Coming Full Circle & Not Giving Up

Real Talk: Our First Year We Heard Crickets

Four years ago, Emily and I launched the first Creative Soul Weekend offering and heard… crickets.

We had put together the weekend of our own personal dreams - there was yoga, there was creativity, food was all included, and there were two lavish nights in a dreamy cabin. The price tag was around $400. Although we had lots of friends interested in coming, no-one signed up. Too pricey, was the feedback.

Well, fair enough. I mean, who were we? No-one had ever been to a “creative soul weekend” before. (Except the two of us and our friend Aleena the year before, the proto-CSW in St Peters). Personally I wouldn’t plunk down $400 either if I didn’t know what I was getting in return, no matter how promising and shiny the website looked. (And it did look great.)

But the cabin was already booked, we’d already paid for it. We couldn’t just cancel! We really wanted to make this work. So we regrouped and decided to eat the cost of one night at the cabin, and just stayed there ourselves. We cut the retreat back to one night, got rid of one of the workshops, and said that food would be potluck - each participant would be responsible for bringing some food. The cost dropped to $200 and we sold out.

>> And then we actually DID the retreat. And it was even better than we had imagined.<<

And we did it again the next year, and the next. Each time, we listen to the participants’ feedback, learn from it, and change the retreat slightly, expanding it slightly each year. And now here we are, four years later, and this year’s offering is pretty much what we dreamed of in that first year! And we’re one spot away from selling out.

So what does that tell us?

It tells us that the old cliche “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again” is true. Only it’s more like, “if at first you don’t succeed, tweak the offering again and again.”

It tells us to put the work in, one day and one year at a time.

It tells us to TRUST your gut. We felt there was magic in this idea, there was something there that other women would want too. Isn’t that what’s at the core of creativity, anyway? You create something out of nothing… and to do that you have to trust yourself.

I feel there are more lessons in this than just those three… if another one jumps out at you, feel free to share it with us!



We're on retreat tomorrow!

We'll be gathering beach side for a weekend of creativity, connecting, goal setting and complete relaxation. We'll likely be quiet over the next few days as we soak in as much as we can. But we'll be sharing all the goodness and magic with you next week when we are settled back in at home. 

Bummed you can't make it this year? Try to take a moment for yourself this weekend and see what you can do to bring a little Creative Soul Weekend inspiration into the mix! 

Take Care,

Leah and Emily 

Creating What You Want

True story - Creative Soul Weekend exists because I didn’t have the money to attend Designer Vaca.

Leah here - In 2013 I heard about this amazing thing called Designer Vaca. A gathering of all female graphic designers in the desert in California at the Palm Springs Hotel. And back then, retreats weren’t as popular as they are now. The only other retreats I’d heard of were the ones my dad did with the Buddhist community locally. But this one captured my imagination.

I checked out my bank account and nope, definitely wasn’t going to be able to swing a plane ticket to Palm Springs, plus accomodation and food and the registration fee.

So I did the next logical thing: I started a Facebook group. I added all the female graphic designers I knew locally (which was maybe 10?) and the link to Designer Vaca and said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be amazing to do something like this here?”

People added other people to the group that they knew, and then this girl named Emily Chafe (at that time she was not yet married to Mr. Rankin) messaged me and said “Hey! I want to help!” I didn’t know her at all before that but we hit it off right away.

Over the Internet we schemed and dreamed. We posted in the Facebook group to get opinions but essentially we made the decisions. That first year, we were hoping for at least 10 gals (that’s how many roughly had said were interested) and we booked rooms at the Bras d'Or Lakes Inn. We got a yoga instructor to take us on a guided hike to a waterfall, and then do yoga on a beach. And her husband was an artist and he offered to do a studio tour. In the end it was just the two of us and my friend Aleena who were able to attend this proto CSW (the name had not yet been coined, that would be the following year), but we still got the magical vibe from it that we were hoping for, the seed which told us “we have something here”.

It’s like eating at a super fancy restaurant and then going home and recreating the dish yourself with your own ingredients. Of course it will not be the same as the restaurant dish… but it will be more affordable, and you’ll actually put your own creative spin on it and perhaps make it even better.

Recently I got an email from a famous yoga teacher that I admire, advertising her latest retreat. It’s on the Oregon Coast, and she’s combining it with a badass boudoir photographer that I also admire. I want so much to go, but it’s easily a $4000 trip. There is no way I can afford that.

But instead of feeling bad because I can’t afford such a luxe and delicious self-care experience, and dreaming of a bank account with far more zeros after it than mine currently has, I think: well, how could I get a similar experience closer to home? First of all, there’s Creative Soul Weekend. Second of all, is there some as-yet-uncreated gathering that I could create, or support another entrepreneur creating?


We've put together a playlist of some of our favorite tunes for feeling creative. There's a mix of genres and songs to pump up your creativity and others to calm down and relax. Turn up the speakers or grab your headphones - however you like to get creative we hope this list adds to your experience. 

Check out the playlist here on Spotify!