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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Retreat Education

The first ever Zentangle Retreat held in North Andover, MA last weekend was attended by 15 tanglers. Some CZT Masters and some CZT's. Suzanne McNeill sat next to me the entire weekend. What a great person she is. She told me she had recently sold Design Originals, her publishing house, to Fox Chapel Publishing but that she was going to stay on staff to work with the artists who would be published through the new company. She was certainly excited and pleased over the fact that she would be on the creative end more than the "business" end.
Every person attending shared something about themselves during the intro session. The results were so much fun. It seemed everyone was exhausted and truly in search of a weekend of relaxation and meditation through tangling. Attendees came from Texas, Canada, New England, Michigan and New York state. I'm sure I'm missing some places, but can't remember all the locations. :>) There were supplies to be shared and played with, to be bought, and then there were the goodie bags. Each of us brought a goodie for each bag. The surprises were wonderful. I received pens, tangling tiles, a small resin boot from Texas to hold my pencils or markers, soap, shampoo, a rusty tin shape of Texas, some shrinky dink materials (which I plan to try my hand at today), and some other great items. The bag was paper, but was tucked inside a cloth bag that we were asked to tangle. It took 2 days for me to finish mine.

There were breakout sessions where we talked about business, and also watched demos of tangles that we had found difficult during training.Mooka was hard for some, but I just love that design. We all received a fairy wand from Susan Smith. She is a life coach (and CZT) who explained how she starts her class by stating the students will be able to do all that she asks of them. She spoke of how breathing to relax is key.
Information on class development, corporate retreats, and building a data base was also covered by Christine Britos, a business coach from MA and one of the people who hosted the weekend.

For class development, Christine advised that we begin with our audience. Find out where they are coming from, and how Zentangle fits into their lives. This way it becomes easier to figure out what they will learn first.
For corporate retreats, the Human Resources Department is your target. Get to know the head of the department. The mover and shaker so to speak. Ask about the goals for a class and what they expect. It's all about "what you can do for them and what rewards they will reap from a tangling class". The benefits to the participants of the class is of utmost importance. Just saying relaxation and meditation isn't enough. Expand on how your class will increase productivity and take it from there. Really think about your pitch.
Christine mentioned defining your target market. If you want to work with children, adults, senior citizens, corporate, or the mentally or physically wounded (in all areas, not just soldiers), then focus on that particular area. Think of your plan and how to go about reaching the places you want to fit into and how you will fit into them. Always evaluate your experience, so you'll be a good fit. Offer a free or a small fee beginner class of a half hour to an hour to become established with the human resources or powers that be person(s). It can simply consist of a demo along with the history of Zentangle or the attendees could do a simple tile that they could keep. You would collect the pens and pencils, though.
Building a data base is as simple as passing around a notebook so people can sign up with their email, name and phone number. This enables you to follow-up after the class is over. Before participants leave, ask each person to briefly explain what they got from the demo/class. This helps you figure out your weaknesses, strengths and where to go from there.
On the designer and artistic side of the retreat, I had the chance to speak with Bette Abdu (the woman who worked in conjunction to Christine Britos in order to bring the retreat to fruition) about Copic markers, the benefits of tangling with colors and markers, as well as where to get information on a variety of places that offer deals and great prices on materials.
Suzanne McNeil, Sandy Steen Bartholomew and I talked about publishing, where the business is going and  what the future holds in the tangling world. The upshot of that was....there is a great future for tanglers, tangling and the publishing of it. One of the most important aspects of publishing is to meet deadlines. Otherwise there is a trickle down effect resembling the old domino theory. One person falls down on the job and it goes to the end of those in line.
I hope this has been informative for those of you who couldn't attend and maybe it will prompt you to go to the next retreat in 2012. I know I wouldn't miss it!!
Check out the Photo Gallery page for some ideas of what we did and who was there.


  1. Wow, I wish I could've been there. Thanks for the report!!!

  2. It was so good to meet you Jeanne. Your retreat summary is spot-on. Be well and I look forward to seeing you at the next CZT Retreat! Hugs~ Melissa

  3. Thanks so much for the details :-) I certainly hope it works out so I can attend next go round.