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Since 2015, D.C.’s creative and curious residents have enjoyed workshops, classes, and discussions at The Lemon Collective. But the shared workshop space—founded by Holley Simmons, Kathryn Zaremba, and Linny Giffin in the Park View neighborhood of Northwest D.C.—closed in the fall of last year. No need to mourn, its closure was by choice and this weekend, a new and improved Lemon Collective reopens on Upshur Street NW in Petworth.
The Lemon Collective was initially founded with the intention to offer a creative space for Simmons, Zaremba, and Giffin. Each woman has lengthy, creative backgrounds: Simmons is the founder of Sill Life, a line of terrariums and other potted plant life, as well as a journalist; Zaremba specializes in wallpaper with designs; and Giffin is a fiber artist, interior decorator, and stylist.
The trio met in the summer of 2015 and bonded over a shared desire to turn their artwork and crafts into businesses. But the idea for a creative space outside of their homes grew from a passion project into its own business. Since it opened, The Lemon Collective has hosted many workshops in a variety of creative disciplines, including ones on creating vision boards, felted succulents, crepe-paper flower-making the basics for becoming a homeowner, and even a pussyhat-knit-a-thon for the Women’s March.
“We came across this little deli and decided to take it on and run our businesses from there, but also invite other makers and entrepreneurs to teach their trade to help them to make money off of their skillset and their knowledge base,” Zaremba tells City Paper.
When The Lemon Collective first opened in Park View, the founders had a simple goal of offering a space for people to create. Over the past three years, it has transitioned into something of an incubator for both maker-focused and discussion-based events. Two of those monthly events, Women Uncorked and Emotional Labor Union, have since expanded beyond The Lemon Collective to other parts of the city.
“Often times we’re offering space for things that we know space is needed,” Zaremba says. “Holley, Linny, and I are natural teachers. We were excited by the idea of getting to meet people and share a little bit about what we do and teach them how to make something.”
Simmons describes their new location at 808 Upshur St. NW, as a little “smaller, tighter” than the previous one but a much quieter and warmer space than their previous spot. And, it has the benefit of sitting right above Simmons’ new flower shop, She Loves Me.
“We worked really hard to make [the Park View location] a place that people wanted to be in, but it was challenging because the space was sort of decrepit,” Zaremba says. “This new space is in an older building on Upshur on a second floor, and it’s a cozier vibe all around, and it just feels a little more … like a secret space.”
For now, Lemon Collective regulars can expect, well, more of the same: workshops and discussions they’ve come to love. But for the future, Simmons said she hopes to focus on bringing workshops taught be instructors from outside D.C. to make it a more diverse and inclusive space. She also hopes to one day regularly host free monthly or weekly community-focused classes.
And The Lemon Collective isn’t alone in its pursuit to cultivate a creative environment. There are spaces across the D.C. region hosting similar workshops and discussions, including the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Hill Center, A Creative D.C., Shop Made in D.C., and the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
No matter the similarities with these venues, Zaremba says The Lemon Collective is “constantly trying to shift the idea of what a workshop [can] be.”