01. Introduce yourself.

Hi, Im Van. I am the founder of worksmART. We help companies develop teams and strengthen culture through creativity and play. Our methods include arts based projects, teaching creative problem solving skills, and LEGO® Serious Play; which is a facilitation model that gets people to think with their hands. The fact is that we are all innately creative, and our programs bring out that creativity so good ideas can come from any level of an organization.

I also created we/grow, a networking workshop that utilizes LEGO® Serious Play and creative problem solving tools to help people build their business through collaboration and play, disrupting the way we are used to networking.

02. What’s your background?

In my career, I have ebbed and flowed between entrepreneurial ventures, leadership roles at start-ups and the corporate world in an array of fields from fashion, medical, education, and fitness.

I earned my B.A. in Psychology from UC Santa Barbara and later my MBA from Pepperdine’s Graziadio Business School. I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset and a knack for creativity. I look back at all my past experiences and realize that each of them have led me to where I am today – being able to merge my business expertise with my skills and interests in art and creativity.

03. How did you start your business?

I started my business about 4 years ago under the name ‘Craftivity Events’. The premise was to design and facilitate personal and professional development workshops. I hosted workshops in my backyard and at a friend’s art studio for the first year. I created events, marketed and recruited, and facilitated.

At the same time, I was reaching out to corporations to bring my work into their organizations for professional development. As you can imagine, a company called ‘Craftivity Events’ with workshops titled ‘Weave of Dreams’ was not a big hit in the corporate world.

I made the decision to focus on corporate clients, where I thought creativity was highly needed. I revamped my business to what it is now.

04. What inspired you as a creative woman?

Creativity has always been a part of my life. I can remember as a kid, my mom would get so mad at me, because every time she would buy me a new pair of shoes, I would paint them.

I would say what inspired me to create this business is the fact that I am keenly aware of the benefits creativity, and that’s why I want everyone to experience it. If they experience the benefits of creativity in one of my workshops, maybe they will go and find a creative outlet of their own.

05. What was your first job ever? Any funny or memorable story?

I had my first job in high school making balloon bouquets at a store called Dial-a-Gift. One memorable experience was when we made a 20 foot balloon arch for the reveal of an outdoor city sculpture. Just after we tied it down and the event was about to start, the wind picked up and the whole thing blew away. It was terrible. But taught me to always double check my work!

06. If you won a lottery today, will you still continue to build your business?

Absolutely. I love the impact of what I do, and I wouldn’t trade that in for anything. Im also a mom, so it’s been a challenge for me to structure my life in a way where I’m giving each area of my life the attention it deserves. I think winning the lottery would definitely help me to take the financial focus off my work and enjoy it for the creative outlet it is for me.

07. Walk us through your day.

May daily routine has recently changed to adjust to my 2019 resolution to slow down. In the past, I allowed my work to seep into all parts of my day. Now, I wake up, and rather than reading emails, I read a daily quote and go the gym. When I get back it’s all about getting my family up and ready for school. Once I drop off my son, I head to the office, answer emails and get started on my to do list, which generally consists of proposal writing, outreach and workshop development. On days I have client engagements, of course that becomes my priority. My days now end around 3pm when I pick up my son. We will go for a walk, to the beach, or the park. Then it’s back home for dinner and time with my family.

08.What has been the highlight of your career thus far?

I have been really fortunate in my career in the sense that the right opportunities have consistently opened up for me. So when I think of a highlight in my career, I actually don’t think about one particular thing. What comes to mind is having had the ability to pick myself up when a start-up failed, a business closed, or an investor pulled out of a deal – and create something new. I’ve adapted the saying ‘When one door closes, another door opens,’ to ‘When one door closes, several more doors open.’

09. Where or what do you think you will be/do in the next 5 years?

I will be continuing to grow this business. I can’t predict what it will look like in 5 years, but there is this great office space a few blocks from my house that I’ve been eyeing!

10. Share a quote/advice that you’d like to tell the 25-year-old you.

“Believe you can, and you’re half way there.” – Theodore Roosevelt
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