Why I decided to start teaching workshops

PaperRoseCo Why Workshops

I'm both nervous and excited to open up seats for my very first workshop today. I had to get over some hangups—both logistically and mentally—before I was ready. But now that it's official, I'm beyond excited to get started with this new phase for Paper Rose Co. 

What took so long, and why now?

Ever since I first started appearing at markets with my flowers, I've been getting requests to teach others how I do what I do. It's something that's always appealed to me, but I also felt very overwhelmed by the task. I'm a perfectionist, so if I can't give something my all, I'm not going to do it. I kept putting it off thinking it would be something I'd be able to make more time to focus on down the road.

But that time never magically frees itself up, and even though I'm busy as ever, I'm becoming more aware (in my old age, now that I'm 40), that I'm not going to be able to physically make flowers forever. And then what? I'd love to know that I've passed on some of my learnings and my excitement for this art to other people. 

I recently read this article in the New York Times, Forget a Fast Car. Creativity Is the New Midlife Crisis Cure, and while most people seemed to get hung up on the fast-car part, I was more interested in everything else. It touches on the fact that many adults are turning to creative learning (like workshops!) in pursuit of a more meaningful life, or even to combat anxiety and depression. 

Some experts chalk up the goings-on to the do-it-yourself maker movement, which means that it is easier for older Americans to take up new activities. Others experience creativity as an outlet to combat anxiety and depression. Still more people want to bolster a flagging career or reinvent themselves.
— Laura M. Holson

Pair this with other research that says that being around flowers has been proven to lower stress levels and promote long-term happiness—I can't think of a better creative outlet. 

And really, I think it's important at any age to have a creative outlet or a hobby. As a business owner, I still look forward to the time I spend making—it's a retreat from the stressful parts of my life and I know it's something I can always turn to. 

I mean, I still have my anxieties (see: tornados, dentists, those ticks that make you allergic to cheeseburgers), but I'm a lot happier now that I have a hobby I enjoy. 

So more than anything, I'm looking forward to helping other people connect with their creative side, find a new hobby—whether that be paper flowers or not. In so many ways, it's changed my life. 

I bet you have questions—and here's what I'm guessing they are.

why in-person, hands-on workshops? Everything is online now.

When I first got my start with paper flowers, I couldn't find a lot of resources to help. That's drastically improved in the last few years, but what hasn't changed is the limited access to crepe paper and the fact that most ways people learn are by books or online tutorials. These methods work, but if you can't see the type of crepe paper you're getting until it arrives (sometimes weeks later from around the world), and if you can't figure out precisely what those tutorials are telling you to do, things get frustrating pretty quickly!

I'd much rather be there in person to work with you and show you the ropes that I spent many years figuring out. Like the differences between all of the types of crepe—let you see, feel, and test them out for yourself. Plus, I know it will be much more fun for you to learn techniques when I am there to show exactly how to do them. (Not to mention the encouragement and camaraderie you'll get along the way!)

Most importantly, there's something to be said for taking time out of our hectic lives, gathering with friends (or strangers), and having fun! We need to make time for fun!

Who is right for my workshops?

Anyone! At markets and pop-ups, I often hear things like "you must be such a patient person," and I always get a laugh. I'm an incredibly type-a, perfectionist, impatient person, but for some reason, this hobby helps me unwind. 

No really, what if I'm terrible at crafts?

The only thing I'll say is if you don't enjoy working with paper or scissors, then this isn't for you. Take the "I'm not good at…" out of the equation. Do you like making things? That's all you need for this class. 

My only stipulations are as follows:

My classes are not for children. The techniques I teach require (very) sharp scissors and dexterity. 

If you are looking for advice on how to run a paper flower business, this isn't the place for you. As a designer specializing in branding, I've spent the past 15 years helping clients build their businesses, and I spend a ton of time running my own. I'm great at it, but I do it out of necessity, not because it excites me. (That's what brought me to Paper Flowers in the first place!) I want the focus of these workshops to be on the craft, not the business. 

What if I want to sell flowers, can I still attend your workshops?

Sure! I've never taken a paper flower class, but I can't say that I never will someday. I got my start from kits that Martha Stewart made over a decade ago, and when I began my deep-dive into this world in 2016, I bought a few books, templates, and read as many articles about the history of the craft as I could find. We all start somewhere. 

Once I got to the point where people started asking to buy my flowers, I made a conscious decision that I would not sell flowers that used other artists' templates. That's not to say that the techniques I learned along the way haven't influenced the way I work, but over the years I've developed my methods and created my style.

As a professional artist and designer, I feel it's unethical to profit off of someone else's work. I hope that you take what you learn in my workshops and continue to hone and develop your own style. 

For more thoughts on this topic, I encourage everyone to read and consider the ideas presented in this post by Lise Silva Gomes.

What's up with Alexandria?

It may seem strange that my very first workshop is outside of the Richmond area, but the reasoning is somewhat poetic. Common Room Studio is a relatively new venture owned by my friend Nole, aka @beautifulpaper.

I met Nole through a client (and friend, Janice) when she was kind enough to invite me to the National Stationery Show back in 2015 to help with the annual party she hosts there every year. It was at the next year's conference that I met a couple of crepe paper contacts also attending the show—like Lia Griffith and Cartotecnica Rossi. And it was Nole, who posted the paper flower gift I sent her as a thank you, that landed me to my first paid customer. 

When I saw the announcement about Common Room Studio and the bright, collaborative studio workshop space she created, it felt like it was meant to be. (It just took me a few months to get it all together!). 

Many possible Richmond hosts have contacted me, and I'm planning on adding more courses as soon as I can. But for now, I'm so honored to get started at Common Room Studio. 

(Oh my word, Carrie, get on with it already!) 

Please join me!

This post took on a whole new purpose once I started writing, but I hope it sheds some light on why I take these workshops so seriously. Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing some snippets of what's going into the kits, and the guides I am creating. I've spent months sourcing my absolute favorite supplies I can assure you they are going to be amazing—I cannot wait to spoil every single person who joins me for this workshop! 

If you have any questions about the class that's open now or anything I've talked about here, please shoot me a note. Otherwise I hope to see you next month in Alexandria! 

Sign up now!