Exchanging Skills at Makeshift Society in San Fran

One obvious trait that all DIY-ers share is a passion for all things handmade. A not-so-obvious trait (at least in my opinion) is a sense of adventure. It takes courage to get outside of your box and learn a new skill. There’s the issue of finding the information you need, gathering supplies you may or may not be familiar with, and, perhaps the most nerve-racking of all, risking failure. Enter Skill Exchange.

When Michele and I headed to San Fran last weekend, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out the party at Makeshift Society where Skill Exchange was holding a mixer to kick off its next series of workshops. We walked into what can only be described as a chic, grown-up clubhouse full of like-minded people who were interested in literally making the world around them. Sipping cocktails made from organic melon juice mixed with just the right amount of vodka, guests mingled with one another and local business owners to share about the latest recipe they’d tried or project they’d made. In the corner (under the treehouse), a board with a banner reading “Skill Exchange” asked guests what skills they’d like to learn. Answers ranged from how to macramé to how to can things.

On this particular night, guests were treated to short demos from several different experts–our particular faves were “How to Tie a Bow Tie” with Jenny of Humble Abode and a great recipe/demo for “Seasonal, Local Caramelized Onion Dip” with Amy of Embrace Health & Nutrition. The basic gist to all of this? Learning things in a fun setting with all your friends becomes less intimidating and more like a party.

Ties from This Humble Abode, Amy doing her thing!, Clearly we aren't the only ones that love Instagram!

And presiding over the party, her head adorned with adorable braids, was our host for the evening: Kate Koeppel. Kate started Skill Exchange two years ago in hopes of inspiring people to revalue things that are handmade. By presenting workshops in a low-pressure environment (and for a low price), she’s managed to create situations for people to learn a huge range of skills that hopefully arm them with the confidence to tackle even bigger projects.

Skill Exchange, Kate Koeppel, Rena Tom, Makeshift Society

Rena Tom, creator of Makeshift Society where the event was held, posing with Skill Exchange’s Kate Koeppel

In the San Francisco area and want to learn how to upholster a chair? There’s been a Skill Exchange class for that. Interested in making your own pasta? There’s been a Skill Exchange class for that. Next up are “Cheese Love: A Lesson in Italian Cheese and Wine” followed by “Cocktails and Bitters: How to Build a Better Drink.” Classes travel like a pop-up workshop depending on what they are, and if you don’t see something you’re interested in now, then just wait a little while. I’m sure there will be a Skill Exchange you’re interested in too.

ingredients for onion dip

Special thanks goes to Amy for sharing her onion dip recipe.

Amy’s Seasonal, Local Caramelized Onion Dip



2 large white or yellow bulb onions, thinly diced

1 sprig of thyme

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup créme fraîche or sour cream, full fat

1/2 cup plain yogurt (St. Benoit is recommended for those in California)

2 Tbsp. fresh chives, finely chopped

splash of fresh lemon juice

flaky sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste



1. Sauté onions in olive oil, honey (if desired) and pinch of salt over medium heat until evenly caramelized, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. While waiting for the onions, drain the liquid out of yogurt through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl for 1 hour. Yogurt should become a thicker custard texture.

3. Set aside onions to cool.

4. In a larger bowl, mix cream and yogurt, adding thyme, chives, lemon juice, salt, pepper.

5. Add the room temperature onion mixture to créme fraîche.

6. Sprinkle with extra chives, salt, pepper.

Serve warm or room temperature. Enjoy!



Optional: Add honey or use bacon grease in place of olive oil when caramelizing the onion; add honey to oil prior to adding onions.

More: for an extra kick or umami flavor, add a smidge of soy sauce or freshly cooked bacon bits to the dip.

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About Hannah B. Slaughter 


I’m a graphic designer for HGTV and DIY who loves taking something old, making it new and then adding sparkle. Weekend activities include thrifting with my handsome husband, writing for ...

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