Creative Nourishment 17

The Makerie retreats offer an escape for creative souls

The chopped celery, carrots and potatoes strewn across the table were not for soup or a salad. In fact, they were not even in a kitchen. The produce stood in for paint brushes and palette knives in a workshop at The Makerie’s April retreat in Boulder.

At The Makerie’s creative retreats, materials of all kinds abound: fabric, paint, embroidery floss, yarn, rope and yes, even vegetables. You name it; someone is using it in one of the weekend’s workshop.

Creative, hands-on projects are the bread and butter of Makerie retreats, but the events offer much more than just craft time.

“We create an experience,” says The Makerie Founder Ali DeJohn. “It’s more than a creative class.”

Yoga, group hikes, a creative lounge, inspirational speakers and other self-care sessions create an all-around soul-nurturing experience.

Nurturing her own creativity originally inspired DeJohn to create The Makerie. After a long career in event planning, she chose to stay home with her young children.

“I’d always wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom, and I was so grateful that I could be,” she says. “But I didn’t realize that by only being a mom without my career, I would lose myself along the way.”

To reconnect with herself, DeJohn attended a creative retreat, where she was surrounded by like-minded people and immersed in approachable, creative projects.

“It was the first time since having my two babies that I remembered who I was,” she says. “I came home from the retreat filled up and so joyful. I had a new energy and felt like myself again.”

While DeJohn loved her retreat experience, she took mental notes about what she liked and how she could make it better. And when she couldn’t find a similar event in her hometown of Boulder, she gave herself one year to create it.

In 2011, the first Makerie retreat became that reality.

Now, The Makerie team organizes up to five events a year. While all Makerie events have a similar feeling, each one is different: Some have only a dozen people; some have up to 100. Many are in Colorado, but Makerie events have traveled to New York, Wisconsin and beyond. They’ve partnered with brands big and small (most notably, Sweet Paul Magazine and Crate and Barrel’s children’s brand The Land of Nod).

With more than 20 retreats under their belts, The Makerie team still genuinely enjoys the experience. For the group’s logistics coordinator, Krissa Bloom, it’s the connections — with oneself and with other makers — that make each event special. She loves meeting the guests who come from all over the world, and she emphasizes that “it is so important to take that time for yourself, let go and put all the worldly concerns behind, and get in touch with yourself to reconnect with things you love.”

For DeJohn, The Makerie goes further than the planned activities — it’s about the lasting effect.

“We send people back into the world feeling inspired,” she says. “And that creates a happier world.”

The Makerie DIY



  • muslin (for an all cream garland)
  • other material ideas
  • solid multi colors for a mixed color effect 
 by tying various colors together
  • patterned fabric for a feminine look
  • fabric scissors
  • a small board or cardboard to wrap your
 finished garland so it doesn’t get tangled


  • felt ball string – felt balls 
 (I got mine on Etsy); string; needle
  • tassels – yarn 
 (the loome is a great tool for making them)


  1. cut slits in the muslin at varying widths
  2. tear the muslin
  3. tie together & voila (it’s really that simple!)
  4. for fun variations, try hanging various 
accents from your main garland, such as a 
string of felt balls, tassels, individual letters to create words, etc.