Hi! I'm Gracen, the owner of Shophouse Studio Inc.
Shophouse is my way of saying HECK YES to all the amazing work you are doing in your neighborhood. I hope the tools in this boutique can provide some confidence and inspiration to keep going. It can be difficult and thankless work to clean up zoning code, repair a building, or run the local business that makes your neighborhood legendary. I see you. Thank you for pouring yourself into the place you love.
I started this company after having the great joy of meeting and learning from townmakers across North America for 6 years as a co-founder of the Incremental Development Alliance. In those years of growing a non-profit that trained local people to rebuild neighborhood essentials, I became closely acquainted with the barriers to small-scale city building. I personally met hundreds of people looking to strengthen their neighborhoods one small project at a time. As a designer of curriculum and educational experiences, I helped thousands more learn how to take the next step just by making use of what they had, where they were.
It would often start as small as a pop-up shop or backyard cottage, or giving new life to a building that needs love (all of which are STEP Cards!) but it would turn into a flywheel of neighborhood connection. I've seen with my own eyes the magic you cause in this world when you do small things with care and intention.
I moved on from IncDev to dive into Canadian housing work, but I couldn't stop designing learning tools in my free time. Whether it's photo essay Instagram stories or hand-drawn diagrams, I still love the challenge of finding approachable and engaging ways to share what I'm learning about cities, buildings, and the business of development.
So here we are! Shophouse is my way of serving the work of townmaking myself - as an apprentice, observer, participant, and your pal in the journey.
What about you? Please share what these tools are helping you accomplish in the place you love. If you're on Instagram, tag @shophouse.studio so I can see you in action.
Thanks for sharing your time with me,