Eye on Business: Studio Mooi celebrates creativity and community for participants of all ages

Tanya Todd celebrates arts, creativity and community at Studio Mooi at 926 Kingston Rd. in the Kingston Road Village. Photo by Ahmed Dirie.


From crochet to calligraphy and everything in between, the owner of Studio Mooi in the Kingston Road Village, Tanya Todd, has fostered a nurturing environment for artists across a range of ages, disciplines and experiences.

Launched this past November and located at 926 Kingston Rd. between Willow and Silver Birch avenues, its name is derived from the Dutch adjective for beautiful, lovely and delightful.

The arts and crafts studio stands out for its colourful exterior and unique itinerary including Studio Mooi’s monthly UFO workshop. Short for unfinished objects, the UFO workshop captures the freeform ambience of both arts and crafts as well as the studio itself and encourages its patrons to bring in incomplete projects to finish on their terms.

With much of the necessary tools, coffee and/or tea and freshly baked banana bread courtesy of Todd’s husband provided, UFO classes attract a wide array of artists including crocheters, knitters, a leather worker and even a woman who dyes her own fabric using plants from her garden.

“It’s just a nice way for people to connect with other creative people in the community,” said Todd. “It’s just great because you kind of get to see what other people are doing in the space where conversations kind of organically happen.”

A drama and music teacher by trade hailing from Richmond Hill, Todd left Toronto when her husband landed a job in France and spent 14 years abroad including stints in Amsterdam and New Jersey before returning and settling on Kingswood Road.

The studio’s proximity to both her residence and children’s school is what caused her to jump to sign the lease when the space became available.

“I really wanted to just have it all at once,” said Todd.

“I wanted my kids to be able to walk from school to come and see me. I didn’t want to be stuck somewhere where I couldn’t be part of their lives. But part of it is to see them every day. I don’t want to be at a studio where I’d come home at night and they’d be in bed already. Because I went from being a stay-at-home mom to being a full-time business owner, it was really important. And just walking and getting to know the neighbourhood beforehand, I knew that this was a community that I wanted to be a part of.”

Not only does the studio provide a serene area for artists to connect and congregate, it is a safe space where they can unwind and get away from the stress of their daily lives or for those who might be somewhat introverted to express themselves.

“The idea behind the spaces is really to foster a community,” said Todd. “And it’s great for people who also are a little bit quieter or reserved.”

Having experienced how difficult it was to make friends while abroad, particularly before she had the natural segue of children, Todd wanted to establish a space where like-minded artisans could meet each other.

“It’s really hard to meet people,” said Todd.

“I know that because even being from Toronto, and coming back because people lived here their whole life have their friends, or circles. They aren’t being rude. It’s just that they’ve already had an established set of friends and social network. Whereas if you’re sort of new, how do you find your people?”

While Studio Mooi’s patrons skew more female, the space is open to all and will even be offering a children’s summer camp from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday starting in July.

Todd said that she wanted to incorporate her experiences travelling and experiencing new cultures into the camp’s curriculum followed by an end-of-week party to commemorate their accomplishments.

“It’s a full day camp and the idea is every week is a different country,” said Todd. “The kids come and they learn a little bit about the culture and then we dive right into the arts and crafts of that culture.”

Through their art, the children will experience Mexico, Rome, India, Japan and more, she said.

Not only is it a great opportunity for the children to expand their horizons, said Todd, they will associate the positive experiences at the camp with the country of origin with the hopes of fostering diversity and an acceptance of different cultures and peoples.

“As a teacher of high school students, you want to give them the knowledge, but you’ve got to sneak it in so that it’s in a fun way because people are engaged,” she said.
Since she opened, Todd said she has felt the support from the community, her staff and family.

She said and she sees the growth of Studio Mooi as strong and she plans to remain a fixture in the Kingston Road Village for years to come.

“I always think there’s two mindsets when you start a business,” said Todd. “It’s either you surround yourself with money to be successful, or you surround yourself with people who are going to be your champions. And that’s kind of the route that I’ve taken. I try to find people who I know are going to be my champion, and I would do the same.”

“That has helped me build and grow,” she continued. “All the women who teach here have been super supportive and have been part of this journey. Some of them from the very beginning who didn’t even know there was going to be a space but just said, ‘Yes’. And then my husband, same thing. I was his champion for a very long time. So I think it’s important to surround yourself with such people.”

Registration is now open for the Studio Mooi summer camp with the first class scheduled for July 3.

To learn more about the different programs at Studio Mooi, as well as to register for the summer camp, please visit visit https://www.studiomooi.ca/

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