Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiffany LaTrice.
Tiffany, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I honestly just kind of took a jump off of a cliff and somehow landed on my feet. TILA Studios was something I had been dreaming up when I decided to leave New York City in the summer of 2014. This business had been years in the making. And after quitting my second corporate job, I knew I had to take this leap of faith. It was November 2016 and I had just finished one of business planning classes with C4 Atlanta. One of the classes, out of the eight week intensive, was focused on finding a location for our respective businesses. I took the class so seriously that after each session, I decided to make a genuine connection with someone who can make my idea a reality. I did not spend class just jotting down ideas. I spent the following days after class meeting with accountants, lawyers, real-estate agents and just about anyone I could speak to that would help or lead me in the right direction.
I found a building located about a mile from my house. It was the perfect location – accessible to public transportation, brick building that is perfect for a gallery, high beautiful ceilings and large windows to welcome you. I was eager to see the space. I called the number on the window and while, the owner was not in town, someone was onsite to let me in. Once inside, I noticed the green walls, the carpeted floor. It looked like someone’s living room. To the average person, it might have looked like a hole in the wall that was not worth investing in. I saw it as an opportunity. I saw my vision right before my eyes. The next week, I was able to sit down with the owner and I energetically expressed my idea about starting a creative space for black women artists in Atlanta. Mind you, I had no money, just a lot of research, a lot of hope, and a lot of faith. I shared with him personal experiences about my own practice. I explained that black women did not have a space of their own to engage with each other, learn from each other and build their confidence. I wanted to fill that void and create a space for women by women.
The building owner nodded at me slowly and presented a challenge. He said, “I like your confidence, energy and charisma. I challenge you to host the next tri-cities networking event, make it an art show and fundraising event for your business… and oh… it needs to be done in two weeks. By the way, the space is already under contract, I just want to see if you can do it. There is no guarantee that I will give you the space.”
I was completely terrified yet energized by this challenge. If anyone knows me, I am up for the challenge. To me, I had nothing to lose, especially since I had no money. This was an opportunity to test my idea and in my ideal space. The next few weeks were hell. I did not have a business license, logo, social media presence… I had to build everything from scratch and make it look like the real thing while working early morning shifts at a coffee shop.
The event was magical, to say the least, and the rest is history. We got our start that night on December 15, 2016 when we greeted with over 300 people in the space and raised enough funds to start the business. TILA Studios has now been in business one full year and has served so many black women artists in Atlanta.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Ha! Well now that you know how I got started, you can only imagine the roadblocks I faced along the way. One of the biggest obstacles was my grand opening weekend in May 2017. I spent the whole first quarter of the year doing renovations, making major upgrades and created this elaborate marketing campaign about how I was destined to be the best creative co-working space for women artists in Atlanta. My goal was to have three to four events that previewed our programs and our upcoming exhibitions. I had envisioned all of Atlanta showing up at TILA Studios for our successful launch events. The day prior to our slated grand opening programs, I received about ten emails from the City of East Point informing me that I had not completed all of the necessary paperwork. For anyone that has started a business knows, or at least has become very familiar with, all of the paperwork to just open your front door. I was obviously clueless. Being such a newbie to entrepreneurship and running a brick and mortar, I had to swallow some major pride, shed a bunch of tears and announced publicly that our doors would not open that weekend. I had to refund tickets, cancel Eventbrite events, and notify all major media outlets of this news. It was one of the most valuable lessons I learned. I had to be ok with failure and see the loss as an opportunity to learn. I found that expressing humility with every facet of operating a business helps you move forward and see every obstacle objectively.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
TILA Studios empowers black women artists to create and showcase their art. Essentially, TILA is a visuals arts incubator that offers co-working space and shared gallery space to make your creative ideas a reality. We specialize in four artistic disciplines – painting and drawing, film, photography and literary arts. We are a hub for black women to gather and discuss their ideas freely.
We push our members to make their artistic visions a reality by encouraging them to produce exhibits in our gallery space. We host programs such as film study, open crit, literary crit, table reads to foster dialogue and to enhance our critical and analytical skills. We focus on connecting like-minded individuals that are serious about their artistic practice and want to take their career to the next level.
What sets us apart is that TILA is a physical space, we have space where black women can gather, which is critical. Also, we’re a niche market because we only black women, which is also critical. We’re not like other spaces simply because we are not afraid to be exclusive and intentional. Black women are and have been marginalized, especially in the art community. I wanted to create a space just for them to flourish and build relationships that will eventually outgrow TILA’s walls.
What were you like growing up?
Since I can remember, I have always been creative. When I was younger, I loved to build, make potions with my mother’s perfumes, draw and paint on EVERYTHING. I was unafraid, ruthless and bold. I think my free-spiritedness, unapologetic attitude, fearlessness was something that I carried with me and held close to my heart as I grew older. I’ve always defied the status quo because I believed that rules were meant to be broken. My brothers and sisters were your traditional siblings – athletes and super smart. My brother was a star athlete and my sister had the brains of Mae Jemison. I, on the other hand, was neither. So in high-school, after being extremely bored in advanced classes that I was forced to take, I used my free-period to take a painting course. I fell absolutely in love with the studio art. I loved the smell of paint and pastels. It was something about using my only bit of freedom to do what I knew I would love. That was liberating to me… to know that even if I had all of the time in the world, I would still choose a paintbrush and oil paints.
- Community ( weekly group sessions and art critiques – 1yr) – $132
- Workshops (technical classes plus weekly group discussions – 1yr)- $360
- Studio (all programs, 24 hr studio access, coaching – 1yr) – $780
- Address: 2835 Church Street, East Point, GA
- Website: tilastudios.com
- Phone: 917-548-3705
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: tila_studios
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TILAStudios/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/tila_studios
Ode 2 You Photography, Kaylin James, Sierra King