There’s a new energy invigorating the Village of the Arts and it comes in the form of one of its newest businesses – World Piece, located at 1101 10th St. W.
This next-generation arts and wellness center is operated by a group of young entrepreneurs and co-founded by Keston J. Law and Killam T. Johnson, both Manatee High School graduates.
Law said it’s been a process trying to identify exactly what World Piece is because it’s so much more than a label.
“What’s important as to why I’m here is I have an earnest desire to help people and want others to take up that flag,” he said. “It’s not about me. I don’t want a World Piece dossier. I want it to be all people.”
World Piece offers massage therapy, an art gallery, homemade soaps, a nursery and an eclectic vibration of feel-good items and atmosphere. But that’s only the beginning of a master plan in the process of being created. Law said World Piece also is a community center where other artists and healers can come to talk, gather their thoughts and network.
“It’s like if Facebook was a real place,” Law said.
Johnson said there already is a sense of that in the village, but on a smaller scale, something he hopes to expand.
“When we were in high school we were all about wanting to do the right thing and help the world, but then as adults you go, ‘Whoa, that’s hard to do. How do we do that?’ There is a bigger concept,” Johnson said. “It starts with us. We are a piece of it.”
There are three licensed massage therapists. Chris Brown is the lead therapist and devoted himself to healing others after being temporarily paralyzed in 2004 when a car hit his motorcycle.
“From that point, I started taking my life and health more seriously,” said Brown, a graduate of the Sarasota School of Massage Therapy.
Brown said he joined World Piece because, “The concept takes root in what most people struggle with in not feeling your purpose or identity in the world. That’s where I was before the accident and had all kinds of jobs, but I chose this path. You choose your own level of involvement and we are just trying to meet you with an open heart and open ear.”
In what can be a crazy, hectic world, Brown said, “We just happen to be one of the beautiful things going on and we are the ones trying to share that with you. Now we have a beautiful place to open our arms to the world and let everyone in to enjoy it, too.”
Michael Fox also is a licensed massage therapist at World Piece.
“I’m just grateful to be a part of it,” Fox said. “I got into massage to help people and I have a place to call home with actual homies. It feels right, a place where I can give my energy and share that with people and not be part of some corporate machine.”
Nicole Stafford is World Piece’s other licensed massage therapist, but according to the four men, she is the heart and soul of World Piece.
“Nicole is a very special individual I met at SSMT,” Brown said. “Her heart is so big. She was diagnosed at 8 years old with a bad medical disease and she struggled with it and had no self identity. When I walked into school and saw her, I instantly knew she was a friend and someone I needed to know.”
Stafford’s educational accolades are impressive with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and physical therapy, “But she’s an energy worker, an energy healer,” Brown said. “She’s extremely passionate, welcoming and energetic. She makes people laugh and want to feel better.”
The group has big plans for the village. Law said they will do a community garden in what may be some unlikely places, including the small strips of grass between the roads and sidewalks. He understands those strips belong to the government, but he doesn’t think officials will mind if World Piece took it upon itself to make them look better and be useful.
“Appearances are very important, and it’s not like they are being maintained,” Law said. “And we want to grow food in unused places, beautify the village and make bees and people happy.”
So what exactly is World Piece other than massage, art, a nursery and garden services?
“Our motto is to find your ‘piece’ like a puzzle piece,” Law said. “Finding inner peace and what you have to offer. People say I’m crazy for coming back to Bradenton after going to New York on a music scholarship and traveling the world. This is a very special town in a very special part of Florida. I chose to be here. I know this place and I know I already live where people vacation. Why would you try to run?”