“I was tired of looking out the same window. I was tired of going to the same coffee spots. I was tired of being in my car, living life on cruise control somewhere between the 10, 405 and PCH,” says creative consultant, Amanda Chase. At the end of January 2018, with a full roster of new clients and projects to work on, she found herself “completely creatively uninspired and on the verge of burnout.”
Obviously, Chase couldn’t drop her workload. But as a creative, she knew her mental block wasn’t something she could just power through. Unlike filling in spreadsheets or reporting on KPIs, creative work requires space, time, expansiveness, and, most importantly, inspiration — and when you’re stressed and tired, inspiration is the last thing to float through your mind.
Determined to recharge her brain and armed with the flexibility to work from wherever she wanted, Chase decided “to drive an hour and a half north to Ojai, in the middle of the week, book an Airbnb that had wifi, and make a commitment to myself to get out in nature, do something new, and get the creative juices flowing.”
She’s not alone in her work-fatigue and subsequent hunt for a creative retreat. Freelancers and contractors make up 34% of the United States workforce, and a study by Intuit predicts that the number will increase to 40% by 2020. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why people would want to become freelancers, but some perks include total flexibility over your hours, the ability to work from home, the opportunity to truly pick and choose products, and, of course, the financial benefits of working for yourself and setting your own rates.
Anecdotally, more and more women are becoming fed up with institutionalized chauvinism that has become rampant throughout the corporate world. To those women, the idea of working alone — or choosing to work only with women and men who understand and respect you — is mighty appealing.
But freelance life isn’t easy. Yes, the hours are flexible and you can work from bed and not change out of your pajamas for 72 hours. (Those are definitely big perks.) But freelancers are notoriously terrible at practicing their own self-care. Juggling the needs of current clients, pitching new clients, hitting deadlines, and putting out quality work can really add up.
“At the end of the day, it’s up to me to get things done for my clients and there’s a lot of work to be done,” notes Chase about her work commitments. Tack on the fact that freelancers often make their own hours — which usually means they have a tough time putting boundaries on when to stop working — and you’ve got an A+ formula for creative burnout.
Which brings us back to Amanda Chase’s great escape to Ojai. Not only did working from the magical Californian town help her get her creative groove back — it made her realize that many freelancers were seeking a similar solution to their burnout. “I decided that once a month I was going to get the heck out of LA (and, let’s be real, my comfort zone) and get out into the world and experience life, living, and traveling. I posted on Instagram this new idea and had over 20 people reach out to me saying they wanted to do this,” she says.
Moved by the response from fans, friends, and collaborators, she started ōSHen Creative with the intention to organize creative work retreats. “I realized I wasn’t alone, and that I would create this for us in the most simple, yet effective way. Let’s all just have a good time, get our work done, and see something new. The inspiration for ōSHen Creative retreats is simple: to travel, see the world, experience new places/people/things, and gain a fresh perspective all the while getting your work done!”
Chase is still plotting her first ōSHen Creative retreat that’s open to guests, but for Angelenos anxious to get out of the city and get some creative space there are plenty of options. Keep scrolling for some of our favorite Airbnb spots that are perfect for flexing your creative muscles.
The Saguaro Hideaway, Joshua Tree —
Sleepy, quiet Joshua Tree offers the perfect backdrop for a quick mental break — and the Saguaro Hideaway is the highly Instagramable answer to your prayers. The one-story house is gorgeously decorated, and even has two beds if you want to bring a friend to co-work together. It’s also just a few miles away from the entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, which makes it easy to dip out if you need a brain break or if you’d like to start your day with exercise.
Ojai Outpost, Ojai —
“I love to escape to Ojai and really slow down, go back to a small town city vibe, and be the last ones still sitting in a restaurant at 9pm,” explains Chase. If you’re a visual person, check out Ojai Outpost. Covered in blonde wood and white paint, it’s an aesthete’s dream.
The K Lounge, Santa Barbara —
Because it’s only two hours from LA and right on the Pacific, Santa Barbara makes for an excellent creative retreat option. This unique open-floor plan space is guaranteed to get the wheels in your head spinning.
Rustic Elegance, Carmel —
Sure, Carmel is a little further away than the rest of our picks, but it’s so worth it. (Plus, you can download episodes of Morning Matcha to keep you company as you make the trek!) This modern log cabin is ultra cozy and offers tons of windows — so you don’t even need to leave the house to enjoy a little bit of nature (but we suggest you still do).
Loft with Ocean Views, San Clemente —
The most southern city in Orange County, San Clemente is its own little microcosm. Known for its excellent surf spots, San Clemente is similar in beauty to neighbor beaches like Laguna and Newport, only less well known and far more quiet. The perfect combination for work!
Michelle Pellizzon is a creative consultant based in Los Angeles. A former professional dancer-turned-startup employee, she’s led a strange but wonderful creative life. Follow along for her latest projects and mishaps at @betterbymichelle.