Great things can be born out of necessity, and if Alicia Hendricks has anything to do with it, these great things will be painted with gorgeous chalk paint. As the owner and creative director of the River North Workshop, Alicia helped bring an entire block to RiNo as she searched for a creative space to paint furniture and host workshops.
River North Workshop began as a workshop concept out of Alicia’s home. Worried about insurance and space issues, Alicia worked with partner Fiona Arnold of River North Investment Co, to find a space that would work for hosting workshops, painting furniture and featuring local makers. Fiona found the space that would become Backyard on Blake, and with her company, developed the warehouse into a series of storefronts to create a micro-community in RiNo.
River North Workshop is quite literally the cornerstone of this micro-community, and it embodies the locally focused, collaborative space that Backyard on Blake is all about. Alicia and her team source locally made goods and go to extraordinary lengths to do so. Alicia is so dedicated to sourcing local products that her husband learned to make soap when she was unable to find a local soap maker. River North Workshops goal is to be as local as possible, and to work to help artists and makers provide a story for each of the products in the shop.
Likewise, the store gives shoppers a place to learn about their community and a place to meet their makers. With a large workshop area in the back of the store, River North Workshop doesn’t just focus on goods; they focus on teaching things that participants will love. Local artisans and makers host workshops at River North Workshop, and participants are taught skills that they can use later. Alicia only curates classes that she would take herself, and she is often in the space during the workshops. Participants are also encouraged to speak to their teachers as well as other participants, giving the River North Workshop a collaborative feel without any pretense or confusion.
Looking outside the Workshop windows at the thriving micro-community in Backyard on Blake, it’s hard to imagine that the concept was once without a permanent home. As RiNo continues to grow and develop, River North Workshop is the kind of business—retail, workshop space, and community—that the neighborhood needs more of. Check River North Workshop’s website for the class schedule, or stop in to buy some locally created goods.