100 Braid St Studios: an interview with founder Susan L. Greig

After celebrating its five-year anniversary, founder Susan L. Greig reflects on her unlikely journey to the gallery

Susan Greig in her studio art Gallery. Courtesy of Record Files via Vancouver Courier

By: Yelin Gemma Lee, Peak Associate

On June 8, Susan L. Greig (Métis), the founder and owner of 100 Braid St. Studios, celebrated the gallery’s triumphant five-year anniversary. 100 Braid St. is a mixed gallery, studio, and private rental space. It is often used for special events — like First Saturday Open studios — where the public can see artists’ work and workspaces as well as host their own events. 

The gallery boasts high ceilings, cascading natural light, and a renovated space made almost entirely from reused and up-cycled materials — with the exception of floors, two toilets, and the sink! 100 Braid St. hosts monthly open mics (taking advantage of the impeccable acoustics), Paint & Sip Nights, and private events. In August, it will host the opening night for this year’s New Westminster Cultural Crawl. The main floor holds 16 studio spaces for resident artists. Since it took over the third floor of the building, the space is now a whopping 12,000 square feet with a total of 44 working art studios. The space is also used for more than just art, as 100 Braid St. transforms into a magical wedding venue and is available for private rental.

A story about 100 Braid St. Studios, however, is not done right if it doesn’t involve Greig’s personal journey of founding this beautiful gallery.

Susan Greig’s career did not start in the arts. She had 12 to 15 years of wedding and event planning experience under her belt when she switched careers to work for the BC Children’s Hospital. She worked as an advocate for patient and family centred care, in commemoration of her oldest daughter who passed away from a rare genetic disease, for 9 years before having to stop.

“We grew the whole program to have over 250 parent volunteers and it was really great, but then I saw a little girl that looked like my daughter, and I don’t remember the next four hours.” After devoting nearly a decade to this work, Greig was diagnosed with PTSD and resigned.

“I asked myself, ‘If I wasn’t afraid to fail, what would I do?’ [And my answer] was to create an arts community and to paint and write full-time,” says Greig.

She also emphasizes that running the studio is more than just a job or a source of income. “This may be my business, but first and foremost, my ‘why’ is to help people live lives of courage in harmony with their values through creativity,” she stresses.

Greig has been an artist since she was a child. Now, having created the multi-use artist space, she is looking forward to being able to put more time into her own projects — namely Moods of Mount Baker, a series of 36 paintings inspired by Hokusai’s concept of landscape series and a commentary on how Instagram has changed her life and her painting practice.

Before she started 100 Braid St Studios, she researched online to find a mentor and people who had already created what she was envisioning. Through this search, Greig discovered a woman in Chicago who had a store that had five studio spaces in the back for resident artists. She read a review for the store that really aligned with her values, and recalls how the reviewer expressed that seeing the artists working in their space, inspired them. Greig then had the idea for a passion project that would combine her love of art, writing, community, and wedding/event planning.

“I called the woman in Chicago who had this store, I asked her about 30 questions and she offered me some really great advice . . . I always tell people if you want to do something, find someone who is doing it successfully then just copy what they do. I didn’t listen to all of her advice, but . . . she was right about everything,” Greig says with a laugh.

When Greig started looking for a building, it was always going to be New Westminster.

“I had a studio with a friend down in Vancouver at the time, and I thought, you know what, I need to be here in New Westminster. This is where the arts are happening, it’s only going to grow from here and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Within the last five years, Greig has celebrated many triumphs, milestones, obstacles, and changes with 100 Braid St Studios, and she projects that it’s only going to keep getting better from here. Greig has not had an empty studio space for more than one or two months since opening the gallery’s doors in 2014, and is booking more events by the month. She’s also working on more community collaborations and strengthening her team of resident artists and staff.

“[Filling studio spaces] is not first come, first served — it’s about fit and diversity because we are truly a community,” says Greig. She adds that “there’s nothing [she] wanted more than to have music and art here, to have this as a community hub” and to “be surrounded by a community of creative people.”

“It’s been my dream for five years,” she concluded.

You can visit the gallery on the first Saturday of every month when they open their doors to the public for free or by attending events like their next Paint & Sip Nights ($40 per person) and their Open Mic Nights (on the first Monday of every month).

Find 100 Braid St. Studios on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @100braidst for updates on events, submission calls, and studio rentals.