After last week’s successful launch of the co-working/maker hub MakeWorks we had a chance to catch up with one of their tenants – Marissa Maislin and Michelle Organ of The Shop, Toronto’s newest makerspace.

What is The Shop Toronto?

Marissa: The Shop is Toronto’s first all-inclusive Makerspace. Members have access to a wood shop, metal shop and ceramics studio complete with kiln. In addition to open studio time, we also host a variety of workshops in these 3 mediums and any other creative subjects our members want to learn (such as weaving, silkscreening etc.). Workshops are taught by the two of us as well as local artists and craftspeople in the city. The third component to The Shop is a retail space in-house and online where members can sell their hand-made goods to the general public. These three components are represented in our motto: Make Learn Sell!

Tell us a bit about your background and how the idea for The Shop came to be.

Michelle: Marissa and I have been friends since kindergarten and have collaborated on projects for as long as we can remember. In University we went our separate ways – I went to Parson’s to study Industrial Design & Ceramics and Marissa went to Dalhousie to study Technical Scenography – but we both eventually ended up back here in Toronto. It was over dinner one night, years after graduating, that we realized we were both dissatisfied with our current jobs.

Marissa: I ended up in a Sales/Marketing position at a design firm and Michelle was working freelance. We both felt that what Toronto needed, and what WE needed, was access to tools and equipment to be able to realize our creative ideas and impulses.

Why was it important for you to start The Shop in Toronto?

Michelle: As graduates from creative programs we both knew first-hand the struggles of having access to workshops in school and then graduating and being cut-off from all of the resources we had become accustomed to. Once we began seriously looking into studio availability in the city we were shocked to learn how expensive and limited it is – and that’s not to mention the cost of tools on top of that! We felt it was important to create a space that breaks down the barrier of entry to creativity not only for art school grads, but for anyone who is interested in learning a new skill but feels intimidated or overwhelmed by the whole process.

What were your biggest struggles in getting this idea off the ground?

Marissa: In building out The Shop, our biggest struggle has been to raise capital to cover our start-up costs. With the cost of rent + tools and equipment, it has been quite a feat getting The Shop off the ground. We were lucky enough to be chosen to partake in a few loan and grant programs in the city, including CYBF and SheEO. The awareness of our space has spread so quickly through word of mouth and social media that we have also been lucky enough to receive some donated tools and have amazing volunteers who come help us out.

How can people get involved? What does your membership structure look like?

Marissa: People can get involved through memberships, classes and selling their wares online. All of the info can be found on our website www.theshoptoronto.ca. To break it down, our 1 month membership sells for $95, which gives you access to all of our tools, equipment and workspace, free wifi, a discount on workshops and classes, and first dibs on registration. We also have a drop-in pass for $25 which gives you access to all of our tools, equipment and workspace and free wifi for the day. Pricing for workshops and classes vary depending on the subject.

Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like to share?

Michelle: We just want to mention that as a new start-up, we are always interested in hearing from people about what they would like to see at The Shop in terms of workshops, classes, tools or any general suggestions. Our main goal is to create a space in Toronto where makers can come and feel at home collaborating with other people and creating awesome products.