Meet Jen Falkowski and Jenina Mella, the two makers behind Deep Into Indigo Retreats

Jennifer Falkowski and Jenina Mella met in 2005 through the vibrant unschooling community in Madison WI. Jenina had already been living in Madison around 10 years, and Jennifer had just moved to town. They connected over their shared interest in unschooling, an educational philosophy that supports interest-based learning. Unschooling assumes that learning should be joyful and fun, and be internally-motivated.

These two stepped into their creative lives from different paths: Jennifer, an artist, has always taught creative classes both privately, and through the library system. Teaching is a natural extension of her theatrical training. In her classes, she has always seen her role as being an enabler and supporter of people’s creative spirits. Jenina, on the other hand, found her creativity during her years being home raising her son. That open time allowed her to finally devote herself to developing her long-held interests in food, gathering around the table, and fiber arts; skills which she had put entirely on the back burner during her years as a courtroom lawyer.

It just so happened that their homeschooling group was filled with other like-minded women who Jenina had gathered to craft together and support each other through all of the challenges and changes that people go through. They had been meeting on a regular basis to craft and socialize, and twice a year, they went away for a weekend retreat to recharge and connect, returning to their families energized. Jennifer was welcomed into this group of creative and interesting women. That group of moms has been meeting this way for 20 years. Those retreats and gatherings were the seed of the idea for Deep Into Indigo Retreat.

When Jennifer started dyeing with indigo in 2012, she invited Jenina to her very first test class. What a wonderful day! They had a blast! It was clear that they both got so much energy from getting together with other women to craft and create that they began to hatch plans for working together.

One of the first experiences they collaborated on was meeting regularly over a period of months to work through the exercises and creative prompts in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.The inspiration and mutual support they experienced from doing that over a period of months, got their minds working! Soon, they could see they had some important ideas in common despite the differences in their modes of working and backgrounds.

  • They share a philosophy that learning new skills can and should be fun.

  • They have an interest in supporting other women, sharing really delicious food, and travelling the world,

  • They want people to feel completely welcomed into an immersive creative experience, and to enable people to experience a sense of flow, and

  • They strive to build a warm community at every event they host.

These ideals support and sustain the Deep Into Indigo Retreat and continue to motivate them to move forward and develop classes and events where this positivity can be shared with the world.

Jen Falkowski

Jen Falkowski

Indigo Dyer

Hey, I’m Jen. I’m a textile artist who loves to dye fabric with indigo using shibori, batik and other resist techniques. I dye clothes, fabric and accessories and sell them around Madison. My greatest joy is teaching people how to play with pattern design, and to introduce them to the magic of dyeing with indigo. Through indigo, I help people who are looking for a way to add more creativity and play to their days. I show them how to have more creative fun, while sprinkling in a little play time…maybe a lot.

My work and passion are to be an antidote to the “Fear of Making”. I do this work out of a deeply-held conviction that the act of creating something out of nothing feeds our soul and self-worth, and is just plain fun! I feel so crazy lucky to be able to offer Deep Into Indigo Retreats with my good friend Jenina Mella. It’s like no other class experience you’ve ever had. We offer amazing food, wine, friendship and indigo dye resources crafted to allow you to free your inner creative spirit.

Before focusing in on fabric dyeing, I founded and ran the super-popular Fearless Crafters Program at the Monona Library and taught all sorts of creative classes at the American Family Dream Bank, in a few local library systems, and privately. I’ve been sharing my love of indigo dye since 2013. I’ve taught really anywhere anyone will let me, including Olbrich Gardens, Blue Bar Quilts, The Electric Needle, Millhouse Quilts, and privately.

When I’m not enabling your creativity or dyeing, painting, doodling or writing on my own projects, I can be found hanging with my kinda grownup kids, husband, and our little bitty rescue dog Gus. We love to host outdoor movies nights in our backyard and travel to visit our family who live in warm places by oceans. You’ll know me when you see me, I’m the one who is always wearing blue and probably telling dirty jokes. Sometimes, all people need is the right encouragement. That’s where we come in.

Jenina Mella

Jenina Mella

Foodie and Creator

Hi there, lovely meeting you! I live for inviting people in. I don’t need a particular reason–it could be a celebration or not. It’s a little gift of words with a secret toy surprise inside–fun, connection, conversation. What I most look forward to is seeing a little sparkle in the eyes of a person when they’re invited to join in with others.

I love gifting them with that lovely sense of being included. I always picture myself putting an arm around their shoulders and guiding them to my table to share a meal, a craft, and a conversation. Hosting is as natural to me as breathing. Gathering together to share the experience of making things is one of the most powerful drivers of connection, I think. I’m a believer in the power of making and creating to connect us to ourselves and each other. There is no more sensual or sensory experience than putting our hands on our work and passing it on to go out in the world—this is a deep, ancient and magical human impulse. It’s a particularly special experience when I can share this with other women.

You’ll see me as the Deep Into Indigo event planner, hostess and chef extraordinaire. I’m the food tour guide and a life-long foodie. I’m a seeker and creator of beauty, a maker and sewing enthusiast and a lover of color. That is my “why” for Deep Into Indigo. Providing enriching, nurturing, carefully-curated creative experiences for women. You’re invited!

Upcoming Retreats in 2019

Deep Into Indigo is hosting two retreats this coming summer. In June, they’re hosting ‘Blue Bites: Driftless Tastes and Textiles Weekend’. Here is the info for Blue Bites: Driftless Tastes and Textiles retreat. The second retreat hosted in July and is called Deep Into Indigo.

Both are four-day retreats and take place at Logan Mill Lodge in Westby, WI.

Links to Deep Into Indigo website and Facebook page.