True story - Creative Soul Weekend exists because I didn’t have the money to attend Designer Vaca.
Leah here - In 2013 I heard about this amazing thing called Designer Vaca. A gathering of all female graphic designers in the desert in California at the Palm Springs Hotel. And back then, retreats weren’t as popular as they are now. The only other retreats I’d heard of were the ones my dad did with the Buddhist community locally. But this one captured my imagination.
I checked out my bank account and nope, definitely wasn’t going to be able to swing a plane ticket to Palm Springs, plus accomodation and food and the registration fee.
So I did the next logical thing: I started a Facebook group. I added all the female graphic designers I knew locally (which was maybe 10?) and the link to Designer Vaca and said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be amazing to do something like this here?”
People added other people to the group that they knew, and then this girl named Emily Chafe (at that time she was not yet married to Mr. Rankin) messaged me and said “Hey! I want to help!” I didn’t know her at all before that but we hit it off right away.
Over the Internet we schemed and dreamed. We posted in the Facebook group to get opinions but essentially we made the decisions. That first year, we were hoping for at least 10 gals (that’s how many roughly had said were interested) and we booked rooms at the Bras d'Or Lakes Inn. We got a yoga instructor to take us on a guided hike to a waterfall, and then do yoga on a beach. And her husband was an artist and he offered to do a studio tour. In the end it was just the two of us and my friend Aleena who were able to attend this proto CSW (the name had not yet been coined, that would be the following year), but we still got the magical vibe from it that we were hoping for, the seed which told us “we have something here”.
It’s like eating at a super fancy restaurant and then going home and recreating the dish yourself with your own ingredients. Of course it will not be the same as the restaurant dish… but it will be more affordable, and you’ll actually put your own creative spin on it and perhaps make it even better.
Recently I got an email from a famous yoga teacher that I admire, advertising her latest retreat. It’s on the Oregon Coast, and she’s combining it with a badass boudoir photographer that I also admire. I want so much to go, but it’s easily a $4000 trip. There is no way I can afford that.
But instead of feeling bad because I can’t afford such a luxe and delicious self-care experience, and dreaming of a bank account with far more zeros after it than mine currently has, I think: well, how could I get a similar experience closer to home? First of all, there’s Creative Soul Weekend. Second of all, is there some as-yet-uncreated gathering that I could create, or support another entrepreneur creating?