Established in New York City in 1986 by Betty Williams, run from 1996 to present by Sarah Timberlake
Before it was known as Timberlake Studios, the construction group that built costumes for theatre, dance and opera was known as The Studio or simply, Studio.
Betty Vickery Williams, a theatrical costumer and garment researcher, was an influential founding member of Studio. Educated with a BA in English/Music from Jacksonville State University, and an MA in Theatre Arts from the University of North Carolina, Betty was active as a teacher and lecturer at many institutions, including the University of Illinois, New York University and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was cited by USITT for her encouragement of young designers, one of the parts of her life that gave her most happiness.
In its inception in 1964, Studio was more of an idea than a location. Costumes were constructed out of apartments belonging to Betty and other focused costume technicians. Sometimes a single costume would be split up - with the bodice being constructed in one apartment while the skirt would be put together in another.
Eventually Betty contracted her first big Broadway job, The Fantastics, which allowed her to give Studio a proper commercial space in the city. The first space was located on 14th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. In 1986 Betty moved The Studio to its current location - the junction of the fur, fashion and flower districts - Seventh Avenue between 28th and 29th Streets.
For forty years, her work with The Studio was seen in New York as well as nationally in regional and academic theatre. Betty was particularly proud of her long association with New York City Opera with productions like Cunning Little Vixen and her many years work with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.
In the 1970's, Betty found no effort was being made to save the commercial garment patterns and an important research source was being lost. Encouraged by the Smithsonian, she started a drive to save patterns. It developed into a nationwide network of women (once called "Betty's Brigade") that searched for patterns in attics, church bazaars and estate sales. This led to a collection of patterns called The Commercial Pattern Archive, together with tailoring magazines and sewing instruction material dating to the 19th Century. It is a major resource for theatre and fashion designers and a permanent record of one phase of women's lives for sociologists and historians.
Beginning work at The Studio in 1986, Sarah Timberlake was a protege for 10 years of the late Betty Williams. Sarah became Owner of The Studio in 1996, renaming the business Timberlake Studios, Inc.
Sarah started her career as a dancer studying in the Midwest. She holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and an MFA in Costume Technology from New York University. She performed semi-professionally with Atlantic Dance Company in Florida and was resident costume designer and taught Costuming for Dancers at Brenau University. Sarah was also on the faculty at the Fashion Institute of Technology specializing in the History of Menswear.