Are Collaborative Spaces the Next Big Thing in Retail

  Collaborative Spaces and Retail

Are collaborative spaces the next big thing? Emerging designer focused retailer Young & Able recently developed Series, a short-term holiday pop-up launching this winter that focuses on fostering an environment for makers which will include educational programming.

Home and lifestyle retailer West Elm continues to connect with young entrepreneurs through their West Elm Local initiatives by building assortments from regional designers and allowing these vendors to share their brand story. They've also introduced their small business grant program and have portfolio reviews at stores throughout the country. 

These initiatives show that fostering the local environment is key towards building communities and giving new talent access to  gain exposure they need to build their brand. It also encourages active conversation between the retailer, designer and customer, ultimately bringing together like-minded people that share the same beliefs and not just providing a transactional experience.

Karina Kallio, designer of childrenswear label Kallio is developing a retail space with a purpose. To do this, she's launched a Kickstarter campaign to help bring the Kallio Workshop to life in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood. The premise of the concept is based off of the brand's mission which includes local, sustainable sourcing and production; she takes gently worn men's shirts to create each design. There's also the community component that led to the development of the space.

Not only will the workshop be a physical manifestation of Kallio's values, but will also serve as the brand's headquarters. Part of the space will be allocated to designer pop-ups featuring apparel, jewelry, home and other purposeful categories. Throughout the year, they plan to host workshops where artists and designers can share sustainable design techniques from a range of topics including food styling, photography and urban gardening.

We spoke with Karina to learn more about the Kallio Workshop:

Why build a collaborative space versus a regular retail store?

By creating a collaborative space it encourages creative conversation between designers/artists and the customers around the product including the vision and process that led to the design. The workshop further displays the clever solutions that have to be considered to create beautiful and conscious design in a tactile manner that really resonates. A regular retail store showcases the finished product only and rarely tells the whole story.

Are there any models that you've seen that work this way?

It is really the concept of mixed use spaces that inspired the Kallio Workshop, such as Freeman's Sporting Goods which mixes tailored and casual menswear with a barber shop to compliment and support one another creating a sartorial lifestyle brand.
Our mission is to provide you with simple and beautiful ways to engage in conscious design and living. It was through careful consideration of our brand mission that lead to the different modes of engagement that make up the Kallio Workshop.

Why go beyond fashion?

It goes back to our mission. It's about simple and beautiful ways to engage in conscious design and living, not just the clothes we wear. It is about looking at the world that we live in as a full picture not just little facets here and there. For example, learning about slow food movement principles really piqued my interest to learn more about how I could incorporate those driving forces into my work as a fashion designer.

What do you think it will provide to the Williamsburg community? .

Williamsburg is changing at such a rapid rate. It is so vibrant and energetic. As a resident of the area for the last 8 years I see how divided this area is becoming. I love the diversity in the neighborhood and want to help maintain it by offering a bridge between the old residents and the new residents.
Do you feel that designers want and need this type of environment?
We are offering an affordable yet well located site where consciously minded designers are able to tell their stories not only through their finished designs but to fully express their visions. It allows them to tell their whole story rather than edited sound bites.
What are some of the benefits of this model?
They will get to know and build relationship directly with their customers which leads to immediate feedback on their designs. If the so desire they will be able to share their skill and demonstrate their area of expertise within conscious and sustainable design.

Learn more about Kallio, their WorkSHOP on Kickstarter and those interested in participating should email


Emerging Designer or have a resource to share? Please feel free to contact us at