Located in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri is a communal studio space for female Makers called the Cherry Pit Collective. The communal studio space was designed for artists, Makers, and creatives, where the work and vision of women are emphasized and celebrated. I recently spoke to the founder and director of the creative space, Kelsey Pike.
Kelsey is a papermaker, printmaker, and art teacher in Kansas City, Missouri. Through her business, Sustainable Paper+Craft, she creates fine handmade papers and custom and hand-carved rubber stamps. A graduate from the Kansas City Art Institute with a degree in Art history and minor in Printmaking, Kelsey has been in love with the art form of hand papermaking since she first tried it in 2010 during a Materials & Methods class at the school. Kelsey started up an Etsy shop at the end of that school year, initially a place to sell her handmade paper sketchbooks, but she decided to move forward selling loose paper sheets for artists.
After graduation and with no access to a paper studio, she saved all of her Etsy profits and graduation gifts to purchase her own hollander beater and studio equipment she still uses today. Kelsey had her equipment but was looking for one important thing… space. “I really missed the communal studios I was familiar with from art school,” Kelsey told me. “I saw an article online about Maker Village, a new community wood and metal shop, and contacted them to see if they might have space. They did, and loved the idea of artist studio spaces. I started forming and refining the idea with my friend, Adri Luna, while working with the landlords to design and build out the interior space.”
As her and Adri began the steps to design their space, one of their missions was to fill the studio with awesome, hard-working artists and Makers. “The first dozen happened to be female-identifying, which worked so well that we decided to intentionally move forward as an all-women’s space.” The Cherry Pit Collective became a space to work together, where their members support and promote each other. “We’ve found our members feel comfortable and safe while working, as well as relaxed and free to be ourselves, which can be challenging in male-centric workplaces.”
One of the obstacles the Cherry Pit encountered was finding the right balance of work between members. But as Kelsey elaborated, they grew to find that balance. “As members have grown to know and trust one another and feel autonomy and agency, it has been increasingly easy to divide tasks based on personal interests and skills. Our members handle all aspects of managing our collective, including cleaning, promotional work, class programming, event coordination, and member recruitment.”
The Cherry Pit has also filled an important aspect for artists and Makers and that’s networking. “Some of us have been running our businesses for a decade while others are just starting out,” Kelsey noted of the Cherry Pit. “Fresh perspectives help seasoned Makers view things from a new angle, and established artists freely offer up advice.” A community built of members with varying skill levels and backgrounds, the Cherry Pit members encourages each other to try new things, share unique specialties and support each other.
An exposed brick warehouse building, skylight and solar panels on the roof, with a huge glass facade and open windows for fresh air and breezes, the Cherry Pit is a Makers studio dream. Members have unlimited access with their own keys and alarm codes. Studio spaces start at $120 per month, with 3-month commitment minimums and offer open plan studios ranging from 30 to 200 square feet with squad memberships available for as low as $25 month. If you are interested in joining the Cherry Pit Collective visit their website. Be part of a vibrant and creative community built of members with varying skill levels and backgrounds who share their unique specialties and encourage one another.