When an alumna visited an old, rundown deli in Park View, she said she wanted to transform the “horrible” space into a workspace fashioned with funky wallpaper and eclectic pieces of art to bring artists around the District together.
Kathryn Zaremba, who graduated with a master’s degree in exhibition design from the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in 2012, created The Lemon Collective – a workshop that hosts almost daily guided classes like embroidery for beginners and how to build a cheese board. After starting The Lemon Collective in 2015, Zaremba and her business partners have created a space to bring female artists, entrepreneurs and activists to gather in the District.
The Lemon Collective moved to a new location at 808 Upshur St. NW last month and while the new location in Petworth is slightly smaller. Zaremba said by mid-February, the group will have a second space next door that will allow them to host more events.
The group hosts meditation sessions, classes and art shows and often forms the topics around local issues. In days after the country’s longest government shutdown, The Lemon Collective will host a show Feb. 17 that displays work from previously furloughed government workers alongside personal notes about how the shutdown affected them.
“We do try to bring awareness to things that are happening in the city, even if they’re not happening in our space,” Zaremba said.
Zaremba said the two co-founders of The Lemon Collective – Holley Simmons and Linny Giffin – were the only people who expressed interest in the workspace.
“We all just really wanted to have a space outside of our homes where we could teach our trades to people, gather and make our work without having to destroy our apartments and disrupt our personal lives,” Zaremba said.
But Zaremba said The Lemon Collective not only allowed her to build a network and support other artists, but it also showed her the freedom that comes along with owning a business.
“We are very open-minded and I love that about our space,” Zaremba said. “Because it’s just the three of us, we don’t have anyone telling us that we can’t program a class where women talk about sex or telling us that we can’t offer a free workshop that helps people buy their first home.”
In addition to inspiring local artists through The Lemon Collective, Zaremba runs a custom wallpaper company, the Kate Zaremba Company, where she sells her colorful wallpaper that features designs like avocados, sketches of eyes and zebras, and helped deck out the walls of D.C. restaurants like Little Sesame.
Zaremba said it was not easy to make a place for herself in the art world, which made her want to empower other artists and promote entrepreneurship for creatives in the District.
“I would say successful artists – unless they happen to be scooped up by a savvy business persona and handled – they’re the most fantastic business people because they have to be in order to dream it, to make, to produce it and to be able to make a living from that work,” Zaremba said.