Creative studio, New York photo room, Swift Studios opened – WWD
A forgotten Metrocard was the starting point for a new New York studio aimed at editors, stylists and influencers.
Erin Swift, who worked for Elle Decor and Architectural Digest earlier in her career while working as a set and prop stylist at Moonshine, said she left her Metrocard at her other store, The Prop Workshop, one night last year. When she came back to get it, she got out on the wrong floor of her building.
“I pressed the wrong button and the doors opened to the 13th floor (we’re on the 14th) and my brain started to create all kinds of possibilities,” said Swift. “I’ve dreamed of something like this for a long time.”
Shortly afterwards she met her friend Anna Livermore, founder of the fashion consultancy V. Mora, for a “pandemic training”, which began at Swift Studios.
The area is 12,000 square meters and offers six separate rooms for the inclusion of different product types such as fashion, lifestyle and bathroom. And it is now being combined with access to Swift’s Prop Workshop so the studio can offer a full prop store and be a “one-stop shop for brands and influencers”.
Livermore said that in her work as a consultant, mostly in fashion development and manufacturing, she was already working on “more post-production aspects … to make my clients more comfortable” when Swift came up with the studio idea.
“I saw the need for designers not only to have great production, but also great branding and content,” she said. “Adding a photo studio to the ways I can help designers was a breeze and makes a lot of sense during a particularly content-intensive time.”
That’s it. In the past five years, influencers have gone from advertiser curiosity to full business Model with members from micro to Megain relation to trailers. And, as a rule, influencers who sell products (often many in a single post or video) need a location other than their home or bedroom. As are other types of freelance creators doing branding or editorial work.
“There’s nothing like it in New York,” said Swift of the new studio. “We have the architecture and design of a fabulous house while also considering all the possibilities and details for a location.”
While filming costs vary by room, Livermore started booking weeks before the room officially opened with the COVID-19 logs in early March. There are also packages and brackets for the room. Swift called it “an inclusive SoHo home”.
As for the ongoing pandemic and why the two women are now opting for a fairly ambitious venture, both agreed that those circumstances allowed them to take their time to open the business and find out. It’s entirely self-funded, but Swift praised their landlord, Adam Justin of Justin Management, who worked with her and Livermore on an “nontraditional lease.”
“We were more lenient when it came to traditional methods,” added Livermore. “People were more open to thinking outside the box.”
The brands and companies that stayed afloat during the pandemic have seen a plethora of nontraditional leases. Physical retail, restaurants and offices have closed in major US cities and globallyProperty owners and managers are ready to rent space for a few weeks, months, or even just a year with flexible renewal options, and prices have come down. According to the National Association of Realtors, commercial property transactions were down 57 percent year-on-year at the end of 2020.
This seems to have left at least some before inflexible Commercial landlords in New York with a renewed interest in potentially riskier tenants who see the “pandemic economy” as an opportunity to pursue this passionate venture.
“I know from experience when we create something with the spirit of passion,” said Livermore, “money follows.”
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