Kevin (a.k.a., “RevKev”) Ewing is Founder of Grove Studios, now open for coworkers on Orange Street in New Haven in the building of the former space of The Grove coworking space, which is now on Chapel Street.
We talked with Kevin to get the story on the exciting launch of Grove Studios and to hear what’s next for the space. Serial entrepreneur and practitioner of a methodology of community organizing called “Building a Relational Culture,” Kevin is a former police officer, pastor and currently a board member of New Haven’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas, a commissioner with The City of New Haven Economic Development Commission and has been involved as a trainer and coach for leaders in several neighborhood and community organizations.
What is Grove Studios?
I like to think of The Studios as a “digital media content creation maker-space.” It is a space designed to gather and produce stories. Any story. It could be the story of your business and why your product or service is the best in the world. It could be a story meant to educate and inform. It could be a social justice awareness story. It can be a story about goblins and dragons. It can be any story you want people to hear or see. Fact or fiction or anything in between and beyond. We want to tell stories. And EVERYBODY has a story.
Why did you start Grove Studios?
The Grove Studios is an effort to capitalize on a great opportunity. Every day new businesses, new ideas, new industries, new ventures are launched and each has the need to tell their story. At the same time new outlets and technologies for getting out those messages are being developed. There are hundreds of people and businesses in our region working to help tell those stories. There are hundreds of thousands people, businesses and organizations in our region who want their story told. Often, they are not connecting with each other.
The Connecticut Office of Film, Television and Digital Media has over 300 production related businesses registered. They suspect that there are hundreds more individuals marketing themselves in some form of digital media production. Yet, we hear from business and organization leaders every day that they struggle to get their messages out. And though often the people working in digital media know each other there is no space dedicated to allow them to create in collaboration.
What has it been like for you to start this new venture, and what has it been like to start this in New Haven? Any advice for others taking on the monumental task of starting a new business?
I have several friends who say they want to go into business for themselves so that they can be the boss and do what they want . . . when they want . . . how they want. Boy, are they wrong! I’ve never worked so hard in my life! There are so many details and things that need your attention or they will never happen and your business will fail. And most of them have little to do with the purpose and mission of the business. It’s things you have to do just to get up and running. Setting up policies and processes, marketing and advertising, and so many other seemingly small details that, when they aren’t cared for, cost you tons of time and sometimes money. I used to be proud of the fact that at my age I had no grey hairs. I’ve got four in the year or so I’ve been working on this project. And I expect more before I’m done.
But with all its difficulties and stresses I can’t imagine doing anything else. As I tried to explain what we’re doing here to my mother she said, “You know, that sounds just like what you said you wanted to do when you were in high school.” So this has been a dream for several decades. It just had to wait until I got to New Haven to become real. I can’t imagine trying to do this in any other location. There is an energy and spirit in this city that is almost tangible. We are on the verge of turning New Haven into a real destination and I’m thrilled to be part of it. I want to be here to help tell the story.
What will Grove Studios offer members?
We’re building a space with private offices (currently occupied by businesses in the creative fields), a “hot desk” coworking space and conference rooms.
There will be a video studio, professional editing suites, editing/graphics machines and everything a member needs to produce high quality video. There will be audio editing stations to produce exciting podcasts or voiceovers. And, there will be a professional radio/recording studio ready to challenge your creativity and ingenuity. All of this is a “playground” for members who join The Grove Studios or get a joint membership with our sister coworking space, The Grove.
But that’s just the space. What happens in it is up to our members.
It sounds like you have a real vision for this space. Tell us what future success looks like for you and
the Grove Studios team.
I’m trying not to project too much of my desires or interests on what happens in the space because I want it to grow organically from the members. I want the place to be hopping 24/7. I want so much content to come out of the Studios that we need to invent new outlets to show it all.
Also, I’ve been part of producing three Emmy nominated projects in my career. I’d like to win a few. So I’ve kinda set an unofficial goal of getting 3 Emmys in 3 years. It’s more of a fun goal than a real one. I’m really interested in seeing people tell their stories. I’m hoping we put New Haven in general and the Ninth Square neighborhood on the map as the place to go for your innovation and artistic needs. The Grove Studios will be there to tell that story and many others.
What equipment do you have, and why would someone join now?
Not all of our equipment is in place yet. But that’s a good thing. Right now we mostly set up for coworking with wifi (and Ethernet), color printer/copier/scanner, Happy Life coffee and room for you to set up for your shoot. We plan to start purchasing the equipment later in June and into July. This means two incredible things for people who get in on the ground floor:
First, if you become a member now, you help determine what goes into the space. Trust me, you don’t want to leave it all up to me. Come tell me what you want.
Second, more critical than the equipment (which will be coming soon), The Grove Studios is missing its most important ingredient . . . people. We need the energy, spirit, and ideas filling up the space so that we can co-create what this space will be together.
So, because of that, we are opening our doors for coworking starting right now. For the month of June, if you are a current and squared up Grove member at ANY level, you can get a 10 day membership at The Grove Studios for only $45/month for the rest of 2014.
That means you get to use the space for coworking, meetings or just hanging out 10 days each month during regular business hours, and you also get 4 hours of Production Space (video/audio/radio studios, etc.), 3 hours usage of the conference rooms and event space, 20% discount on any additional hours needed in the space and bragging rights for being an original member.
And, to sweeten the deal even further, if you join in June, then for the rest of 2014 you can carry over any unused premium space hours into the next month (for a maximum total of 3 months worth of hours).
There are rules around the offer so interested Grove members should contact me for more information.
If you’re not a Grove member already and join in the month of June you get an automatic upgrade for the year. So if you join as a 10 Day member you get full-time access and benefits. And you also get to carry over any unused premium space hours into the next month.