A glass plaque to success. . .Gweru man makes customised glass works to capture moments
Patrick Chitumba,Midlands Bureau Chief
WHAT started as a simple idea for a Gweru-based young man to inspire others has now turned into a money-making business.
Over the past year, Antony Chard (21) also known as Junior developed an obsession with making products that help inspire people through storytelling colour-changing coffee mugs, customised glass plaques, t-shirts, and caps among other products.
The Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) second-year Information Technology student said he brings the feeling of surprise and admiration that sparks the imagination.
“I am a Gweru-based entrepreneur who ventured into the design and printing industry. The name of the brand is Chard Prints and the products available are customizable glass plaques, t-shirts, colour-changing mugs, and key holders. What’s really different about the work I do is the customisable glass plaques. A glass plaque is a glass that showcases a message or recognition of something important to someone,” he said.
Chard said as an IT student, he felt he had to start being productive and make some extra cash for himself.
“The idea of having customisable glass plaques for my clients started at the end of August. The other services like t-shirt printing were all running but the problem was that I was a small fish in a very big pond at that moment. There are many companies in Gweru which have been running for years in the printing business.
I constantly asked myself how I could flourish in the industry and that’s when I realised introducing something different, something people rarely see will be the way I finally get the push start I had been hoping for. The idea came together after days of research on DIY (do it yourself) projects,” said Chard.
He said it took a lot of trial and error for him to make the perfect glass plaque.
“I got feedback from a few of my peers that they love the idea and that’s when I decided to look for a market for my work and it all unfolded well,” said Chard.
Explaining how he makes the glass plaques, he said: “Firstly, a customer comes to me with what they want on the plaque. Usually, customers want customised Spotify music glass plaques. The customised Spotify music glass plaques basically have a picture of the person or a representation of anything else, a song of their choice is picked, and once a song is picked I generate a Spotify code which works similarly to the QR code system. A Spotify code is a code that is scanned by anyone with the Spotify app and the song that was chosen will automatically display.”
Secondly, Chard said after being given the requirements by the customer he uses Adobe Photoshop to design the layout of the glass plaque.
“Thirdly, depending on the size the customer ordered I get a glass, the sizes I work with are A4 and A5. After the glass process, I go to a carpenter so he can attach a stand to the glass plaque. I do this so that once the product is finished the customer can display the plaque in their home rather than just place it somewhere where it can be easily broken,” he said.
He cuts the design with a machine called a cutter and prints the picture on vinyl. For the final touch-up, he said he makes sure to clean the glass.
“Materials I use for the whole process are glass, solid wood, and vinyl,” said Chard.
His trade name Chard Prints has grown a large online audience with the help of Instagram advertising.
“What I did to make sure I have a large target audience was to work with the Instagram ads service. How this works is that you enter all your specifications like age range, target gender, city, and how long the ad should run. I boosted one of my Instagram posts and I managed to get an audience of 18 777 people, 112 saves and 61 reshares. It all came with a price to boost the posts.
“I have clients not only in Gweru but Harare, Bulawayo, and South Africa. The A4 glass plaque goes for US$15 including the stand and the A5 glass plaque is US$10 (+US$2 for a stand). I have also done wedding invitation glass plaques and this is an example of something different and exciting I can make,” said Chard.
He said he can afford to buy himself clothes and other things to make his college life comfortable.
“I had to think outside the box, I had to make practical examples or products from the IT I do at CUT.
It’s all about theory and practicality and making money from education. President Mnangagwa is on record calling on us students to be productive and make money,” said Chard.