Share Denver is a community space dedicated to learning how to do new things -- from crocheting to small-business accounting. Founders Becky Hensley and Anne Davidson not only share their own crafty knowledge, but invite members of the community to do the same, resulting in an array of classes catering to diverse interests. "I had this dream that there would be like a space where people could come do craft project and it not be anything specific -- like only textile crafts -- but anything and everything you could possibly imagine," Hensley says.
Hensley is the founder of Denver Craft Ninjas, a group that meets once a month to hang out and work on a craft project. A couple of years ago she told Davidson, owner of the Colorado Bead Company, about her dream for a community craft space -- and Davidson brought up the idea again six months ago, noting that the work they were already doing would easily translate into this business idea. "So she kind of suggested that if we found a space that we liked we could maybe just start doing that," Hensley says. "It seemed weird that it would have been that easy. She said, 'I think it sounds pretty solid, we should explore it.' And so we did. We looked, honestly, for maybe a month and we found this space in Park Hill."
They fixed up the place, which used to be a daycare, and opened Share Denver's doors at 2829 Fairfax Street. They brought in their communities from Colorado Bead Company and Denver Craft Ninjas and began teaching classes. But instead of teaching all the classes themselves, Share Denver invites members of the community to teach a class about a craft or subject they know. "We ask that anyone who's interested in sharing what they know come and just take a very preliminary teacher-training class that just tells you about the space and what the compensation is -- because we pay all of our teachers -- and then you can teach whatever you want," Hensley explains.
The classes include beading, embroidery, art journaling and using social media for small businesses, to name a few. "I feel like, it's kind of like a blank canvas," Hensley says. "We're saying, 'Hey, this space is yours and we want you to teach your friends, share your skills with your community.'"
To Hensley, giving people an opportunity to teach creates an environment conducive to more creativity. "Our teachers are all passionate about what they do, so that contributes to not only the enthusiasm about what they're teaching but also the dialogue that comes from it," she says. "I think it's great, personally, because I don't think that people think they can be teachers until they're given an opportunity to be. It not only empowers them, but it also makes their craft better."
Aside from the weekly classes, Share Denver will be hosting events for the holidays, starting with Denver Craft Ninja's fourth annual Dia de los Muertos sugar-skull decorating project on Saturday, October 26.
The founders are also planning to hold a craft-swapping event in November. "People are often very enthusiastic about crafting in the fall season. Making handmade gifts is always a very touching thing. So we want people to kind of freshen up their craft stash with new stuff and maybe ditch some old stuff that you haven't used or is sitting in your basement that you feel guilty about," Hensley says.
And then if you want to make some new stuff, Share Denver will also be hosting classes for making ornaments and gifts in December.