Life in New York may seem glamorous when viewed on Instagram, but the reality is that even the most popular of influencers are dealing with the annoyances that come with simply living in the city: spaces that lack natural light, bathroom doors you can barely open and apartments that haven’t been upgraded since the Reagan administration.
For most New Yorkers, these are simply the quirks you have to put up with when you call NYC home. But for influencers who work out of their homes and shoot content there, they aren’t just irritations—they’re potential hindrances to doing business.
Village Marketing, an influencer marketing agency, wants to alleviate such blocks. In September, it opened Village Studio, a penthouse apartment in Soho transformed into a photo studio that’s ripe for Instagram.Vickie Segar, founder of Village Marketing, said the company was inspired to create the studio after seeing influencers struggle to find an aesthetically pleasing, natural light-heavy place to shoot.
“They were getting up and going to ABC Carpet and Home the second that it opened or renting out hotel rooms to try to get different design moments in the background of their shots,” Segar said. “We thought we should have a space that allows for them to come in, have these design moments and have privacy.”
Segar, who worked in advertising before launching Village Marketing in 2013, said she sees this as a natural progression from the days of renting out white-walled warehouses to stage shoots. “Now, the movement is that it’s really about putting your brand in the moments of your life and having a space that starts as a canvas,” she said.
Village Studio’s walls may still be white, but the vibe is decidedly homier. Wayfair outfitted and designed the space free of charge. The payoff for the brand, of course, is the exposure the space is already getting on the profiles of top-tier influencers who have started flocking there. The space is currently invite-only and is booked nearly every day, typically for three to six hours at time, Segar said. It’s also free for influencers to use.
Decked out in social-media-friendly millennial pink with gold accents, the penthouse is a dream home if there ever was one. Visitors enter the otherwise nondescript building on Houston Street and take the elevator straight to the top. When the doors open, they immediately walk into the studio, which on a sunny day especially is bathed in natural light. And that light, which streams in from windows all over the apartment, is perhaps the space’s biggest selling point. For an NYC-based influencer, natural light is a hot commodity.
Segar said they chose the space for the neighborhood—Soho is convenient and central to the fashion industry—as well as its natural character and modern updates. It’s in a 100-year-old building and boasts charming attributes like exposed brick walls but has clearly been updated for today, with a stainless steel kitchen and marble bathroom. Upstairs, there’s an equally well-decorated rooftop patio with a view of One World Trade Center.
Followers may start to notice several of their favorite influencers posing in the same space, but Segar said both the Village Marketing team and the influencers are sure not to claim the apartment is their apartment.
“No one is trying to pretend that this is their home,” Segar said, adding, “These influencers produce content. This is their job. They produce content all over the place, and they’re really honest about where they’re shooting.”
Because Village Studio’s design is already set, unlike a warehouse where you can build elaborate sets, Segar foresees redecorating the space from time to time to keep things fresh. What that will look like, whether it’s a complete refresh or switching out a few pieces, hasn’t yet been determined.
Segar said the studio has filled a void for many of Village Marketing’s influencers even though they weren’t necessarily asking for it. “It was less than the request from people, but more of a reaction of ‘This is exactly what we needed,'” she said.