Fail Fast

Fail Fast

Starting a business is kind of like going to highschool for the first time. You have to put yourself out your comfort zone, make new friends and work really hard to prove yourself all over again in every aspect of your life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love every minute of it however everyday is like an emotional rollercoaster and I have found myself reinventing the way I have worked for the last 20 years in business. It’s fabulous.

I spent a weekend recently with my best friend and mentor eating Indian food and writing my business plan while she gently prompted me to focus and refocus my goals and I learned a very fine lesson from her. FAIL FAST. At the time I have to be honest, that weekend there were a lot of things passing between us that as wisdom and laughter, I shelved as genuine nuggets as my always needed quality time with her and didn’t realize how important this one was until it actually started to happen.

This is not really something I had in mind when I envisioned the romantic view of working for myself.

Back in the trenches, planning for a business operation happens so quickly sometimes you don’t notice the passage of time. In one day I was meeting with 3 or 4 artists, a bank, my landlord, setting lesson plans for courses and trying desperately to figure out social media programs. I had changed the name of my studio 3 or 4 times in a week and the feedback was not what I had expected. My ego was bruised and my procrastination levels had hit a high. In a week the number of things that I did were becoming overwhelming and while it seemed that all things were positive, all of a sudden- they hit a wall. Whether it was my energy, momentum or just the way of things, no more calls came in, the meetings stopped and no one wanted to do classes at the studio. I was in a rut, so discouraged and feeling like it wasn’t going to work out.

I called my friend.

She reminded me- this is excellent news. You have hit a roadblock- a small failure and you have done it early so now all you need to do is refocus and decide how it can work for you rather than let it take you over. Get over it and figure out what to do with what you’ve got.

It sounded so simple to hear it come from her mouth and so simple to hear it now but it was just the kick in the pants I needed. I just wish that I had someone like her back in highschool to push me in the right direction, and to help me deal with failure quickly! Maybe I would have started a business a long time ago! Maybe then pigs would fly 🙂


Always Say Yes

Always Say Yes

So, you may be wondering why “Let The Cat Go”? Don’t worry, I get it all the time. My maiden name is actually Lukachko. A Slovak name that for my life was difficult to say and my mother the kindergarten teacher would tell her students “just call me Mrs. Let-the-cat-go” to make it easier. Well, that caught on in high school for me and so – Let-the-cat-go became a nickname.

Up here in Muskoka though- as a Balmer, no one has the faintest idea what the heck was going on.

People who engage in forms of art are more likely to recover from illness more quickly, have deeper social ties and be able to problem solve faster.

As parents, Coel and I have been pretty fun with our kids. We have raised them mostly at a summer camp and outdoor centre, we are active and outside for most of the year. We love entertaining and most often are up for anything. When the kids want to try something new- we usually say yes.

When I was a Camp Director one of the things that would drive me mad was when someone would say “oh, we can’t do that activity because the children are too young”. No- they just haven’t been taught yet. My father is fantastic for that. He would have us outside with tools at a very young age, learning how to use…and respect tools so that we would be free to create what we wanted. He still is like this with our kids- even though this generation seems a bit more terrified than I remember being for some reason, they still get right in there!

I think it is important even for adults to keep learning. We get to an age where we settle into our routines and become comfortable going to work, taking care of our animals or children, going on vacations. How many of us are committed to learning a new skill each year? Even if it is as simple as using a new tool? Trying a new form of art?

In the research I did getting ready for the studio I found out that people who engage in forms of art are more likely to recover from illness more quickly, have deeper social ties and be able to problem solve faster. These are all good things for our lives!

I wanted Let The Cat Go studio to be a place that is funny, approachable and silly. A place where we always (most likely) say yes when people have ideas about new classes and workshops and where sharing happens. I hope that more artists will share their talents so that our community will grow and be a healthier place because we can all use a little more art.


Sewing without a pattern

Sewing without a pattern

When I was a child my mom tried desperately to teach me to sew. She was always someone that I watched creating clothes, sewing quilts, crafting animals and dolls. She was magical. She could make anything. She has always had an amazing sense of colour and style. My brother and I used to joke that if you tore into the walls of our house you would find a rainbow because she painted the walls almost every season. She changed the colour as she changed her feeling and style in the house and it always made it feel just like home.

I was probably the most infuriating child to teach because I never used a pattern. Somehow though, she still smiled, allowed me access to the fabric stash and continued to support my creative whim as I hacked away at what I believed was the next masterpiece.

I was probably the most infuriating child to teach because I never used a pattern.

After 15 years of solid work-a-holic type behavior, I decided to pay attention to some pretty big messages in my life and leave my work with the YMCA and pursue a goal I have had for some time and surround myself with art in a more intentional way. I love the Y, community development and youth work and so unfortunately none of that can be far behind what I continue to do however, it is time for a change. I know about myself that the best decisions in my life have been made on intuition and so, I decided to act on inspiration and pursue this goal of helping to support art education in Muskoka.

I have three lovely spunky children of my own that love to do art and so do all of our friends. We have found it difficult to find places for us to do this year-round (and my house just isn’t big enough)! I felt like there should be a place where everyone has a chance to hang out, to feel good doing something they didn’t know they could do- with no judgement about whether they used a pattern or not, and have the pride to put it on display. That is why I have started Let The Cat Go. A place for the “Curious and Creative” to get a little messy. Hopefully you will join me.


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