Learnings. And Leanings.

I’ve just spent the last couple weeks working on a bunch of new workshops to share with you.

But, something has been nagging me.

The other day, I brought that feeling to the dinner table. When I told my husband that I was feeling a little low and told him why he looked at me incredulously and said, 

“You told me that you want to create programs and retreats for corporate teams. Events and experiences where senior managers similar to the one you used to be, can get you out to work with their team. You want to help those teams connect and work together more seamlessly; work to fix some of the problems that have been piling on since the start of the pandemic. How does that fit with all the time it takes to run a full slate of general public workshops?”

Ouf. He was right. As soon as this was out on the table, my cloud started to lift. 

So, I sat down and started writing this as a way to process and move forward.

It’s been about 18 months since I left my corporate job. A year and a half of doing things because I think they are the right thing. Without asking anyone or calling a meeting. No briefing notes or updates to management. Just me, my ideas, my energy and my passion.

Some days, I show up with so much enthusiasm I am vibrating and the world is bright. Other days, a walk in the woods is more my speed. It's the nice thing about being your own boss, getting to choose.

I've had the chance to try different product and service offerings. Some things are popular, others - not so much. 

I know that as my business grows and more people find out about me, past offerings might actually flourish. I'm patient - but also anxious. I want the investment of time I make in the design and development of certain offerings to be well received. Who wouldn't?

The thing that was irking me the other day as I was working on a fall workshop calendar was that I've been through this launch cycle before and it didn't feel as lucrative as I had hoped. 

Of course, there were many reasons for that, which I can see now. It's hard to know whether the workshops we offer at Ply are on the right date, time, topic or at the right price for our audiences. Learning. 

Also, the pandemic. Sigh. Restrictions, variants and lockdowns have been circling since I started this venture so I actually don't know what it's like to run a business without all of this craziness.

So, after a year and a half of offering workshops I thought might be a great way for people to get back in touch with their creativity, I’ve realized a few things (as it pertains to my workshop offerings):

1. Everyone is overwhelmed with too many commitments and don't know what the next 24 hours hold, let alone the next 3 months. So, registering for a workshop? Later.
2. Per point number 1, you might be reading this in one of 33 open browser windows and have the best intent to register for something, but get side-tracked.
3. I will never be able to offer all the things to all the people on all the right dates at all the right price points. 


So, I'm following my intuition and pivoting in the direction of things that make my spirit soar. Things like:

  • Corporate team-building retreats.
  • Open studio.
  • Private and semi-private classes. 
  • Craft nights.
  • Artist collaborations.

Additionally, I will still continue to offer a handful of great workshop offerings (which you can see on the workshop page today), but I'll be re-balancing a bit.

Why are all of these things the pivot I have been craving? 

Quite simply, my energy tells me so. 

In my almost 5 decades on this planet, I've come to know myself pretty well.

When I feel passion for something, I'm 100% in. I have no problem devoting my time and energy to it. When I'm not sure about something, I feel it in my body. 

Now you might be thinking, 'Carmen, you're passionate about corporate team-building??'.

Well, yes. Actually I am.

Team building and corporate leadership development are some of the things that are actually near and dear to my heart. I worked in management, capacity building, knowledge services and learning/development for so many years that it’s been hard to ignore my keen interest in these areas. 

I automatically jump into creative problem solving when someone comes to me with a problem, asking ‘How might we …?” at any chance.

I still regularly read articles about 4-day work weeks, change management, remote learning and the latest trends in corporate culture building. 

And I'm fascinated by what the pandemic has done to our workplaces and how we might use creativity to become stronger and more resilient as we plough forward into the unknown.

Before the pandemic and when I was still sitting in an office, I was all about improving the workplace culture and creating avenues for people to tap into their brightest potential. I wanted the teams I ran to feel empowered to do their best work and to go far beyond the status quo. I saw (and still see) creativity as a tool to be used every day on every team, not as something reserved for people with 'innovation' in their title.

Now, with years of grounded experience and tons of reflection, I bring a well-rounded perspective on creativity, wellness, connection and culture.

AND I facilitate and train teams with humour and dynamism. (Try me!)

One more note on some of the other pivots I am planning.

Offering open studio hours, craft nights and private/semi-private lessons are all another way to encourage people to come into the Studio. I think folks have been worried that if there wasn't a public workshop on the calendar, that the studio is 'closed'.

That couldn't be further from the truth.

I want people to feel comfortable coming into the Studio ALL THE TIME. If the door is open, you're invited! I continue to state this this space is YOUR space. And as pandemic restrictions seem to be all but gone (for now, fingers crossed forever), the Studio is more than ready to host you. 

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because there is a real person here trying stuff and figuring it out as she goes. I believe being authentic about who we are and what we do (and more importantly, what we WANT to do) is so critical to our journeys. If I have learned something, I will happily share in the hopes that my missteps can be someone else's problem avoided.

I've learned to follow my energy, keep putting out offers, not be too down in the mouth when there is smaller uptake than I expected and to follow my expertise. I'll let you know how all of this is going in future posts.

Also, I started this post because I wanted to tell you why the launch of fall programs wasn't as robust as you might have been hoping. Simply put, I'm re-balancing and putting my energy in a few different and exciting places. I hope you will meet me there. 

Thanks, as always, for reading. Your comments are welcome!

- Carmen xo


  • Love this pivot Carmen! I’m especially looking forward to joining you and other artists to share, learn and create together. Count me in for the open studio for sure!!

    Lucie R.
  • Thanks for the brave and honest post, Carm. Marrying your past expertise in corporate team building with future-focused creative expression is brilliant. I can’t wait to see how this next phase of Ply plays out!

    Christy M.
  • I love your honesty and candour, Carmen. And I love your vision of a community space! Even though I usually wear noise-cancelling headphones and work very intensely by myself, I often crave just being around people, so if you’re willing to have a slightly antisocial companion, I would love to be a part of your space sometimes!

  • Amazing Carmen! Congrats

    Jessica Earle-Meadows

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