Ali DeJohn

Chapter Be_Ali DeJohn_The Makerie

A friend introduced me to the Makerie when I first moved to Denver, and I was instantly intrigued by the idea. I loved that this beautiful retreat was created with the sole intention of giving people the time and space to just be creative. I truly believe that everyone is creative, some just give more time and energy to it than others. Now here was something that was saying – take the time. Take the time to disconnect from the hustle, the busy schedule and technology to connect back with yourself by creating something with your hands. So, I was delighted when I had the opportunity to meet the Makerie’s creator – Ali DeJohn.

Ali is just as genuine as the event that she works so hard to create. In meeting her, it was clear that she was truly vested in creating a space where people could connect to their creative beings. It all started when she found herself in a space where she was feeling disconnected from herself. She had worked in events and marketing – including the Chicago Marathon – for years, but took a break to have children. After her second child she found that she felt as though something was missing. In an effort to try and figure out what that was, she went on a creative retreat in New Hampshire.

The experience was both life-changing and reaffirming that she needed to bring creativity back into her life. Since traveling back and forth to New Hampshire was not an option she started to look for something more local – and when she couldn’t find anything, she created it herself. The Makerie was created in the hopes of giving others the same thing she got out of her creative retreat – a space to just play, get lost in a creative process, learn something new and feel inspired.

We talked about what this transition was like for Ali, how she finds time to “just be” in the middle of it all, the growth of the business and some of the aches and pains along the way. Listen below to learn more about Ali’s Chapter Be story…



Makerie_Sweet Paul_class[03:20] Ali’s world before the Makerie came to be, and how she struggled with feeling like something was missing from her life.

[07:30] “Some little voice in my head said, ‘You should go do this!'”

[10:07] “Either just walk away and forget about it or try it and see what happens…if I tried and failed, I could live with that more easily than the ‘what-ifs.'”

[14:10] “It is such an interesting phenomenon to see what slowing down and making something with your hands and allowing yourself to be fully present in what you are doing does for people’s spirits and souls.”

[15:05] The importance of trying to drop the “busy” in our lives and connect back to a space where we can create. Put technology on hold!

[16:30] How Ali finds the time during her week to create.

the makerie_happiness is handmade[18:43] The impact of having the Makerie Retreats in a place that connects to nature.

[22:20] “Whenever you’ve tried to do something and you’ve held onto it so tightly, it never works out the way you want it to. But, when you let the reins go, it always just flows and comes together in a way you wanted it to in the beginning!”

[23:15] The way in which Ali developed partnerships with Sweet Paul, URBN and Land of Nod.

[31:40] The Makerie also aims to develop a community where people come together around a love for being creative.

[33:40] Ali talks about some of her struggles in creating The Makerie and how she views the balance as a teeter-totter.

[38:22] Ali’s methods and techniques on how to “just be.” Key – take deep breaths!

[40:48] “Perfection should never-ever be a word that is associated with creativity.”




What’s your favorite story to tell at a dinner or cocktail party?

TED Talks are always fascinating topics. There is one particular talk I’m really inspired called How Schools Kill Creativity by Ken Robinson. (It has over 33 million views!) In a nutshell, it’s about how kids have a tremendous amount of talent and how we often squander it. He argues that creativity in schools should be equal to literacy. We need to re-think the process of how we educate our children and see our creative capacities for the richness they are by educating the whole being.

Worst work experience?

In college one summer, I sold merchandise for our University’s summer camps and the kiddos would come off the field and reach in their shoes and pull out their sweaty dollar bills that had been in there all day. Pretty gross!

What is your definition of success?

Success to me is dreaming up an idea, finding the courage to do it & inspiring someone else to do the same.

How do you tap into your creative energies – especially when you are feeling drained?

Going back to the basics of self care is always the first step for me. Sleeping is a really important piece for me personally to have the right energy for anything I do, as well as exercising, drinking a lot of water & eating a clean diet filled with fruits & veggies. I feel such a difference all around when I feel rested, hydrated & nourished. I also love to spend quiet time in nature & browsing my favorite magazines.

What does “to be” mean to you?

It means being fully present & in the moment, not wanting to anywhere else then where you are.

How do you spend your time when you are procrastinating?

I clean, organize or snack.

Ideal READING LIST – books, websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc. that you would want on your Swiss Family Robinson deserted island?


  1. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  2. The Not So Big Life by Sarah Susanka
  3. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  4. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (I just got it & can’t wait to read it!)
  5. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi (cookbook)


  1. Design Sponge
  2. Pinterest


  1. On Being with Krista Tippett
  2. The Splendid Table
  3. TED Radio Hour


  1. Flow Magazine (out of the Netherlands)
  3. Sweet Paul
  4. Jamie Oliver’s cooking mag

Favorite song with “be” in the title?

Could You Be Loved by Bob Marley


The 2015 Sweet Paul Makerie at Terrain from Sweet Paul on Vimeo.

Images via Chapter Be & The Makerie

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3 Responses to Ali DeJohn

  1. ali dejohn May 21, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    Thank you so much for having me! It was such a fun conversation & can’t wait to follow along your journey!

    • kblake May 21, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

      Is a pleasure to have you as a part of Chapter Be, Ali! So appreciate your perspective and thank you for sharing a bit of the knowledge you have gained in your path to creating the Makerie!


  1. Reporting for You. My Sweet Paul Makerie Creative Retreat Experience. | Elsa Mora - April 22, 2016

    […] “Since traveling back and forth to New Hampshire was not an option, she started to look for something more local – and when she couldn’t find anything, she created it herself. The Makerie was created in the hopes of giving others the same thing she got out of her creative retreat – a space to just play, get lost in a creative process, learn something new and feel inspired.” -Words by Kïrsten Blake. […]

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