Maker Profile: Cherry Pit Collective
Cherry Pit Collective is a communal studio space for artists, makers, and creatives, where the work and vision of women are emphasized and celebrated. The members work together to support and promote each other through a shared workspace and jointly share work, costs, benefits, and risks. Monthly programming includes classes and events for skill sharing within our community and to foster collaboration over competition. All are welcome to apply for studio spaces and to attend our events, but female-identifying artists and members of other marginalized communities will be prioritized.
Kelsey Pike, Sustainable Papercraft
Why did you started the Pit 2 years ago, and how did it come to be?
After graduating from the art institute, I struggled to find adequate studio space for my papermaking business. (I used my parent's garage for several years!) Then, I saw an article about all of the businesses getting ready to open at the intersection of 31st and Cherry, which was very near my apartment at the time. I contacted Maker Village, who said that they would have a space ready in about a year, but would want to rent the entire 1,500 square foot building to one tenant, rather than renting out parcels to various artists. So then, I started thinking and scheming with my good friend Adri Luna, about how we could make this work. We thought about the shared studio spaces we'd used at school, and decided to design a space and concept that combined the best parts of all of the spaces we'd experienced. We decided an open concept layout, with plenty of wall space for hanging things, was ideal, and the every member should be an equal participant in the work for the space, and have a hand in the decision making. Then, I did a ton of calculations to determine if it was financially feasible, and we pitched the idea casually to lots of our artist and maker friends, to see if it was a thing the'd be interested in. Thankfully, enough people said yes, so we went for it! The space still needed a rather expensive heating and cooling unit, so we decided to run a Kickstarter to raise the money, and to launch the studio. By the time we opened in August 2016, all of our studios we full!
What are your hopes for Cherry Pit in its coming days?
My hope is that the collective continues to grow its base of students who attend our classes and events. Our studio members have such great knowledge and skills, and we want to share that with other creatives in our community!
Tara Tonsor, Lost and Found Design
What has it been like to witness Cherry Pit's growth, having been a member since the start?
I witnessed Cherry Pit's growth as a member from the start the day the Kickstarter and fundraising began. I knew I was entering a professional environment when I met Kelsey, the director. I knew her as a maker at craft shows, but not until signing a contract, figuring out space, and seeing the potential space did it actually hit me how special this would be.
The growth has been in waves. Despite having a full studio, we did experience turnover of members early on...perhaps it is natural to have rotation with studio members, or the reality was that some members were transitioning in their lives as well. But within 6 months to a year, the studio vibe grew into a very strong and naturally supportive community. Like many phases, we might have had wobbly legs at first, but we all really stand strong today. I've grown as well– by realizing I needed more space, and Kelsey was accommodating to relocating and expanding my space within Cherry Pit as I grew into my studio.
There is a "vibe," if I can call it that, in the Collective, that feels very unique and special. Maybe the best word to describe is "supportive" - a real desire to listen to each other, recognize our strengths, open up to our potential, and identify our friendships through creative brainstorming and communicating.
And that supportive vibe took time and patience with each other to see our individual studio behavior as well as opportunity to collaborate which we do regularly.
And I think this support is what defines us at The Cherry Pit Collective. We are a Collective, not just studio space. And the Collective-ness is what makes me less of a witness, and more of a participant to our growth in our city.
Vanessa Wardy, BigCartel
For your social media job, why did you choose Cherry Pit over other more standardized co-working spaces?
I chose Cherry Pit because it just felt like a more natural fit for me and my personality. In my experience, I've found a lot of the standardized co-working spaces to be the opposite of what I desire in a work environment- or any environment for that matter. Many of them feel highly curated, very hip, and minimal- almost sterile- in my mind. I wanted a space that felt warm and inviting and lived in, a space that encourages community, actively supports its members, and connects with other community organizations on a regular basis. From day one, Cherry Pit covered all those bases and continues to make me feel at home in a new city.
Alyissa Johnson, Alyissa Letters
As a member without a studio, what are the benefits to that membership?
The benefit of having a squad membership to Cherry Pit Collective is the great creative community you get to be a part of. The fact that the studio is all women is a big plus, I love all the personalities I get to interact with and all the experiences and expertise everyone brings to the group. In addition, the space is great and has plenty of space to work without a personal studio space.
Sara Sellitto Travise, Sara Sellitto Ceramics
Why do do you appreciate the community here?
The community at the Cherry Pit Collective has helped me grow as an artist as well as a maker. I come from the gallery world. I know how to create a piece and connect to the gallery. The piece is then delivered to the gallery and my work is done. I wait for the sale.
I've now joined a collective of women makers that understand another side of being an artist/maker. The knowledge I have gained and support that has been extended is truly invaluable. The Cherry Pit has been and continues to be the think tank, inspiration, hang out, teaching school, and studio that was needed at this time in my art career.
Tara Fay, Peaches Vintage Collective
Talk me through your scouting process for the items you sell through your vintage shop, Peaches Collective– do you draw inspiration from fellow members at Cherry Pit?
Before I go out hunting and digging for fashion treasures I spend a lot of time researching current trends. Most of what is popular today Is inspired from the past. My goal while shopping is to find that original piece of what everyone is shopping for! I definitely find inspiration from all the ladies at the Cherry Pit. Everyone has their own unique style and I’m constantly picking out pieces that make me think of the girls! I try to market my product to everyone and keep in mind who my shopper is and what they wear on a daily basis. I strive to help people feel comfortable and confident in what they wear so they can stand out from everyone else.
Dayna Meyer, Cat Moth Crow
Where did your interest in zines begin? How did you get started in that world?
One of the best things about zine culture is that the barrier for entry is incredibly low: you can make a zine with nothing more than some paper, a glue stick, scissors and a sharpie. Because of this, you can find zines on practically every subject, no matter how esoteric or niche. The community is full of really dedicated, interesting and creative people, many of whom represent voices usually ignored by mainstream media. It is truly egalitarian. I adore it.
Zine culture has really exploded in Kansas City over the last five or so years. I've been lucky enough to get to help organize the annual Kansas City Zine Con, and seeing that event blossom into a nationally-attended extravaganza has been really fulfilling. I've also started teaching zine workshops in the city, and run a DIY-centric microblog. I want to help create a culture and community of, for and by zinesters.
Mackenzie Becker, Mack Becks
Many of your products are to draw awareness to a local charity, tell me more how you got involved with the Homeless Period Project and your inspiration for the jewelry designs that benefit that cause.
I initially designed the Uterus Earrings with the anticipation to donate to Planned Parenthood. After a month of designing & donating I began to befriend many feminist makers on Instagram. I came across Lydia Reeves, aka @pen_is_painting, a dope lady maker in Brighton, UK! She designs tampon bullet keychains with 10% of the the proceeds benefiting The Homeless Period Project! HPP provides menstrual products to those in need and seeks to end the stigma of menstruation in our society. I was instantly interested in the project and wanted to know how I could donate to the organization in my own city. I then learned that KC did not have a chapter location of the Homeless Period Project. At that moment I wanted to know more and applied our city to become a chapter of their greater organization in October of 2017. Since then I have become the Chapter Representative of the organization and have been spreading awareness through hosting community events and selling my Uterus Line of jewelry where 20% of the proceeds goes directly back to the project. Creating these designs has evolved from my beliefs in the restoration of dignity to all menstruating people and the deep importance of normalizing our periods to the general public.
Lily Dawson, Lily Dawson Designs
How has being part of a collective workspace changed your process?
When I set out to start my career as an artist I didn't realized how isolating it would be. If you think about it, you work alone in a studio space surrounded by your work. I did this for eight years and began noticing how unfulfilled I was at the lack of social interaction I would have throughout m work day. I joined the Cherry Pit in hopes to surround myself with other artists sharing space and community. My work feels much more stimulating and I feel supported daily in my personal and professional ventures thanks to the community that the Cherry Pit offers.