Catina Venning works with Maria Rodriguez and Nuvia Quick in a workshop. (Photo by Ash Daniel)
It began with a batch of lip balm Catina Venning made for her family when they were going through a challenging time.
“I called it ‘Smooch’ and they all started kissing one another,” said Venning. “I was like ‘Oh, if a lip balm can do this, then what can a foot scrub do?’ ”
An educator, certified life coach and mediator, the Richmond native saw an opportunity to help people work on their relationships. In November 2013, she began hosting parties and developing recipes for more all-natural products. Armed with nine additional creatively named massage, bath and body products (including a body wax named Wax That Ash and a body cream named Whipped), a business was born, and Venning in April opened a store, Make, love…Work-Shop at 306 E. 32nd St.
Venning likens her business to a gym, providing preventative relationship care. With the cheeky company and product names, she says customers often expect something more risqué and are pleasantly surprised. At workshops, Venning leads couples in group and one-on-one discussions and games, introduces guests to her 10 products, and teaches them about the characteristics of various aromatherapy oils, which they can mix and match with the products.
“I found over time that a lot of people needed support with relationships and they were thinking that therapy was the only way to go,” says Venning. “Everyone doesn’t need therapy. Sometimes you just need an opportunity to learn something new about your relationship.”
Venning’s sister Tasha Parry runs singles parties and their cousin hosts couples workshops with his wife. Slowly, they’ve added more workshops to their calendar, and invited community members to share skills like poetry, CPR and cooking.
“I think I’ve been on the path to figuring out how to support people and communities and relationships in creative ways. And I actually think this is it,” Venning says. “You get bored with the same old date night. Here, you have the opportunity to expand yourself and learn something new. It’s a unique concept and I don’t know if it exists anywhere else in the world.”
Call 304-4928 or visit makeloveworkshop.com for more information.