, it seemed that the door that linked me and my family to the memories of Christmases past had slammed shut. We were devastated.”

Christopher thought he would never be forgiven and made it his personal quest to restore the heirloom collection. The next summer, while visiting distant cousins in Poland, he began to look for glass ornaments but found nothing. He decided instead to find a glass blower who could make the ornaments, but that was difficult as well. While the glass workshops produced vases and stemware, no one was producing Christmas decorations in June.

After finally locating and working with a craftsman, Christopher sketched some old traditional ornament shapes that had not been used since before the war, and had several dozen ornaments produced to take home to his family. The ornaments never made it to the tree. Instead, his friends purchased all of them. On the next trip abroad, he brought back more ornaments and those sold out as well.

At that point, he realized that he truly had something unique. Most ornaments sold in the United States in the early `80’s were made out of synthetic materials including plastic and Styrofoam, mass produced in countries that didn’t celebrate Christmas, and were of flimsy quality. Nothing approached the treasures his family had collected for four generations. While working for a talent agency, he used his lunch hours and weekends to show samples in stores in New York City. By his second year, he had $75,000 in sales – more than he was earning in his talent agency job. The rest is history.

Sixteen years and over 7,000 designs later, Christopher Radko’s 2000 collection includes more than 1,200 designs, with retail prices ranging from $15 to $100. From the lone glassblower who made his first ornaments, more than 3,000 people now work in cottage factories in Poland, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic producing Christopher Radko ornaments. Instead of going door to door to sell his products, Christopher today has 3,000 accounts, including the venerable retail giants, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Marshall Fields and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Christopher’s artistry has been featured in the White House, the Vice President’s residence, the Governor’s residence in Connecticut, Woodlawn Plantation and Gracie Mansion, official residence of the mayor of New York. Well-known collectors include Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg, Katharine Hepburn, Robert DeNiro, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver.
For more information, visit the Radko Collection on-line.

Information contained herein is a compilation of various news, internet sources as well as the Radko website.

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