Creative Community at the Maker’s Retreat

This was originally posted on the Academy of Handmade.

We are such fans of the community that Jessika Hepburn at Oh My! Handmade Goodness has created and were excited to hear about the Maker’s Retreat that she was putting on. Everything about it seemed dreamy and when we heard that Arianne of design firm Aeolidia had attended, we begged her for a download of all the thoughtful details!

From the Maker’s Retreat description:

OMHG is built on the belief that if we put our heads, hearts and hands to work we can make anything but if we put them to work together we can make a movement. Since 2010 we’ve been a place for the creative community to connect online, there are so many of us dedicated to making meaning it is time for us to gather up and pool our collective resources while throwing one heck of an amazing party!

We know that we do our best work when no one is the expert but everyone’s expertise is valued and openly shared. Have you ever gone to a workshop and just wanted to spend time really talking with the instructor? Or noticed the juiciest part of most events happens in hotel rooms or over dinner when ideas are thrown on the table and collaborations sparked? We all have unique talents and experiences to share and the power to do just about anything when we cooperate.

Arianne Foulks of AeolidiaQ: Introduce yourself and what you do and how long you’ve been doing it (especially your relationship to makers).

Hello, I’m Arianne! I run Aeolidia, a web and graphic design studio that has been working with creative handmakers and designers since 2004, helping them put their best foot forward online. I started out doing client work on my own, and now manage a team of 20, and spend my days improving processes, coming up with ideas, spreading the word about Aeolidia, teaching, and writing.

Q: How did you hear about Maker’s Retreat?

I’ve been contributing to the Oh My! Handmade blog for many years, and of course when Jessika suggested the retreat to me, I was all over it.

Q: Why did you decide to attend?

Getting out of the house and meeting makers always revitalizes me and sparks so many new ideas and connections that I can use to help our clients be all that they can be.

Q: Who is it good for (and who is it not)?

The Maker’s Retreat is good for anyone who is crafty and is interested in being a part of a maker community. If you’re only about the profit or the “hustle” and not about feeling the love of your work and making real connections, it’s not for you, but if you have a passion for making and supporting other makers, it will be revolutionary!

Q: What surprising information did you learn?

I don’t know that I ever felt truly surprised (it was more like being at home with “my people” and feeling in sync and understood), but I can say that I made a big change for myself when I got back home. We did a lot of creative “play” at the conference, dabbling between yarn dying, papier mache, needle felting, and more. There was no particular goal or purpose behind anything we did, and materials were readily available. I realized that I’ve been making my own quilting hobby difficult to do, hiding the sewing machine and supplies in a cabinet.

When I got home, I set up a table in an unused corner of our house (it’s a corner in a hallway that we walk by all the time, but seemed too small to be usable space) with my sewing machine, a basket of fabric scraps, and my most commonly-used tools. Now a hobby that had gone dormant is at my fingertips whenever I have a spare few minutes, and I’ve been having fun piecing things together without first making a complicated (daunting) plan for myself.

Oh My! Maker's Retreat

Our sweet little cabin in the woods

Oh My! Maker's Retreat

Christina and Karen dye yarn

Oh My! Maker's Retreat

Jessika and Christina make business plans

Q: What was the conference like (lessons? hands on? different speakers?)?

This year was the first Maker’s Retreat, and it was super small and intimate (just seven of us!), so it truly felt like a retreat. No performance anxiety when teaching, no struggling to remember peoples’ names, plenty of time for one-on-one and heart-to-heart conversations. We are making plans together for next years’ retreat, which will have more people but still retain the personal, comfortable feel.

The retreat was in the woods on the remote and beautiful rainforest island of Cortes on the Western coast of Canada. It was wet, wild, and windy. No importance was placed on fashion, gear, looks, or status, which I feel like some conferences geared to women devolve into. Instead we all got together as friends and allies and taught each other our skills, discussed improvements to our businesses, and sparked collaborations with each other.

Nothing was theoretical or presented as a talk – instead, we all dove in with our hands, created, shared, learned, and grew.

Q: What was the most valuable piece of information or experience?

The experience of being able to connect in person with people I knew on the internet, and cast aside being busy for a while, take the time to fool around, get to know each other, be silly, and forge real connections.

Q: Did you think it was worth the price (let us know the price ;))?

Worth the price and worth the travel! It took us a long car ride and three ferry trips to get to Cortes. The event was five days, cost $525 CDN, we paid the Hollyhock Centre for lodging and food, and once we were there we were completely taken care of, with three delicious gourmet vegetarian meals a day, a cozy cabin in the woods, hot tubs overlooking the beach, and a warm and friendly welcome by everyone at Hollyhock (the learning centre the retreat was held at).

Oh My! Maker's Retreat

Transportation to and from Cortes Island

Oh My! Maker's Retreat

Color matching with nature and mixing wool colors

Q: Where can people find your stuff?

I share advice, inspiration, and information for creative product-based businesses at our blog on We have a popular newsletter where we share tips and ideas for getting and keeping customers, and I’m @aeolidia on Instagram, which I’ve been enjoying quite a bit lately. I’d love to see some new folks coming over to say hi, so please check us out!


Read the original post on the Academy of Handmade blog.