Youth in Arts is honored to have the support of many community partners, and we’re especially grateful to RileyStreet Art Supply.
Owners Mike and Sevastjana Roche are longtime arts supporters and have been working with Youth in Arts since their San Rafael store opened in 2007. Their main store is in Santa Rosa, which they bought more than 20 years ago. Mike also serves on the board of the National Art Materials Trade Association, which has an arts advocacy program.
RileyStreet gives Youth in Arts a generous discount for supplies we purchase for our school programs and donated art materials. We’re thankful to our individual donors, but sometimes there are materials we need to buy because of the number of students we serve.
Mike said he likes to support Youth in Arts because of the depth and scope of our work.
“Youth in Arts is genuinely there to support the arts in their own community, and even regionally,” he said. “It was the most complete organization I felt was out there that was supporting the arts.”
In 2017, Mike won Youth in Arts’ Pamela Levine Arts Education Leadership Award for helping families displaced by the North Bay fires. Through his suppliers and from his own donations, Mike gathered nearly $100,000 worth of art materials that was used to make kits for children in Sonoma County.
Mike generously gave half of the $1,000 Pamela Levine award back to Youth in Arts and spent the other half to thank his employees.
Those employees are part of what makes RileyStreet Art Supply so special. Nearly all of them are practicing artists or have art degrees, and their expertise is invaluable.
“I just don’t want to be a vending machine,” Mike said. “The store always wants to be involved in the community.”
What are some of the most popular sellers? Tubes of acrylic Titanium White, 2B and 4B pencils and black hardcover sketchbooks. The most unusual item he sells? Something called a popper, a toy that shoots a little ball out of its mouth.
Mike chuckles about the toy. Sure, it’s not really an art material, but RileyStreet likes to offer unique gift items that you might not find elsewhere.
“They make people happy,” he said.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought a few challenges. Both stores closed temporarily, but then reopened to curbside pickup. They were reorganized and streamlined before opening to walk-in traffic in June. Online business boomed during the closure.
Mike said it has been crucial to get supplies into the hands of customers. Professional artists needed supplies, and college students still needed materials to finish projects while distance learning.
“Art education is an extremely important part of our business,” he said. “We’re really in the business of people.”
Thanks, Mike and Sevastjana, for all you do!