Are you interested in teaching on-site workshops? I’m frequently asked how to do this so I thought I’d answer everyone in a single post – please share this post to further spread the word since teaching workshops is a trend in the making for bloggers. I think if you can teach and have something to share of value then consider running workshops because I LOVE TEACHING and I don’t plan to ever stop – they fuel me and make me so, so happy.
(Above: This is a view of my home-based workshop. I have two rooms connected by pocket doors so both become my teaching space when I have events at home, but I primarily work out of this room below (photography by Debi Treloar). This is a photo from my book, Decorate Workshop.)
Let me get started by stating the obvious: teaching online and teaching on-site are two very different things. Online teaching is just that – teaching an e-course using mainly your computer. Teaching on-site is all about gathering together a group and teaching face-to-face which creates a whole different dynamic with completely different points to consideration. Also, teaching on-site in your own home or in your separate work studio is much different than teaching for a day out of a studio that you rent exclusively for your event. This post will only cover how to teach on-site in primarily your home because that is what most of you have been emailing me about lately. (Lots of these tips can be applied to teaching off-site too.)
But first, a little background. I’ve been teaching online for four years with my own e-course, Blogging Your Way, but my experience as a teacher came long before e-courses. I first started planning and teaching workshops as a project manager 15 years ago in the corporate world – so when it came time to teach workshops for my own company, decor8, I had a ton of experience to tap into. For some of you with little to no experience teaching, you may feel completely lost. I can relate – I once had no clue how to plan workshops either. We all begin somewhere so consider this your beginning!
This space makes me happy. If the place where you work inspires you then those good feelings flow directly into your work so it’s vital to consider this early on while in the planning stages.
14 Workshop-at-home Tips:
Okay, so you want to teach at home, you have your curriculum crafted and well, you’re ready to go, right? Not quite. Here are some tips from a girl who has been there, done that. :)
1 Identify the space
What room in your home could be a great space for you to use as your office + workshop? Consider how far it is from your bathroom and front door. Maybe a formal dining room could be your office +workshop AND formal dining room (like mine?). We tend to eat in the kitchen and use the dining room only for parties and special occasions so it made no sense for us to reserve an entire room in our home for only dining.
Will you teach there often? Will you work there daily? Will you work alone or with others? What will you teach and do you have room for your supplies? How many people do you plan to teach? Perhaps you work as a consultant. How many can the room comfortably accommodate for a consultancy? If you are a wedding photographer, you may need to sit with your clients and show them their photos – can you accommodate a couple and other family members if they plan to bring children or parents?
2 Envision the space
Create a board to collect your inspirations on Pinterest or a file folder for magazine tears. This helps to define your personal style and vision.
3 Materials, storage and equipment: Think about what you use and where you intend to store it.
What do you need for teaching and how and where do you intend to store your stuff? (i.e. cabinets, boxes, desk drawers, etc.) Imagine all of the ways you could organize and where. The things that you use should be close to where you use them. Store paper and office supplies directly near your printer and desk, for instance. Don’t put your craft cabinet in your guest bedroom if you plan to teach crafting in your new workspace.
Also, have a back up plan. If you teach sewing lessons, you may require all of your students to bring their own machine. It’s been my experience to always keep a spare machine as a loaner in case one breaks.
(During a workshop in my office.)
3 Floor plan: Putting the puzzle together.
Decide where you will perform each function – working on your computer, printing, teaching, sewing, whatever it is that you do. I needed a large work table for my students and a very long space for my desk area so I could fit a printer, my computer, and stack work. I also required hidden storage because I have lots to store and since the room is also a dining room for my family – I wanted to reduce visual “office” clutter so that I could easily throw a dinner party in the space without having to hide stuff or redecorate the entire room!
Sketch out a few floor plan scenarios by hand. Consider flow – can people easily walk around? Once you feel good about the arrangement, take accurate measurements of everything – the room, windows, doorways, current furniture, pieces you’d like to purchase… And see if everything still works. If not, modify accordingly.
4 Consider your furnishings.
Shop around in your own home first and then make a wish list for other items and buy only what you need at first – you can “fill in” later. Then think of what you need for the space – do you have enough seating? Should you store some folding chairs too? How about the furniture itself – is it precious or antique? If so, you may want to move it to another spot in the home and put furniture in the space that you don’t mind seeing it get beat around a little. Wear and tear WILL occur!
5 Lighting is key.
Make sure the lighting is really good. You need to see what you are doing! People tend to think of lighting last but it’s a important to think about it right away. If you are teaching something that requires you to take photographs in the space, lighting is even more important. If you expect your students to take photos of your workshop for their blog, it’s also important to ensure the lighting is great so that students look their best and your workshop photographs well. I know, a little detail but pretty photos makes people want to share your workshop with others and since so many are blogging and sharing online, you can bet someone is going to be using Instagram or bringing their DSLR with them!
Now I’m going to cover some things that go beyond storage, floor plans and aesthetics.
6 Theft, privacy, safety and accidents are constant issue that you need to really consider! Not everyone online can be trusted though a majority can. I’ve never had a problem with my students but I’ve heard stories so here is some advice:
* Place valuables in specific rooms and lock those doors when your home is in use for a work session with clients/students, etc.
* Make sure the things in your workspace can all be replaced and are not that “special” to you. For instance, if someone broke or ran off with your wooden stapler you may not care but if your precious vase from your grandmother disappeared or came crashing to the floor, you may be equally shattered.
* Consider too, your privacy and that of other family members. Ask your family how they feel about your idea to teach or work from home with clients.
* Bathroom use is something else to consider. Do you have a second bathroom or half bath that is close to your studio space? If not, are you comfortable with guests using your private bathroom and is that bathroom nearby to the space or does it mean guests going to another part of the house or to a separate floor to use the bathroom – if so, are you comfortable with that? Some things we may not think about in advance can really bug us later on so consider what you may want to keep “private” in advance and ensure that you can do so.
* For the sake of safety, screen your applicants. Ask them WHY they are taking the class, you may want to talk to them on the phone, make sure you look through their blog or website, google them, and most of all – trust your gut. Another way to protect yourself is to make sure you ONLY accept payment BEFORE the event (NOT same day in cash) and that all money is handled either through a bank transfer (wire) or Paypal so you know the person’s true identify before they arrive for your workshop.
* Make sure your pets are not part of your event. Unless you are teaching a dog training class, your pets should be kept away from your classroom. Some people have allergies (please ask about allergies to food and pets before students arrive) but animals are funny little creatures sometimes. Some animals aren’t used to lots of noise and “traffic” in the home and can get a bit weird-ed out by it – they may pee or bite or freak out.
* Consider also local laws and guidelines when it comes to teaching workshops from home – particularly insurance and what is covered in case someone falls on your property.
7 Consider storage for your guest
Where will they place their handbags, coats and shoots – is their space for that? When I teach, I use a rolling coat rack and I put it in my hallway since I don’t want coats laying on my sofa or bed and with 15-20 students in my home per workshop – that’s a lot of coats.
I also tell students to keep their handbags and equipment with them at all times because I am not held accountable for lost or stolen goods. They shouldn’t be laying their handbag in the entryway with their shoes or putting a wallet on a random table with their keys. These items need to stay with them, on them, at all times.
Theft can happen so easily without a single bad intention since a lens cap, charger, even Macbooks and other computers all look the same so it’s easy to pick up things as you are packing up that don’t belong to you. And to leave with them. So it’s a good idea if you have a bunch of students all using MacBooks for instance, to label them with a post it note or sticker with their name to avoid an accidental swap.
8 Charging Up
Where are your outlets? Consider if your guests will be able to locate them easily to charge their devices during class. You don’t want students interrupting you to ask where outlets are of if you have a charger. Have some extension cords on hand and point out before class where those are located.
If outlets are hidden behind furniture, it’s important to identify a charging station in a few spots with an outlet strip so students can easily plug in.
9 Shoes off!
I ask all of students to remove their shoes before entering my home but I also email them in advance mentioning that they need to bring slippers or socks because I don’t allow bare feet either. I keep a few pairs of new socks (with tags on so people know they’re new) and give them to those who forgot or missed my email. You can get inexpensive socks anywhere so it’s worth having them in stock. I always let students keep them after use, too.
Think about food and drink. How will you handle feeding people? Is there a kitchen near to the room or will you put a small kitchen area in the room – mini fridge, coffee maker, etc.? Will you provide a catered lunch? Will you ask people to bring their own lunch? If so, will you have back up for those who forgot lunch? You may want to make a few sandwiches or salads just in case because you’ll always have ONE student who forgets and this can really disrupt your teaching schedule if they need to go out to pick something up.
Keep plenty of bottled water and juice on hand and in the room during class with paper cups. Let students know that during class, they are free to help themselves at any time. I would avoid placing the bottles on the table (spills, laptops, you see where I’m going with this?), so create a mini drinks table or corner. It’s a good idea midday, especially if you are teaching a full day, to serve complementary coffee and tea.
11 Supplies you should add to your list
Do you have aspirin, band-aids, tampons/sanitary napkins, enough toilet paper/paper towels, pens, paper, and other “stuff” that a student could potentially need? It’s smart to have these miscellaneous things on hand so that students (or you!) don’t have to leave your workshop to get what is needed. You really want to keep everyone together so that you can teach according to the schedule you have set.
12 Directions & expectations
Make sure everyone has directions and a clear idea of what they can expect from your workshop and what time is begins. end them everything they need in a single PDF two weeks in advance and then again 3 days before the event in case they missed the first one. Send a 3rd email the day before as a reminder and encourage everyone to show up on time – I ask students to arrive between 8-9 am so the arrival time is flexible but the start time is definite – 9:00 sharp. If they are late, they have lost time that they paid for to be there, and I think most people know that so they are usually on time. I also throw in that the early bird gets to select their goody bag (usually goody bags are not the same on the outside – different patterns and colors) and they can select the best seating first or something else to sort of nicely encourage an early arrival. Plus, an hour gives everyone time to arrive, get settled in and chat with one another. I usually serve a light breakfast during this time as well – bagels, fruit, coffee… And in emails I indicate that if they want to eat, to also arrive between 8-9 for best selection.
My home is still my home. Students are told at the beginning of class that they are only allowed to shoot in both of the workshop rooms, the entryway and wherever we end up serving food. It is your home, so it’s your choice ultimately, but my husband requested this and though I honestly don’t mind – my husband really does. Remember when I spoke about privacy earlier and talking to your family members first about where they draw the line?
If you are collecting fees for teaching (you should be!), then you have to check out local tax laws and pay your taxes accordingly. Also, your students may require you to provide them with a formal business receipt for their taxes so they can write off the workshop, so make sure you have a template together and can provide those receipts upon request.
If you’d like to see my most recent workshop at home, click here for a really sweet video where you can see a full view of my teaching rooms and workspace.
SO! Those are my 14 tips for teaching on-site workshops (mostly from home). I’m planning another workshop in my space in June – can’t wait! If I don’t cover a point you’d like more information on, PLEASE ask it in the comments section so others can help you, including me.
It’s Monday and I’m feeling good about this week because I have lists a mile long and they’re motivating me to get crackin’ on some projects I’ve been putting off. How is your week starting out? Hopefully good and interesting. One thing on my list that I started over the weekend has to do with my Pinterest account and improving it for myself and others. I’ve been a passionate pinner all weekend creating new boards and organizing them all so that I am more inspired to pin and so the new look I’ve given my page (packed with gorgeous themed boards clearly marked) will inspire others, too.
Until now, I did very little to promote my boards but I see real value in doing so and that is why one of my goals for 2013 is to monitor whether or not my efforts on Pinterest pan out or not. I’ll let you know in December! For now, new boards and organization was my first step! :) I’ve also decided to pin almost daily – which isn’t that hard considering I always have my iPad on me anyway and pinning takes very little time and in fact, is helpful to me because I can organize things so much better than by using bookmarks in my browser.
One board I created over the weekend is called Roller Skates. I love roller skating despite that I own and use inline skates — I still prefer four wheels over blades any day. I find inline skates so ugly (sorry) which is another reason I don’t enjoy putting them on my feet – when I look down and see these gigantic shiny black “Darth Vaderesque” things looking back at me I feel a bit uncomfortable because they are big, high off the ground and super ugly. Trust me, I don’t need pink skates with Hello Kitty, that’s not my style (or age group) either. I just want something stylish and well, fun. Are you feeling me on this?
Why my obsession with roller skates, aren’t those like soooo 80’s? YUP. So is neon and the whole geometric trend. Who cares. I like roller skates simply because they remind me of fun times, are so much better looking that inline skates and you can customize and personalize them to look even cuter (don’t I sound SO 12 years old right now?!?) PLUS they are less massive and make you look so much hotter in shorts over mega Darth Blader skates. I’m not hatin’, I own inline skates and use them but sheesh, you have to admit they aren’t that easy on the eyes.
Vanity aside though, I also like roller skates for all practical purposes – getting from point A to B but also — I love to skate! It’s great aerobic exercise and lots of fun. When it comes to safety, I also prefer stopping because it is wayyyy more intuitive (front toe stops! woot!) than having one stopper located in the BACK of only ONE skate. Who thought of that?!? Hello! I tend to stop in a much cooler fashion in old school skates vs. inline skates – Mainly since I adopt the tree hugger position using inline skates. I do this funny skip jump BONK thing off of the pavement when I need to stop so I can grab (slam into) the nearest tree. When going at a good, motivating break neck speed, I’ve been known to crash into trees and park benches to only look up, smile at the nearest passerby running to my aid, acting like, “Oh, this – pleassssse I totally meant to take a break on this pretty bench” or “Oh no need to offer to call 9-11, I’m cool, just felt a sudden burning need to hug a tree today and connect with nature”. In reality though, I simply cannot brake in inline skates no matter how many YEARS I’ve been using them.
I have a little something to reveal while I’m in the sharing mood and now that you know how classy I am on inline skates. I started roller skating (at a rink with a wooden floor!) when I was 4 years old. I wasn’t going to say “wooden floor” because that would age me but yeah, it was wood though for the record, the rink was already considered old school back then in the late 70s. I remember the skate guard chasing me around for the full two hours I was there because I refused to skate in the correct direction and instead, kept INSISTING that I skate TOWARDS the people. He would stop me, physically turn me around and say, “This way!”, and the moment he skated off, I would turn around and mumble, “NO this way.” I still remember my mother and her friends standing along rink-side with hands cupped around their mouths screaming, “Hollyyyyyy, come here, you’re going to get hurt!” and “Skate THAT way, Holly!”, but I refused to listen. They didn’t have skates on, and the rink was packed with teenagers, so it wasn’t like they were going to run out and get me. I think skating gave me this rush of independence because on skates (I was fast too), I wasn’t Holly the 4 year old, I was Hollyfreakingawesome. Over the years, skating gave me wings and crazy amounts of self confidence.
By the time I was 7 years old, I was participating in weekly speed skating competitions in my local rink (with highly polished floors and a massive disco ball!) and winning competitions against girls and boys. Oh yeah, I wasn’t just going to skate around and smile at boys, I was going to race ‘em. I skated weekly my entire childhood indoors and outdoors but I went to the rink twice a week for as long as I can remember.
If you know what “shoot the duck”, “all skate”, “free skate”, “backwards skate”, “dance skate” and “couples skate” even means, then we are kindred spirits. If you ever cared about matching your pompoms to your outfit, you get it. If you remember couples skates to Wham! (Careless Whisper comes to mind) you and I are of the same skater girl blood. If disco balls still rock your world, yup – we could hang.
By the time I was 14, I had broken and lost several teeth on rinks and on roads, fractured my Tibia which kept me in bed for 3 months and sprained my wrist a few times and fractured my arm. Kids, right? Skating was my passion despite how many times I fell – I always got up. Skating was my life but being so dedicated to a sport where you fall so often yet still make progress, skating taught me the facts of life long before I became a grown up.
In addition to breaking things (mostly bones), I also knew how to fix stuff. I could name every part on my skate, I could fix them when they broke, and I was constantly in the “pro shop” trying to find the latest wheels and parts to pimp out my skates. I went from a high boot to a low boot when I was 9 because I could skate faster in them.
Sadly though, skating rinks started to close and by the time I was 15 and we relocated to Boston, I had to carpool with my friends from Boston to New Hampshire just to find a decent rink. Eventually, skating was no longer on my weekly agenda. I got my driver’s license, really discovered boys and oh well – the skates went on the shelf.
But I still think about them. A lot.
So that’s why I created a Roller Skate pinboard. I know, LONGGGGG story right? But I think it’s interesting to learn WHY people do things, because perhaps there is a back story and those can be quite fascinating. I hope that you enjoy my ever-growing roller skate board on Pinterest and that it brings back a happy time in your life for you, too. It’s got nothing to do with interior design or decorating but who cares, inspiration comes from often the oddest places.
By the way, if you want to own some cool skates, check these out over at Topshop. I first spotted them in person in December at the Conran Shop in London last year and fell in love. You will too.
P.S. How many of you would love to see roller rinks return? But really COOL modern ones… Oh heck yeah.
Hello friends! I have an interview and book review to share quickly if you have a moment… I’d like for you to meet German stylist, photographer and debut author, Peter Fehrentz. I wrote about him last year but with the launch of his gorgeous book, Made By Yourself, I had to see if he would be free for a chat and he was! Peter is very talented and is a real inspiration to me so I am honored to feature him today. The projects in his new book are so innovative and fresh, I can’t wait to show you a few of them!
His publisher, DVA, gave me some images from the book to share with you so I’ve included them in this post along with some snaps that I took of my own copy of Made By Yourself. Won’t you join us for our little chat? Good! Meet Peter Fehrentz, everyone!
First of all, where do you live and what do you do for a living?
PF: I live in both Hamburg and Berlin and I am an Interior Stylist, Set & Product Designer and Photographer.
How did you get into this profession?
PF: I studied product design and after getting my degree, I did an internship as an editorial stylist at Schöner Wohnen magazine in Germany.
Do you find Germany in general supportive of those in creative fields?
PF: Currently it is changing a lot because there are many design schools that are very supportive and there are many fairs for young designers to show their work and to get in touch with industry professionals and potential clients. So, yes there is support here!
What do you appreciate most about German life and culture?
PF: Germans are very open and curious about other cultures – it influences our daily life wherever you go. Germany is a great place for doing straight forward business, especially in the northern part of the country.
Where do you go for inspiration in Hamburg and Berlin, where you split your time?
PF: I always go where there is art – galleries, museums, cinemas and theaters. Also simply nature.
Where do you look for inspiration online?
PF: There are some blogs (like decor8) that I visit frequently but also art and style websites that are sometimes good for creative input depending on what subject I am working on.
Where has your work been featured?
PF: There are many magazines and companies that I’ve worked with here throughout the years, for instance Living at Home, Brigitte, Schöner Wohnen and also foreign press such as Elle Decoration, Inside Out, etc. I work with companies too, for instance Parador, Alape, Dornbracht, Duravit, Hansgrohe, JAB Anstoetz, etc.
Where did you get the idea to write, style and photograph your own book?
PF: I’ve always produced DIY stories for magazines anyway, but it was when I started to photograph my own ideas in 2009 that I started to feel ready for more – for a book project.
What was the process like for you to do a book – how did you get a book deal, how long did it take to do the book, etc.?
PF: First, I approached my favorite publisher, DVA, about the idea in general and they were very interested and open to it. After negotiating the contract I had about 1,5 years time to produce the book. I didn’t work on it the entire time though because I had a lot of “daily business” and other jobs to do that were separate from the book. I’d estimate that the core amount of time it took me to do the book was about 6 months.
If someone living in Germany wants to get into interior styling, what would they need to do to be taken seriously and break into the profession?
PF: The best thing is to assist a stylist who is very talented and very busy in the industry for a long period of time (years not months). There is so much to learn and explore and this will not happen overnight. It takes patience. After assisting for awhile, and once one feels secure and ready, you have to find magazines, photographers, clients and agencies that fit your style and – very important – like you personally. Then you proceed from there to pitch some of your ideas and see what happens!
What do you think makes a stylist “good”?
PF: When styling is not only decoration but also has a certain twist. I like work that tells a story in a subtle way and it’s even better when this is done with a little irony. Not only one the surface but something deeper with many layers.
In Germany, there aren’t many gurus in design like we have in America, there are not a lot of well known names like Jonathan Adler or Kelly Wearstler. Why do you think this is the case?
PF: Germany doesn’t have a strong decorating tradition like some other countries. Sometimes I think one reason could be due to World War II. Right before the war, we had the Bauhaus which is still very popular and adored all over the world. After the war everything was about rebuilding and escaping the trauma for a long time and it is still not very popular to hire an interior designer here. I am not sure though if that really can be a reason, it makes sense to me, but perhaps it’s just in the German nature.
Would you like to be better “known” in Germany – famous for style and design for instance?
PF: I just like doing what I do and I am not really keen on being famous. I like the idea of reaching a large number of people and sharing my passion for what I’ve explored and what I believe in though. It’s always great getting response on your work.
Tell us about your book! What do you love about it?
PF: From the beginning, I always wanted the book to be about inspiration so people who love books can feel joy by looking at the photos but it should also work for those who love to build and handcraft things. When I peruse the pages of my book, I still like to look at all the pictures, the layout and design, and the colors. I hope that those who bought the book have the same feelings, too!
What is your favorite project in the book?
PF: There is not one in particular but two of my many favorites are the concrete lamp base (p.101) and the drop shaped mirrors (p.16).
What is a really big dream of yours?
PF: This book! I had wanted to do a book for a long time and I am really grateful that I found a publisher who gave me the freedom to make it a very personal piece – a true reflection of my taste and style.
If you’d like to see a video interview with Peter (in German) or watch him make a project for the book, you can click here for two videos on his site. To buy a copy of his book, please visit Amazon or his publisher, DVA (Random House).
Thank you Peter for the interview – so nice to get to know you better! If anyone has questions for Peter, please ask him in the comments section. Thank you!
(images: peter fehrentz (styled shots), book photos: holly becker for decor8)
If you know me well, you know all about my extreme fondness for fabrics produced by Liberty London. Liberty has held a spot in my heart since first learning about them in 2004 when I was in design school and our teacher raved over their exciting patterns and colorways. I definitely saw what the fuss was all about then and I still do. Liberty prints and patterns are some of the best in the world in my opinion and I love them.
I use their fabrics in many of my craft projects at home and even in my workshops. Do you? I’m not sure if you know this, but when I launched my first book, Liberty was nice enough to host a large event for me at their London flagship store in April 2011. I felt I had died and gone to heaven. A day after the event, they invited me back to do a few lectures and I ran into Amy Butler who was signing books and made a new friend – a day later we were shopping together in Notting Hill. I also more recently used Liberty patterns framing pages in my new book and was thrilled that they were happy to allow me to do so.
I really love fresh new season of prints in their Flower Show collection. Some are shown above. Can you imagine all of the pretty things you can do with them? I am already dreaming of a few.
How much do you really know about Liberty fabrics? I ask because until recently, I didn’t know much about their process or production. I received a thorough education simply by watching this video narrated by Mollie Makes magazine. I respect their brand even more now – they are made in England in an old factory with real people who have a passion for this line of work producing them. How nice (and rare these days!). Please watch the video, really, it’s great.
(images: liberty london)