#WomenOfAce: Meet Carolyn Plater and Stephanie Kersta

A place where you can relax, restore and recharge — does anything sound better? We are all about changing the habits around the (generally speaking) toxic, constantly plugged in, stressed out lifestyles we lead and these ladies are taking strides in doing so. Meet the duo behind Hoame, a space bringing meditation and mindfulness to the masses. Get to know the why behind their mission.

Hoame Toronto

ACE: What are you up to? ( Your current hustle )

Carolyn and Steph: We are the co-founders and co-CEO’s of Hoame, North America’s largest modern meditation studio. We are also both mental health clinicians (Steph is a Registered Psychotherapist and Carolyn is a Registered Social Worker), and serve as faculty at a number of post-secondary institutions.

ACE: Why is this important to you? ( Where did this passion come from? )

Working in the mental health field for over a decade each, Carolyn with an ER background, and Steph with a community and policy background, we found that so often, mental health crises that emerge are a byproduct of the chronic stress that people are under. We also felt that so much of mental health treatment was reactive, and we often wondered what could happen if we started to prevent mental health symptoms through strategies to combat stress and changing the sometimes toxic, constantly plugged in, stressed out lifestyles we lead.

Four years ago, we started a side hustle called “Ease” where we ran corporate mental health training, and we did really well! Through that, we saw the challenges of chronic stress and workplace mental health. We both felt we could do something bigger to combat this, especially knowing that depression has been cited to be the second leading cause of disability in the workplace by 2020. We both used mindfulness and meditation personally and professionally for years and saw the growing research base behind the benefits of meditation and thought to ourselves, perhaps meditation could be brought to the city in a big and exciting way, and merge that with our love of education and overall wellness. So really, the story of Hoame is a culmination of our passion for prevention, and the knowledge that people can thrive rather than survive in the lifestyles we lead.

ACE: What was your dream job growing up? How do you think this has influenced who you are today?

C: I knew I always wanted to work with people and I knew for sure I’d end up in a helping field. It was like a weird hybrid, doctor, nurse, teacher and therapist. The passion for working with people hasn’t changed, and now I get to meet amazing people daily through Hoame!

S: I wanted to work in some sort of scientific/medical profession. Early on I wanted to be a dermatologist, and then a researcher. Once I started volunteering at CAMH during my undergraduate degree, I began working with individuals on the unit and my passion for working in the mental health field was solidified. Through Hoame, I am able to use my passion for research, as everything we do has a scientific backing.

ACE: If you could describe yourself in only three words, what would they be?

It’s so hard to describe ourselves so we chose to describe each other!

C: Steph is witty/hilarious, thoughtful, and one of the hardest working and most determined people I know.

S: Carolyn is inquisitive, positive, and an inspiration.

ACE: Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

C: My mom. She has been a model of merging science and alternative therapies. She is a Registered Nurse who has worked in mainstream medicine for years, but she also practices alternative therapies. She is an avid meditator, believes in the power of crystals and palo santo, and has modelled early on, that these two paths can complement each other.

S: I’m going to have to say my mom as well. She has been extremely successful in her career, and she modelled for me the value of hard work, listening to your gut, and doing it all in heels.

ACE: What does the term “Boss Babe” mean to you?

C: Someone who follows her passion and doesn’t waver from her values.

S: Someone who lifts up other women while staying true to her goals and mission.

ACE: How do you empower other women?

We lift each other up. We have been so fortunate to learn from some amazing women both professionally and personally, so we pay it forward. We are never too busy to chat or answer questions about business building, and really do what we can to help others who share common values in this space.

We always saw Hoame as a space to build a community of like-minded individuals and highlight the amazing things that people have already been doing in the meditation community, whether it be through teaching in our studio, hosting a fireside chat, or hosting a workshop, we like to use our studio to bring people together so we can all empower and learn from each other.

ACE: What is the best advice you’ve ever received from another woman?

C: Michelle Obama said it best, “When they go low, we go high.” I have followed this with every business decision I have made.

S: Just jump in. If you don’t act because of fear, regret is worse than failure.

ACE: Can you share the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a failure?

The biggest lesson truly is to trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. Early on in the path to building Hoame, we were naïve and trusted and hired people who really were in it for themselves. We lost a lot of time and money because of this and the red flags were there early on, yet we ignored them. So trust your gut!

ACE: When you are feeling overwhelmed, what do you do to find peace?

C: Take a bath and talk it out with friends.

S: Play with my rescue pup - Hemingway, and spend time with those I love the most.

Both: And obviously meditate!

ACE: What legacy do you hope to be remembered for?

We both really hope that our original mission to do what we can to combat stress and mental health challenges through prevention and lifestyle changes becomes somewhat of a lifestyle movement. We are in a unique space where health and wellness is booming and people are spending time and money on their health and mental well-being. We can only hope our passion for all things mental health and meditation is contagious.

ACE: Where can we find out more about you so we can continue to support you?

You can visit us on our Hoame website or our sister business Ease website.

Stay connected with Carolyn + Stephanie: @myhoame