Sixty-Five York Creative Studio: Where Small Businesses Find Strength in Numbers

Tanya Duffy and Zach Atkinson at Sixty-Five York
Tanya Duffy and Zach Atkinson at Sixty-Five York (Image: Cara Smith/Huddle Today)

Working from home with its endless distractions, or in coffee shops where you feel the need to buy another coffee every couple hours isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Sure, the freedom and flexibility are great, but what about when you want a creative, but productive atmosphere for getting work done without the constant noise of coffee machines and café chatter?

No one is more familiar with that dilemma than the founders of Sixty-Five York Creative Studio, a group of mostly freelancers who came up with a solution.

Tanya Duffy, owner of graphic and web design studio The Details Design, says everything started three and a half years ago when the group of like-minded creatives came together.

“We were often finding ourselves at the Cedar Tree and working beside each other and spending $20 a day. We always joked that we put them out of business when we got the office. It made sense for us all to get a space together,” Duffy says.

Duffy says she and Zach Atkinson, who manages The Capital Complex and Capital Arts Support, initially got together and found the industrial loft-style space because neither found working from home was meeting all their needs.

“We decided to go in with five or six of us in the beginning and we ended up working on a lot of the same projects together and offering a full boutique agency type of approach,” Duffy says.

Since many Sixty-Five York Creative Studio members offer different creative services, they’re often been able to collaborate on projects for clients or simply bounce ideas off each other when needed.

The space is now being used by Duffy and Atkinson along with freelance journalist and Goose Lane’s non-fiction acquisition editor Karen Pinchin; executive director of Connexion ARC Kasie Wilcox; University of Maine French professor Nicole Boudreau; and Penelope Stevens, who works with Atkinson and for FollyFest and the FeelsGood community.

“Our talents all complemented each other and what we were doing complemented each other so we were able to build off each others’ client bases and projects,” Duffy says.

“The theme of collaboration has been pretty strong since we do tend to both work together and not but I think that’s been one of the nice things about the studio, that you’re not working in a void.”

Pinchin says the space has been particularly useful to her.

“When I was writing from home, sometimes all you need is a bit of an environment with other humans to bounce ideas off of and if you’re having trouble with something, or just a friendly face in the morning,” Pinchin says.

“It can feel like a big investment, but for me, my productivity doubled when I came into this space. So I see it as an investment in my own business as a writer.”

Duffy says having a space where she can bring clients to meet in an actual meeting room, rather than at a coffee shop huddled around a laptop, adds legitimacy to her business.

“I’m not just some girl in my bedroom in Devon, which I was for six months,” she says. “Clients love it when they come in. They’re really into the space. They like the loft-y, kind of industrial stuff because they’re in government cubicles. For them, this is really fun and creative.”

Atkinson says the space is more than just a spot to rent, it offers a sense of community.

“The difference between a space where you go rent per hour and maybe the faces change often or there’s no real connection to it,” Atkinson says. “If you’re trying not to work at home and then you go work in a place like that, I could see sometimes you might just say ‘what’s the difference?’ ”

Sixty-Five York has become a place where small businesses can combine resources and collaborate to offer more to their clients.

“Our businesses feed off each other as opposed to a different face every day, somebody new that’s doing something random,” Duffy says. “That’s good for the individual but this is for our businesses to foster and grow together.”