DIY Digs: Create Space

Katie and Al Cooley, the owners of the White Bear Lake DIY studio, on how they give back to their community.

Class attendants holding their finished products

While there are plenty of DIY studios in the Twin Cities metro, we’re confident there’s nothing quite like Create Space. This DIY studio in White Bear Lake has classes for all ages and levels, hosts private events, public classes, and drop-in hours, and even gives back to the local community by donating 10 percent of their revenue.

Whether it’s a rainy day activity with your kids, a bachelorette party with your girls, or you just want to drop in, pick a project, and unwind—there’s something (and then some!) for you. The owners, Katie and Al Cooley, have big plans for the future of Create Space. Check out what Katie has to say about the past, present, and future of their fast-growing and ever-popular DIY business.

How and why did you get started in the DIY industry?

“I have always been interested in DIY projects. My two favorite things growing up were babysitting and crafting, so I combined those passions and began my career as an elementary school teacher. After seven years of teaching, I needed a career change and I had always dreamed of owning my own business. My husband loves woodworking and building, I love teaching and art, and we both love connecting and giving back to our community. So, a DIY studio that focused on community seemed like the perfect fit.”
Three girls holding mini signs.

When did you open your studio, and what sets it apart from others?

“We opened our first studio in Vadnais Heights in October 2016. We soon realized that in order to best connect with our community, we needed to be in a vibrant downtown area, so in September 2017 we moved to a space in downtown White Bear Lake. In an effort to expand our outreach, we are in the process of opening a second location in downtown Hudson, WI.
What sets us apart from other DIY studios is our reason for why we do what we do. Our main goal has always been to connect and give back to community. That’s why we partner with local community organizations to help fundraise, host free, family-friendly community events with the local police department, and give 10 percent of our revenue to those in need. Our customers even get to choose where their contribution goes.
We also have a unique business model in that, in addition to traditional classes, we offer drop-in hours with products at various price points so that customers have more options. Customers who are more experienced or are working on custom projects can come in during drop-in hours to work at their own pace.”
Two women holding mason jar holders.

What projects do you feel are being overdone? What projects do you see becoming more popular in the future?

“Currently, the farmhouse rustic chic wood sign projects are all the rage! Our customers love to make signs that are personalized because it’s something they cannot get from a big-box store. We love when people (even those who don’t consider themselves “creative”) leave our studio feeling proud with a beautiful creation that is uniquely theirs.
As a DIY studio, we are constantly experimenting with potential future projects so that we can stay relevant and offer what people want to make. We’ve recently started offering yard games, metal signs, wood frame signs, floating shelves, succulent planters, and string art.”
Group of women holding wood sign projects.

What does a typical workshop class look like at your studio?

“The typical Wood Sign Class is about three hours. Customers get to sand, stain, assemble with power tools, stencil, and paint their project. We offer public classes that are open to the community. You may also reserve our space for a private class with a group of 10 or more. We also offer kids classes for ages seven-plus. Our DIY Seasonal Wreath class is very popular and includes a wreath base, your choice of a variety of florals, and a custom-painted wood sign.”

What’s one thing you’d like to implement at your studio within the next year?

“Since we are currently in the process of opening our second location, we hope that in the next year we will become more connected within both communities. We hope to grow our Give Back program to make a greater impact in the community. We will continue to create a space for people to gather in a fun and friendly environment where they can build relationships while building personalized home decor.”
Man and women holding bean bag game.

Go-To Guide

Studio name: Create Space

Where to find them: 4712 Hwy. 61 N., White Bear Lake

What they offer: A variety of wood and metal home decor projects, custom corn hole and other yard games, tables, shelves, and more. If you have an idea, they’ll help you make it.

Year opened: October 2016

Studio owners: Katie and Al Cooley

Social media handles:

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