Updated: Mar 13
Hi! Abby Phillips and Dorothy Collier here. We're the founders of Arrow Creative and we want to tell you about our journey to starting this amazing (if we do say so ourselves) organization. This project brings together our passions of creatives and the city of Memphis!
How We Got Here
I grew up in love with theater here in Memphis. In high school, I wanted to dive deeper into the art and moved to Interlochen Arts Academy, one of the top art schools in the country. I was inspired by being surrounded by students and teachers that were interested in the same level of art and expression as me.
I returned to Memphis after college, studying theater and film, and began working as a solo entrepreneur with my own talent agency for actors and models. While it was exciting to be working in the field I loved, it was incredibly isolating. I was consistently looking for community.
In 2012, with the support of clients and models from the talent agency, Memphis Fashion Week was born, which turned out to be a huge success from day one. The Memphis community was clearly seeking a connection in the fashion design industry. During year three of Memphis Fashion Week, I worked hard to cement a fashion design education program in Memphis College of Art, MCA. Having the chance to create an educational program for fashion designers in Memphis where they can learn, create and flourish was exciting not only for me, but for those artist as well. After six years of community education with MCA, the fashion design program has seen over 100 students come through the doors and is in its third year of a fashion design certificate program.
Needless to say, when MCA made the announcement of its closure I felt the art community, specifically all the work that was done with the community education program, slip away. From my fear for the end of a program came the spark of an idea to take what MCA had created with the community education program and run with it.
That’s when Dorothy Collier and I ran into each other in the middle of River Arts Fest in 2017 and decided something needed to be done.
My original excitement for building a bigger home for the Memphis creative community budded from many areas. I am an artist myself, creating oil paintings and products under Dorothy Art since 2010. I grew up with an artist as a mother, watching her sell her work through her own public-facing studio, in galleries and shows throughout middle Tennessee.
In early 2017, I co-founded the Memphis Chapter of Rising Tide Society, a group for creative entrepreneurs to come together once a month to receive free business education. The initial response within our community showed me that without a doubt the Memphis creative scene was in need of more resources.
I had a pop up shop October 2017 in downtown Memphis that surpassed my expectations and out sold my December of that year, which, in retail is huge. That confirmed my intuition that an artist’s studio space with walkable foot traffic, where the public can engage with and show within would work.
I interviewed Abby about Memphis Fashion Design Network, the co-working space on Flicker Street for designers, for my podcast, Positively Creative, in the summer of 2017. From then until October 2017 when Memphis College of Art announced their closing, Abby and I had many conversations in passing about how amazing it would be to have a space for artist’s studios with walkable foot traffic which I wanted to take a step further: adding micro retail space for growing business, a restaurant and offices for small creative businesses.
The idea of a creative resource center that could service Memphis creative was something that I could really get on board with. Combine Abby’s dream of creating a community that can thrive through collaboration and my dream of having public facing studio spaces, and the idea of Arrow Creative was born
Our Plans for Arrow Creative
Arrow works with entrepreneurs and community to provide accessible art making. Our concept unifies art and business, the creative entrepreneur and consumers. More than a building, program or studio space; Arrow is a one-roof creative district in the heart of Memphis including:
Studio Spaces with walkable foot traffic
Creative Community Education
Memberships and shared resources
Micro Retail and gathering spaces
Arrow seeks to make art more accessible in order to inspire the creative spirit in all Memphians. We strive to be a premier source of creative entrepreneur enrichment, arts education and art immersion for the entire community. Check back to learn more about all of the components that make Arrow so amazing!