I Now Pronounce You, Life and Business Partners
Husband and wife team, Jeff Zhu and Jay Qin, began an entrepreneurial journey together in 2016 through commercialising a new innovative technology in the building materials space which replicates any image onto glass for both interior and exterior building projects.
“The interaction between function and design is a magical one, and a simple design can have a grand impact” explains Jay, one half of the dynamic duo who founded Visual Glass Tech in 2016, whose work has since won two categories in the 2019 Woollahra Design Excellence Awards.
The UNSW alumni couple began dating while studying distinct yet complementary degrees. Jay (Bachelor of Law & Science) and Jeff’s (Bachelor of Arts) relationship blossomed over library study sessions, campus hangs and the occasional (non-compulsory) lecture accompaniment. Jay and Jeff only ever enrolled in one course together throughout their time at UNSW, but that one Philosophy class proved their working compatibility.
Jeff recalls: “As we studied together, we saw how one another worked and tackled questions and problems. I think this was the first time we collaborated and probably laid the foundations that eventually led us to working together.”
A decade later, Jay and Jeff said their ‘I dos’ on a farm one hour outside of Sydney, but this wasn’t their first life-changing undertaking. Two years prior, the couple initiated an entrepreneurial journey in decorative glass design, and established their award-winning company, Visual Glass Tech.
Inspired by a Melbourne apartment boasting colourful frit glass on its balcony, the duo combined Jeff’s technical knowledge in building and construction, with Jay’s experience in legal and graphic design to deliver a glass solution that allows anyone to create beautiful graphics on flat glass; giving an instant ‘wow’ factor to any space.
On a mission to bring Sydney the same kind of vibrancy they experienced in Melbourne, Jay and Jeff deliver striking glass projects for residential kitchen splashbacks and various commercial fit outs. Earlier in the year, Jay and Jeff were involved in the refurbishment of heritage buildings located in Nielsen Park, Vaucluse. Through glass printing capabilities and features such as light control and privacy, the couple installed printed glass in the western toilet block and women’s eastern toilet block.
“It’s rewarding to be able to contribute to the preservation of such an iconic place with historical significance. We printed early black-and-white photos of families and friends enjoying the park (sourced from the National Archives) onto glass and installed as functional art pieces such as doors, shower screens and wall décor” says Jay. The project picked up two awards at the 2019 Woollahra Design Excellence Awards, winning both the Heritage category as well as People’s Choice.
Jeff and Jay credit their success to the many transferable skills and theories they learned through completing their University degrees. Jay recognises critical thinking, logical problem solving and tenacity as the most important learned skills, as “the entrepreneurial journey is not a straightforward one!”. Jeff acknowledges personnel management, communication and multiple business analysis tools as being extremely useful in running a business.
The couple admit that experiencing setbacks is all part of the process when establishing a business. Jay advises: “If you’re not getting enough ‘no’s’, then you’re not doing it right. Rejections are normal so don’t let them get you down!” Jeff adds. “Mistakes are almost guaranteed to be made, don’t be put down by it, learn and measure, then re-iterate your idea, rinse and repeat.”
As members of UNSW’s 310,000+ global alumni, Jay understands the importance of community, highlighting that “the support and synergies from communities are invaluable and good for your mental health, as running a business can be a bit lonely sometimes”. Jeff adds that “it is okay to rely on others. No one puts more pressure on you than yourself, and you tend to think that everyone is relying on you to have answers to all the problems. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, communicate as much as possible, even things that are hard to say or admit.”
Jay and Jeff encourage UNSW students and alumni to connect with them for any art project collaborations, you can visit their website for contact details.