Stockist Spotlight: Rawspace, Toronto
GETTING TO KNOW OUR STOCKISTS
Maker’s Magazine is always finding new places to hang. Issue 2: The Morning is patiently waiting to be picked off the shelves of small shops run by people with big dreams - individuals who have diligently carved a path of their own - dreamers with stories worth sharing. In an effort to get to know the awesome people & shops stocking Maker’s Magazine, we’ve launched a Stockist Spotlight Series on the blog.
In today’s edition of Stockist Spotlight, we’re swinging by RAWspace, a studio, showroom & shop in Leslieville, Toronto. RAWspace proudly stocks 45+ Canadian makers (Maker's Magazine being one of them!), and is the studio space of in-house brand ALYSHAALEX. In an interview with co-owners Rochelle and Alysha, we chat about the founding of RAWspace, their mother-daughter bond, and what it’s like to be their own bosses.
How did RAWspace come to be? How did it transition from an idea to reality?
It was actually a spontaneous decision made on an outing to the Beaches in downtown Toronto, checking out an art installation. We came across a charming shop with a 'STORE for RENT - POP-UPS INVITED' sign in the window.
Alysha needed a studio space, Rochelle was looking for a project… and we thought “why not”?! Ten days later, contracts were signed, we got the keys to the shoppe, we registered the business, and RAWspace was born! One month later, with a lot of help from our friends, RAWspace was up and running and open to the public, with 2 dozen artists, and an 8-bench jewellery studio! Fast forward four months… RAWspace outgrew the Beaches pop-up concept and moved 'lock, stock and barrel' to our new home in Leslieville, to something a bit more permanent and accessible, with a roster of 45+ artists. The shoppe was born out of necessity and just took on a life of its own.
The mother-daughter bond is a special thing - how do you find that relationship strengthens your business?
We have always had an honest, open ‘speak your mind’ kind of relationship, built on a deep bond of love, trust, respect and admiration. This has served us well, considering that we have been working together almost 24/7 this past year and a half building RAWspace.
How do you find your experiences and skills balance one another?
It is sometimes a delicate balance...but for the most part we are very much in sync, have a similar aesthetic and sense of humor, think alike on most issues, and work welltogether. When we clash or don’t agree, we try to problem solve (Rochelle is a Child & Family therapist after all)!
Navigating the fine line between our mother/daughter relationship vs. business partners, can sometimes be a challenge, but we work hard at finding the balance. Perks: great company on the ride…
Aside from the shop, you’ve both been involved in the arts - can you tell us about that?
Alysha: The arts have always been a huge part of my life – Since I was a kid, I was always creating, painting, drawing, etc. (apparently I made my first crayon ‘drawing’ at 1 year old!) Not much changed when I got older - I have a background in Graphic Design, Painting, Photography and Holography, and graduated with a Bachelor of Design Degree in Jewellery and Metalsmithing in 2012. I launched my jewellery brand ALYSHAALEX shortly after. My background in Graphic Design has influenced the vision and ultimately the form and flow of many of my pieces; and it has also allowed me to design and create my own website and promotional material, as well as all online and offline material for RAWspace.
Rochelle: I discovered using art as therapy in the 1970s when I was working with children in The Middle East/Israel and needed to find a common language to communicate. Art was that language! I think that the process of being involved in art is always therapeutic and/or meaningful at some level, whether as a maker, an admirer, an educator, a client, a collector or patron, and I’ve always been a passionate advocate and supporter of handmade. I guess with RAWspace, everything that I learned, love and appreciate just fell into place.
Why is Canadian-made important to you?
There is so much talent in Canada. Unfortunately there are very limited opportunities for makers to showcase their work on an ongoing basis in a gallery and/or retail setting (as opposed to a market or event) in order to gain recognition and build their brand and business. We are proud and passionate advocates for Canadian products, (especially as Alysha is one of those talented Canadians – moms can say that!) and we believe that in an age of outsourcing just about everything…… MADE IN CANADA MATTERS!
What are the most rewarding aspects of running your own business?
Rochelle: Being your own boss means 'Your house, Your rules!' Planting the seeds and watching them grow… Making all of the choices and decisions - creative and administrative.
Alysha: Every day is something different – whether it’s facing new challenges, problem solving, meeting with past, present and future makers - there is always something to do, so we never get bored! We get to create the environment we want to work in, and we get to watch our business evolve. A big bonus - I get to make my own hours, and I never have to worry about being fired!
What insight can you offer to individuals interested in turning their hobby into a full-time?
Know that it is an uphill struggle for an indeterminate period of time, filled with lots of love, sweat and tears! Be prepared for long nights and longer days, and a huge financial investment…. and, the unexpected! Ensure you have a strong network of support to keep you going, and keep you sane. Ultimately, if it's something you love to do, and are passionate about, it will always be fulfilling, meaningful, valuable and worthwhile!
Shop the goods, meet the peeps:
RAWspace | 270 Carlaw Avenue #102, Toronto, ON