Meet Tina Villaveces of Yellow Studio
Finding community is imperative when you move to Westchester. However, it isn’t always easy to find “your people” when you have young kids and a whole pandemic to deal with. Tina Villaveces, however, pivoted during this time after her family moved to Pound Ridge, and created a beautiful community for women in all phases of their lives. With a background in arts administration, Tina was longing to do something else in the next phase of her life and had an idea for a co-working studio/arts’ community that all came together when she visited Yellow Monkey Village in Cross River. With tears welling in her eyes, she realized that “it (Yellow Monkey Village) just felt like me.”
Within a few months, Yellow Studio was opened in June of 2022. Through this open and welcoming community, women can co-work in this beautiful and bright yellow office space and enjoy its alternative art gallery that features local artists and NYC-based artists. Tina also hosts curated events and workshops where women can connect, learn, and explore. She also has a residency program where artists of all mediums can apply to work on their craft. Incredibly, this is just the start of what’s to come as Yellow Studio is less than a year old. Read on to learn more about the space, Tina, and how this idea came together.
Westchester Family: How did the idea of Yellow Studio come about?
Tina Villaveces: It all started with a conversation with a friend when I was deciding what to do after giving birth to my second child. Professionally, I worked as a registrar at contemporary art gallery in the city. Then, I pivoted where I was deciding between museum education or classroom teaching. I was interning at the Whitney in the education department but at the same time I was an Elementary School substitute teacher. I loved it but I always tried to find ways to weave art and art history into the curriculum.
We moved to Westchester in November of 2020. Originally, I thought it was going to be a second home, but I quickly realized this is where I wanted to be. We had been thinking about moving but then the pandemic made us run.
I think the pandemic made us all a little more thoughtful of how we are spending our time. I also knew that I wasn’t a stay-at-home mom and wanted to do something. No jobs were really feeling like I could justify my time away from the kids so I started doing a little substitute teaching, and it felt like I was doing something but was my heart in it?
Then, I got a job in development at the Aldrich Museum. I also had the idea for Yellow Studio but I thought it would take a lot longer to get off the ground and find a space I could afford. I wandered into the Yellow Monkey Village, and the whole building was empty because the owner was going to sell it or rent it. There were enough of us (all women-owned businesses) who approached the owner about renting it and she took it off the market.
Westchester Family: Tell us about seeing the space and how you opened.
Tina Villaveces: When I first came here and saw it, I felt tears well in my eyes because it just felt like me. It was bittersweet, too, because the idea was so new and I had no idea how I could make this happen but I really wanted this space. I started here in March of 2022 and we opened on June 27th 2022.
Westchester Family: What did you do to market and connect with local women about Yellow Studio?
Tina Villaveces: I knew getting people into the space was the most important thing. I also love attending workshops and classes that don’t have a big commitment, so facilitating that was important to me. In the beginning, I wanted to offer a wide-range of events with book talks featuring local authors and different art classes like a figure drawing workshop. I listened to what other people wanted and the ideas were amazing.
Westchester Family: The events and workshop are awesome! And you have co-working and the artist in residency program! What other ideas are you looking for at Yellow Studio for 2023?
Tina Villaveces: For 2023, I’m trying to find the balance between NYC and local artists. I am currently on the Board of the Katonah Museum Artists’ Association and excited to meet more local artists.
Artists are also submitting their work to me and asking if they can do a show here. In the past, I worked at galleries that didn’t accept submissions. Everything had to be so perfect and at times that could. be toxic,
Now I can support artists in a way that is right for me and the community. It’s so flattering that they are starting to approach me. At Yellow Studio, it’s ok not to be perfect and to experiment, and be human. It’s a beautiful community. Everyone is so inspiring and creative. I just love supporting artists and women and their businesses.
Westchester Family: Tell us about some of your events/partnerships.
Tina Villaveces: The vibe is generally beautiful and magical. Even something like our women in business talk, which might not sound magical. But it was! During the event, people are sharing what they’ve gone through and what works for them and didn’t. It was so relatable and helpful. I find that people generally want to help each other and not hide anything.
We also have a yellow residency program that I always encourage people to apply. The program runs from one-three months that supports all creative modalities. This includes art-making, writing, app-developing, poetry-making, graphic designing, screenwriting, and more. My goal is that the shared studio space will foster creativity, collaboration and connection.
For 2023, I’m here for everything. I love connecting and supporting people who are trying what to do next, or who are stay-at-home moms but they are looking for something else. I want to help them. We recently had an Illustration Show that featured five illustrators, a holiday Happy Hour, and author talks. Coming up we have a Pop-Up and Breakfast with Hanesie Founder, Ellie Haney, a Photography Workshop with Jen Mullowney, and a Pilates Fusion and Gratitude Workshop with Lauren Chiarello Mika, to name a few events. We also offer member-only events every month.
Westchester Family: What are some new things you are trying to grow the business?
Tina Villaveces: Yes! I was at a breakfast with our member, Lauren Schwarzfeld at Fran Hauser‘s house. Fran is also a member. I had to share something that I was excited about and something I need help with. I told everyone that I wasn’t pushy/salesy enough. I think this place (Yellow Studio) speaks for itself so I’m not telling people you have to join. During the breakfast, though, we talked about action-items for the business like starting a crowd-funding campaign. It is scary to ask people for money, but also I want to sustain and grow the business even more.
Westchester Family: How does membership at Yellow Studio work?
Tina Villaveces: In the beginning, I offered more levels but I paired them down to two options. We offer an all-access membership for $200/month. This gives the guest unlimited co-working office space access from Monday-Friday (9-5pm) as well as discounts on events, access to member-only events, free parking, a monthly member breakfast, discount on content events, and more.
We also have a social membership for $85/month, which provides all of the same event perks but with only three days of co-working per month. This works for a lot of people who only need co-working options every now and again. Members can pick their spot on the website or walk in. I tell everyone this is your home during the week from 9-5. We also have a call room with noise-cancelling headphones and people can bring food. We offer water, coffee, and tea. Members can also enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch at 02, right across the lawn.
Westchester Family: How did the name of Yellow Studio come about?
Tina Villaveces: Everyone thinks my favorite color is yellow. It is not. Orange is my favorite color. My initial idea was to call it The Studio. I felt like it was an inviting word. But then when I found the space, I wanted to incorporate yellow into the name.
It really feels like a community that people are happy to be a part of. I love seeing women exchange contact information, or women who say see you tomorrow. The experience here is not just to experience on-off moments; people are building real relationships.
Westchester Family: What are some of your favorite things to do in Westchester?
Tina Villaveces: We have memberships at the Stamford Nature Center. We love the playground and the farm. We also love the Stepping Stones Museum. Our town park and pools are so nice. The Pound Ridge pool feels like a country club at a fraction of the cost so we spend a lot of time there. We love Hayfields. It feels like an experience.
My older son loves to hide in the bushes and play with the rocks; it’s just so beautiful. We are also still in the playground phase of life where we like to check out local playgrounds and parks. We recently discovered Blind Charlie’s, a cute diner in Pound Ridge that we go to almost every weekend. I love how it feels like a community spot and people know your name (and we know theirs). I also love all of the fairs in the community like the Fine Day Fair, the Pound Ridge Harvest Day Festival, and the Lewisboro Library Fair. No matter what you do, you really do feel as if you are part of something. It seems to be the (vibe up here.
Yellow Studio Details
792 NY-35 2nd Floor
Cross River, NY 10518
More info on membership.