A workshop, a meet-up, a class, an experience? I’m not sure what to exactly call this series of events across four weeks hosted by her-people but I would say it was a culmination of all four and it created meaningful connections.
I signed up for the Toronto workshop not knowing anything about who would be conducting the events, where they would be held or even the people behind the idea. Which for me is pretty scary. I am not an online shopper or an impulse buyer but damn – this Instagram ad got me. The words “connect & create” so simple yet so motivating. Did I want to connect with other women in the city? Yes. Did I want to create with my hands? Yes. It was as if this experience was exactly what I was looking for – meeting women from different backgrounds and getting crafty.
The first day finally arrived and I was pretty excited to learn we would be watercolouring. Something I’d done very briefly in my A-levels and learned instantly I should stick to acrylics. Nevertheless, I was just looking to have fun and create meaningful connections with other Toronto women. The class was held in a modern co-working space in downtown Toronto to which I actually arrived early (shocker!). This gave me the opportunity to get to know some of the others whom funnily enough were Instagram ad converts too. PS. Elle and Rebecca – props on marketing! It was refreshing to meet other women who were in similar stages of their lives yet different enough that we could discuss travel, books and even why we joined this new experience.
Before the actual workshop portion of the class began we had a few warm-up exercises to get familiar with everyone and just loosen up after the workday. Elle and Rebecca, the founders, had some pretty interesting activities that had us miming, running around and just being silly. Which I didn’t mind because my daily job has me sitting on my bum. I really liked that Elle and Rebecca made it a point not to talk about their jobs so as to not make that their only defining quality. This space was created for everyone to be themselves, to express what they liked doing and for meaningful connections outside of their 9 to 5.
The watercolouring portion of the experience was taught by illustrator Jennifer Fryer. I loved her sense of humour and that she introduced me to masking fluid. Hello! No wonder I used to have such a hard time with watercolours. She taught us that the paper needs to be wet first then add colour – mindblown! I have always been adding water on top – leaving huge water stains on all my pieces. Thank you for being an enlightening teacher! I was so proud of my piece that it’s now pinned to my fridge. It was interesting to see how different everyone’s pieces were despite given the same basic succulent outline.
The next class fell on Valentine’s Day day so Elle and Rebecca had the cutest sprinkle cupcakes waiting of us with calligraphed name cards made by Eunice Bae – week two’s instructor. Another fun and helpful artist. She had us practice downward and upward strokes that would help us form letters. Pretty soon we were writing our names and the names of our loved ones. She even had two paper cards to write on and send to our loved ones. By the end of week two – I had learned everyone’s names and shoe sizes (if you know, you know).
Week three had us learning about natural skincare from the Wellbeings Community‘s founder Jocelynne Flor. She shared her story of working at a health store, learning about chemicals in makeup and how she wanted to get rid of all the unnecessary ingredients. She taught us about self-care which led us to make our own bath salt concoction. I love taking baths so creating my own essential oil bath salts made the workshop seem personalized. Just as I was looking to connect and create, Jocelynne was looking to build her confidence in public speaking. I love that these experiences meant something to everyone involved.
The final week was bittersweet – I had made new friends but the weekly activities were coming to an end. During the month we were given Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney to read and discuss in the last week. This was my first official book club and I quite enjoyed it. When I read reviews online, even for TV shows, there isn’t a chance to converse and hash out why characters do what they do. This round table (or rectangle rather) gave everyone the opportunity to say what they thought of the book. Although a few people liked it to start – post-discussion I think we flipped them. Safe to say I didn’t enjoy the book as much as the first few chapters but it did get me back into the habit of reading.
It was great to be a part of something that I could look forward to each week. February is a particularly grueling time of the year for most. The hype of the New Year has worn down and the busy momentum at work has picked up. The classes provided a much-needed escape to focus on myself. I keep telling myself to get back to creating in the traditional sense but over the last few months, I’ve lost the motivation. After the basic calligraphy class, I was inspired to write a friend’s baby shower card in ink – boy did my hand hurt after that! But, baby steps.
Thanks to Elle and Rebecca for launching this incredible “experience”. You can find their experiences in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and New York.