DIY MakersCon: What I Learned and Why You Must Go
IMG_1270.jpg

DIY Makers Con Recap

I spent the past weekend at the BEST conference ever! It was the highlight to my week and I’m still chatting everyone’s ear off about it who will listen. The DIY MakersCon was an inaugural DIY conference for women that celebrates, inspires and educates creative entrepreneurs, DIYers and makers of all levels.  It was a fun filled DIY day of making some really cool projects, shopping handmade goods in the market place and mingling and kiki-ing with other like-minded makers. I was in heaven. I made a candle, ate yummy goodies, connected with other badass women, got inspired from entrepreneurs, and gained invaluable skills. My hat goes off to the two creators – Terina Nicole Hill and Nneka Saran Mosely. The DIY MakersCon was so dope I’m looking forward to whatever else these two ladies have in store! Below, I’m chatting more about the conference, my takeaways and why we need more creative conferences like DIY MakersCon.

 

What to Expect

The conference was in Camden, NJ which is just outside of Philly. I rode the bus down and after a few snafus (i.e. missing my 6:00 a.m. bus and scrambling to hop on another)  I was on my way and rolling into Philly! I had no idea what to expect, but I was super hopeful. The morning kicked off with a breakfast and welcome from the hosts, which I missed, but my agenda told me so, haha. Then came the breakout sessions. The first two-hour breakout options included Fashion Upcycling, Jewelry Design and Woodworking. Workshop selections were chosen in advance with ticket purchase. Afterwards, lunch was provided during a two-part panel where we got to hear from creative entrepreneurs across a number of industries. The first panel, How To Make a Living Following Your Creative Passions, highlighted six entrepreneurs who shared their journeys of how they started their businesses, reached success and overcame challenges. The second panel, Elevate Your Brand focused on sharing insights to understand what a brand is, how to build a brand, and how to ensure you are adding value.  After lunch, two additional workshop breakouts followed. The first included: Candle Making and Furniture Upholstery and the remainder of the day participants could choose from Cookie Decorating, Painting and Sewing.

 

Why You Should Attend: My Takeaways

I was so blown away by the conference for multiple reasons. For starters I had a blast, okuurr! And secondly, I really learned something ya’ll! I walked away with real skills.   

Skills. Often times I have gone to conferences that were fun and inspirational, but left me desiring more. I appreciated that after the DIY MakersCon I literally walked away with real skills and knowledge which I can use to kickstart a new hobby, make gifts for friends and loved ones or even start a business. That alone is worth the cost of the conference and then some. The workshops were led by real artisans with plenty of years in the game who knew exactly the ins and outs of their craft. This was super helpful as I was able to ask all of my pesky questions about candle making from an expert.

  Learning how to up cycle pre loved fashions.

Learning how to up cycle pre loved fashions.

  A sweater and dresses transformed into a skirt.

A sweater and dresses transformed into a skirt.

  Makers building a side table.

Makers building a side table.

Network. I met a lot of other creatives too- gang, gang!  It’s always dope to meet like-minded women but even better when they’re crafty creatives like you. Let the craft hangouts begin! This was not just the attendees but the speakers and workshop facilitators too.  I discovered some pretty phenomenal creatives like Timisha of ToolBoxDivas who taught participants how to make a side table from a few pieces of wood, some screws and a drill. I met Corin Wright of ShoptSyleHaven who taught me how to make candles providing detailed resources, on not just how to make candles, but what to buy, and where. And then there was Jamila of Stitched With Style who led the sewing workshop where everyone made the cutest African print makeup bags.

  Cookie decorating underway.

Cookie decorating underway.

Fun! At the market place I was able to shop and explore all sorts of handmade goodies such as earrings, dresses, home goods, hair care and beauty products. I left with a bomb matte lippie that literally lasts all day.

  Learning how to tape off designs in the Paint workshop.

Learning how to tape off designs in the Paint workshop.

  Beautiful handmade jewelry at the marketplace.

Beautiful handmade jewelry at the marketplace.

DSC_0354.JPG

Mindfulness. Focusing on one task, such as decorating cookies or hammering brass for earrings gave the perfect opportunity to focus and to dismiss all of life’s distractions in today’s connected world. It felt great to zen out and give my attention to my craft project at hand. And it was really rewarding to walk away with something handmade.

 Fragrance oils and tools for candle making.

Fragrance oils and tools for candle making.

 Our candles waiting to cool and solidify.

Our candles waiting to cool and solidify.

Creative conferences like the DIYMakersCon are so necessary for makers of all skill levels and I hope there are many more to come!

 

5 Reasons to Take Yourself on a Retreat
BreatheBarbadosPoolandBall.JPG

 

 

Even though summer and the traditional vacation season is officially ending, that’s no reason to give up on self-care.  I recently went to Barbados on a five-day yoga retreat called #BreatheBarbados, held at the Crane Resort, with a group called Omnoire – a social wellness community for women of color.  It was my first time going on a retreat, but certainly not my last.  Four months later and I’m still breathing easier, feeling better and glowing.  Here are my top 5 reasons why every one needs to go on a retreat. 

1.    Learn or Start a New Practice 

Are you new to yoga or meditation?  A retreat could be a good way to experience either one for the first time (be sure to check the expected experience level/type or practice before booking), in a safe space with other like-minded people.  Starting a yoga or meditation habit provides a number of benefits.  Practicing yoga improves flexibility and strength, and meditation helps reduce anxiety and stress.  Don’t be afraid to push beyond your comfort zone.  You may return home with a new favorite move or a method you may not have otherwise discovered.

2.     Connect with New People

You never know who you might meet on a retreat!  I walked away with a few new friends, Instagram buddies and honorary aunties.  The energy among the group was kinetic and re-charging.  I interacted with women from all walks of life.  Be receptive to making new connections, and bring your authentic self with an open heart.  The point of a retreat is to be vulnerable and share intimate details about your life, which gives others power and encouragement to do the same.  The relationships made and lessons learned will stay with you long after the retreat has ended.

BreatheGroupPhoto.jpg

 3.     Refuel, Recharge, and Release

With so much going on in our lives, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself.  Because retreats are often in destinations removed from your everyday surroundings, they deliver the perfect escape from the daily hustle and bustle.  When you’re in paradise, it makes sense to stop and enjoy the natural beauty.  Retreats offer opportunity and freedom to disconnect and focus on you without the responsibility of your responsibilities.  I used my time in Barbados to reflect on the life I have, appreciate where I am and visualize where I want to be. 

 4.     Treat Yourself

When was the last time you did something nice just for you?  For me, this meant staying in a stunning resort.  The Crane was outside of my normal price range; it’s a secluded hotel on a hilltop with breathtaking ocean views.  Once there, I continued to treat myself - a cocktail, a catamaran cruise, sleeping in, you name it.  An occasion where I could be totally selfish!  Everyone needs an opportunity to treat yourself - because you’re worth it!

DSC_2481.jpg

 5.     Immerse Yourself in a New Culture

It can be fun and exhilarating to explore a new culture or customs.  Soak up the splendor of your surroundings!  Figure out why the locals speak with an accent, learn about the history, take a cooking class to understand the flavors behind your favorite local dishes, discover a hidden or cool hangout.  Traveling to different areas gives you new perspectives, and a deeper appreciation for the world.  You can find retreats for men and women, and for various interests.  But by all means - go!  You’ll be glad you did!     

d31d7c23-3297-4ddd-9bcf-d0163307d162.jpg
DIY Leather Envelope Wallet
Mini Wallets- Duo

I think I may have discovered my most useful DIY to date. I bought the supplies a few weeks before the holidays with the intention of making these as stocking stuffers for friends and family, but I liked it so much that I just made one for myself. I've been using it everyday since! Join in on the fun below! 

One critical tool needed is the template to cut out the envelope shape. I found a great download at the Alice and Lois blog. Enjoy!