(Photo by Lindsay Podraza)
There’s a new coworking space in Wilmington’s Creative District, and it exists thanks to an Instagram post.
Here’s how it all happened:
John Naughton saw an Instagram photo in 2014 of Jason Aviles, Flyogi founder, doing yoga in a Macy’s store. Naughton reached out to him on a hunch that Aviles would be a good health and wellness speaker for his annual breast cancer awareness event in Wilmington, which he organizes in memory of his mother.
They met at popular Riverfront restaurant Firestone to chat about the event (which Aviles did speak at) and have been friends ever since. They now live in apartments at Shipley Lofts, a downtown affordable option geared toward local artists (it’s also a stop at the city’s Art Loop on first Fridays).
The two come from different backgrounds: Naughton, 28, is from Wilmington’s west side and has his own residential and commercial painting company, Naughton Painting LLC.
Aviles, 31, moved to Wilmington from the Bronx in 2007 to escape what he called New York drama, and from 2011 to 2014, studied transcendental meditation at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa. He runs the Wilmington yoga studio Flyogi.
Different though they may be, the two share a love for helping others and building up their community.
At the end of 2014, Aviles was awarded a storefront on Ninth Street between Orange and Shipley streets for three months through the Delaware Economic Development Office’s Project Pop Up. In that time, Naughton painted the space for him, and they enjoyed using it to benefit the community, which included holding talks about wellness, spoken-word poetry slams, selling fresh-squeezed juices and holding a toy drive.
In November 2015, Naughton saw the chance to create another community space and bought 800 Tatnall St., a row house near Eighth Street.
Living amongst artists in Shipley Lofts, Naughton and Aviles had discovered their neighbors didn’t have many options for having their own workspaces and event locales, aside from their own cramped quarters.
“We go to artists’ houses, and they literally have hundreds of paintings in their living rooms,” Aviles said.
Deciding the row house could be a solution, they named it Artist Ave Station. The main floor features an elevated table for four in the center, and along the walls are spaces for five personal desks. The basement will have space for artists to actually work their craft, while above, Naughton is renting two studio apartments.
Artist Ave Station is less of a business venture for Naughton than it is a way to help local artists and the community. He and Aviles call each other “creative partners” instead of business partners.
“For us, it’s an opportunity to give people an opportunity,” Naughton said.
Before opening — they had a soft launch at New Year’s and just got their website up this week — they conferred with the folks from 1313 Innovation to get tips on running a coworking space.
Entry-level membership is $150 per month, and that includes access to the first floor and basement 24 hours a day, any open seat, WiFi, cable, printing and scanning, and one personal event a month. Platinum membership is $250 a month and includes personal storage space in the basement, a designated desk and wall space (Naughton said you can paint on the wall if you want) and a business address.
The two have already used the space to host a pop-up cooking class, a clothing drive and a mom’s group meeting. Naughton said they plan to become a regular stop on the Art Loop and feature art from a different artist each month. Right now they’ve got paintings up by Terrance Vann, Alim Smith and Smash Label, and Smash Label will be featured in the entire gallery space for the Feb. 5 Art Loop. Local artist James Wyatt is holding a paint night Feb. 6.
Naughton and Aviles also envision holding educational workshops for artists about behind-the-scenes stuff like properly doing taxes and how to sell artwork.
“The space is really open in a sense,” Aviles said, “where now we have a stage where we can invite people on to fill different needs and voids we see in the artist and creative community.”