Inside the Shopify Partner Studio (And How You Can Apply for Round 2)

Inside the Shopify Partner Studio (And How You Can Apply for Round 2)

Shopify Partner StudioA designer, a web developer, and a content creator walk into a studio.

We know, it sounds like the start to a bad joke, but for the past three months it’s been a reality for six lucky creative professionals. After months of mentorship, collaboration, and coworking in industry-legend Jeffrey Zeldman’s New York City studio, the first-ever Shopify Partner Studio is now winding down.

And while our current Partner Studio residents are getting ready to graduate, we’re simultaneously starting to take applications for round two of the coworking experience.

If you enjoy self-directed work, have a project you’ve been itching to focus on, and love the idea of collaborating your brain off, the Shopify Partner Studio is your dream gig. The deadline to submit application is Friday, April 22 and residents will move in on May 2.

If you need a little more proof that this experience is worth your while, read on to learn what some of round one’s professionals have been up to for the past few months.

C is for collaboration

Before getting to the Shopify Partner Studio, Steven Chu was working multiple parts of the ecommerce puzzle, including design, branding, front-end development, and advertising. He’s worked on a number of online stores for clients from the fashion industry and used a large portion of his time in the Partner Studio revamping former Banana Republic Creative Director Marrissa Webb’s online store.

He landed the well-known fashion designer as a client after collaborating on a project with one of Webb’s former employees – one of the many times collaboration and word of mouth have worked in Chu’s favour.

It comes then as no surprise that he’s focused on furthering collaboration in the studio.

“Honestly, I’m always looking for people to collaborate with to build out a bigger team,” he explained.

Chu wants to build a strong team of collaborators who can come together for certain projects when needed. Part of that process is learning how to identify strengths in other creative professionals, and how best to divvy up projects.

“Collaboration is a way for me to take on more work,” Chu said. “That’s why I like being in this space, I want to push more and see what other people can do. How can I break projects down into chunks and say, ‘do you want to take this on?’”

Tag-teaming Shopify themes

Within days of arriving at the Partner Studio, Mark Perini and Ashley Livingston struck up a partnership, and are now deep into building a theme together for Shopify.

“Working from home as a freelancer can sometimes feel very isolating,” Livingston explained. “That’s part of the reason why this collaboration with Mark has been really great.”

A fulltime freelancer for little over a year now, Livingston got into web development after working with a few companies who did not have in-house developers. While building out ecommerce sites, Livingston simultaneously started blogging about freelancing, business, and design.

Her perspective is in part what informed her and Perini’s decision to build a theme aimed at online authors.

“We think there’s a space for authors, people that are doing content marketing or blogging, people who are trying to sell themselves,”Perini explained. “There was a space to fill, and we’re working together to fill it.”

A Shopify expert and longtime web developer and social media consultant, Perini says the fact he’s managed to meet and work with someone he would have never met otherwise, has made the studio experience unique and valuable.

“I think the cool thing is that my circle is different than her circle,” he explained. “The best blogger in my circle is different than the best blogger or author in her circle. So it’s cool to see us come together and exchange opinions, thoughts, and even problems.”

In tandem with his theme work, Perini has also used his time in the Partner Studio to work on pinpaper press, a site he’s integrating with a Pinterest app.

Mo' people, less problems

Freelance designer and developer Adham Foda kept busy during his stay at the Partner Studio, helping design, develop, and brand four different digital lookbooks for clothing lines out of collective Kid Super Studios. If that wasn’t enough, the Brooklyn-based designer and developer is also collaborating on a new commenting app.

Always an advocate for collaboration, Foda adds that his time in the Partner Studio has only made him more aware of how vital collaboration is – not only in terms of building strong business relationships, but also when simply getting shit done.

“Not everyone knows the Shopify language off the top of their head. That’s why the studio has been great, it’s like-minded people helping each other out,” Foda explained. “No one has the exact same skill set. Collaboration means you have time to work on what you do best, instead of everything.”

Collaboration has helped Ty Shaikh work more efficiently, too.

During the Partner Studio experience, the self-taught web designer and developer primarily focused on building the home decor site of a former IKEA designer.

Shaikh says bouncing new ideas off his Studio-mates and coworking alongside other professionals with more years of Shopify experience helped him learn about different tools and techniques he often hadn’t heard of before.

“The collaborative environment has expanded my knowledge of the Shopify development ecosystem and the feedback I received has already been used for one of my existing client projects.”

What to do to get into round 2

The Shopify Partner Studio is a co-working space where creative professionals from the ecommerce industry will come together to work on client projects, grow their technical skills, collaborate, and get shit done.

If selected for the studio, you’ll gain access to a number of opportunities to kickstart your business, including:

  • Free rent and high-speed Internet for three months in Jeffrey Zeldman’s Madison Ave. office.
  • Mentorship from Jeffrey Zeldman, Shopify executives, and other industry icons.
  • Fast-tracked access to the Shopify Experts Marketplace, where we send our 243,000 merchants looking for help with store, theme, and app builds.
  • A free Shopify store to build your portfolio website.
  • A free ticket to Smashing Conference NYC

Round two of the Shopify Partner Studio starts May 2, deadline to apply is Friday, April 22.

About the Author

Anastasia is the Editor of Shopify's Web Design and Development Blog. She’s a former journalist and freelancer, and loves chocolate stout beer.

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