Welcome, indeed! This is Studio.89, not your average café. As the wall behind us says, "ask us all the questions that you like. It's our favourite part!" So, we asked... A lot. ~ And here, you will find the answers.
Located in Canada, Mississauga, Studio.89 is a non-profit organization and community space. Once you see all the right keywords; organic, bird friendly, ethical, fair trade, coffee, and sandwiches, you'll want to be here too!
Co-founder of Studio.89 & Business Director
Tell us a bit about how Studio.89 started.
"Studio.89 is actually a project underneath the non-profit organization Youth Troopers for Global Awareness and we’ve been actively involved in the community for about 10 years. We host empowerment through the arts workshops for young people. Traditionally we would host some for other organizations in their space. But with all of our experience we try to recognize gaps within the community. The number one is the lack of free venues for non-profits. When we host fundraisers we would end up paying 75% of the cost for the venue through the fundraised fund and that doesn’t make any sense because you end up losing a couple 100 bucks... So, the lack of free venue was always important to us.
The lack of fair trade and organic goods within our community is important too, because we strongly believe that with every dollar you spend you’re casting a vote for the world that you want.
Also, the lack of free tools and resources for those who can't afford them or don’t have the means to be involved. Being able to recognize all of these gaps, we put together this two part model. Number one is a non-profit community space. Number two is a fair trade café where the revenues support all our non-profit and community functions. So, really it was just having a small group of people recognizing the gaps within our community and setting forth in this project."
How did Studio.89 grow?
"We are closing year 2 right now, this year we’ve had over 100% growth over last year where last year we hosted just about 250 events that were public and free to the community and we hosted about 6000 people and then this year we have over 450 events and we’ve hosted over 14000 people. So the growth has been really impressive.
And, that just recognizes and helps for us to understand that the community needs us.
And it really just speaks to that."
In terms of starting, what was an obstacle that you had to face?
“Funds! Getting funding for the space and having people understand what we were trying to do, because social enterprise was not existing in our local community, so when we would talk about a non-profit and having a revenue-generating arm then people are like that’s a business. But, no it’s not a business because the model is quite different.
Having people understand the terminology we were using at the time, this was 4 years ago, before fair trade was actually common or even being vegan was common. 4 years ago was a very different environment. And funding of course, because nobody funds renovations. Nobody funded start ups for non-profit organizations, because they weren’t familiar with it. Now you’re seeing that.
With the Ontario Trillium foundation, now they have funding for social enterprise. Now with the City of Mississauga they would be able to branch off and host funding for programming and culture related activities. A lot of what you are seeing in this space has been donated by various corporate organizations or community members.
As soon as we put a call out the community responded. And I think that is one of the best things that could have ever have happened to us.
What other events do you host?
“We do poetry slam, open-mics, just last Saturday there was a Heart and Soul event which was a fundraiser towards raising awareness for teenage anxiety and mental disabilities so they collected funds going towards therapy, and it was an art therapy night and then we had different workshops happening – over here they did painting, then they did clay work, movement and dance happening upstairs, and there was a band that played for few hours. It was just a wild mix of art forms.
Even on a smaller scale there are things like book clubs and documentary screenings or study groups. On a more academic level, there are tutoring sessions, we have meet-up groups that come in and code websites together, lifestyle and nutrition workshops. So many things that happen here.”
What’s your favourite memory here?
“There has been so many cool things that happened here! I think one of my favourite things that happened here was when we had an African drumming and dance session. So it was Saturday morning, first thing in the morning, we moved tables and moved everything outside.
This space had all kinds of African drums and dancing. It was just beautiful.
The neighbours hated us, we were so loud in here… We had people call us. But, it was just a blast!
And, also the fundraisers we do here. There was a girl, Fatima, she wanted to raise funds for Syrian refugees, so she held an art auction here and raised nearly 3000 dollars towards her cause. And we don’t get a cut of that, we just encourage people to purchase from the café in order to help us keep running but the beauty of it was that 100% of the funds went towards what she wanted."
In order to encourage more volunteers, what is your advice?
“Well, I would say recognize your passions. We have multiple different areas that one can volunteer in so it really just depends on what they are willing to commit to and what they are willing to dedicate their time to. We also offer 40 hours of community service for students if they are looking for hours. And even for the staff, we currently have 6 paid staff members and over 25 volunteers so its definitely a volunteer driven initiative.
Now time for us to explore and talk to everyone...
Upstairs, there are board games and a shoe-free area that feels like home.
Before the coming up New Year...
What are you grateful for in 2015?
MEET KEVIN & ZHILING
“It’s our first time here”
How do you like it?
Zhiling: “It’s very good!”
Have you ever been to a café that's similar?
Kevin: “Yes, it’s just a different feeling, Studio.89 is a less traditional coffee shop, the one that we have been to before is more classic… So, to combine many different cultures is different. This is more open, concept-wise.”
We introduced Kevin and Zhiling to our self-timing ways!
MEET SULAYMA & NIZAR
How often do you come here?
Sulayma: “Well, I volunteer here!”
Nizar: “I never come here, she brought me here.”
How do you like volunteering here?
“I love it!”
What is it that you do for Studio.89?
"Photography, special events, social media sometimes..."
How often do you come to Studio.89?
“I’d say maybe every two or three months.”
Did you participate in any events here?
“I’m actually doing a community event today! I’m not hosting it, but I’m part of this group, we are volunteers that do a social justice T.V. show with Rogers. Every week it’s a different theme for the show, right now we’re getting all the planning done so we can start filming right away.”
Take a look at Studio.89's free events calendar HERE.
You can also donate to Studio.89 HERE.