Q&A with Ali Dejohn

the Makerie

Do you ever feel like you have no time for you? No time away from technology? No time to be creative just because? Maybe you should consider taking a creative weekend getaway just for you — that is what the Makerie is all about. We caught up with Ali Dejohn, creator of the Makerie, to ask a few questions about the weekend. Want to be a part of it? For more information visit their website.

What inspired you to start the Makerie?
When I look back, I can honestly say this journey began when a seed was planted at my adorable pre-school. All of the children were given amazing opportunities to endlessly explore their creativity and every creation was encouraged and celebrated. Everyone was an artist! These are the earliest and most precious memories I have of falling in love with making things with my hands.  After a rewarding career in event planning, marketing and print production, including 7+ years with the Chicago Marathon, I turned my attention inward to our family and became a stay at home mom. As much I loved being home with little ones, I also missed a part of the career woman I used to be. I became entranced by the blogging world and found inspiration everywhere and noticed an art retreat pop up on the various blogs I followed and this little voice told me to go. For the first time in a long time, I listened and I went to Squam Art Workshops in New Hampshire, despite those other doubtful whispers that told me I wasn’t really an artist and didn’t belong there. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I came home with genuine friends, a new loving community, a huge amount of inspiration and a renewed spirit. I had found myself again, which I hadn’t even realized I had lost along the way. I felt empowered, full of ideas and adopted a new attitude that anything was possible.

Upon my return home, all I wanted to do was share this magical experience with everyone I loved. I searched and searched for a creative retreat closer to home and when I came up empty, I decided to start our version in the majestic mountains of Colorado. I wanted to create a place like my pre-school where anyone could be an artist and provide a place where people could step out of their fast-paced, everyday lives, leave technology behind for a few days and reconnect with themselves. I envisioned not only a beautiful, natural setting and venue that took great care of the environment, but a weekend filled with wonderful creative workshops designed for anyone, yoga classes, hiking and healthy local food so each person who came would feel nurtured, accepted and loved at every turn. The power of connection through artistic pursuits in community and with yourself leaves a lasting effect, far beyond the precious days spent at the retreat and I can attest to this 110%. It is in this spirit that the idea of the Makerie came to be and I wanted to pay the gift I was given forward.

I have always been a dreamer, and probably always will be. I hold the utmost admiration for people who follow their dreams, and have often dreamed of being one of those people myself. I’m learning how to listen to my intuition and am realizing that anything is possible if you follow your heart. There is always a way. Creating this retreat (along with the incredible support, help, ideas, thoughts, advice and feedback from those I love and admire) is a dream come true for me and if I can, in any way, inspire others to go after their dreams too, than this is what the Makerie is all about.

What are your hopes for the attendees? What should they look forward to gaining from the creative weekend?
My hope for attendees is that they find the Makerie to be a loving, safe place to explore their creativity, an experience empowered by a community of like-minded souls and they find the magic of re-connecting with themselves in a beautiful, peaceful setting.

Attendees should look forward to emerging from the weekend with an abundance of inspiration, wonderful new creative skills, a rejuvenated spirit and a new community of loving, supportive people.

What is some of the feedback you have received from participants?
Every once in a while, something happens to you that can only be described as magic. Yes, yes. It might seem strange to describe a crafty weekend in Boulder as ‘magic,’ but it really, really was. What made the weekend so amazing was how I felt while there, and how I still feel. More than ever before, I felt connected to a community of truly brilliant people, to my friends, to my family, to myself. — Katherine Skene, Canada

What has emerged this past week is a remarkable thing. It is a beautiful young sapling that has emerged… and will continue to take root and grow as we return again and again to bask in the fierce shade that it will cast as we learn to bring our true selves to this magical experience called The Makerie. — Jenny Doh, California, Crescendoh

Winning the Makerie scholarship was not just a weekend in Boulder, eating delicious food, learning new skills, relaxing under the stars; it was an opportunity to share my heart and heal the friction inside me. I am so grateful and blessed I was able to be part of such a magical experience. — Sara Guiffre, Colorado

Words and even the 100+ photos that I uploaded cannot express this past weekend at the Makerie in Boulder, Colorado. It was beyond wonderful. I thought it would be fun to take some cool classes in another city, but I had no idea how emotionally charged, inspiring, relaxing, energizing, exhausting and full of wonder the weekend would be. — Karyn Valino, Canada the Workroom

One of the really special things about the weekend was experiencing it all with my mom. She originally came along to support me and for us to spend time together, but she ended up discovering something inside herself too. She doesn’t consider herself an artist, but when you take a look at her work below I think it’s clear that she is! I hope she goes with it and explores this side of herself more. I had so much fun creating beside her. I think it’s cool that my paint covered hands now appear next to the words “a weekend to play” when you first open The Makerie website, because that was my biggest take-away. I learned that I could create art simply because it gave me joy. I do not need to worry about it being marketable or “good enough.” It was an honor to be a part of The Makerie’s inaugural year. — Katie Obrecht, Colorado Obrecht Family Blog

You know how it goes when it comes to retreats… It is so hard to justify the expenses, leave the kids, husband, push work deadlines, etc, just to go to Art Camp. At middle age…. God forbid! Not to mention having to show up alone, just as you are, with a suitcase full of art supplies, camera gear and old dreams. Not one bit easy, I know. Who has the luxury, right? But let me tell you… It is so worth it. The inspiration, creativity, sense of community, camaraderie… All the new friendships. So so worth it… So much beauty in one place and event, my heart can barely take it! — Alessandra, Alessandra Cave, California

What is your favorite part of the weekend? What is the most fulfilling moment for you?
This is an easy one! At the end of last year’s retreat, we held a closing ceremony where everyone went around the room and shared one word about what the Makerie weekend meant to them. There was so much love in that room and such a powerful ending to the retreat that I will carry with me the rest of my life.

The workshops range from crochet to photography to letterpress — why such variety?
Creativity can be shared in so many ways that we wanted to offer a wide variety of artistic opportunities that appealed to different people at every level. This retreat is for anyone who wants to be creative! Yes, even the people who claim they aren’t creative. Everyone is creative if they are just given the time, the space & a loving hand to guide them.

What role does exercise have in the weekend?
We offer two morning yoga classes and group hiking, as we strive to nurture the mind, body & spirit for each person who attends. Hosting the event at Colorado Chautauqua at the base of the Flatirons lends itself beautifully to both of these activities.

If someone isn’t quite sure if the creative weekend is right for them, what advice do you have?
First, please call me! I love person to person conversations and would love to share my own creative retreat experience. If you are someone who is needing a weekend to play (you’ll feel like a kid again!), the desire to add more creativity into your life, the chance to meet and be surrounded by people who are craving the same thing, and a weekend to nurture your soul, than the Makerie could be for you!

Images courtesy of the Makerie, Teryn Wilkes, the workroom and Linda Winski.