#NotableYoungPros: Meditation Mentors Carolyn Plater & Stephanie Kersta

It is no secret that our society is overstimulated, overtired, and over-stressed. Carolyn Plater and Stephanie Kersta have made it their mission to decrease the stigma and increase education by implementing preventative measures to help support mental health and wellness.

Through their company Hoame, Carolyn and Stephanie have created a space where individuals can de-stress, relax, and learn mindfulness practices through the art of meditation.

What is Hoame?

We are North America’s largest modern meditation studio. We run guided meditation classes and a have two themed studio spaces, one framed around the concept of lightness which is very awakening and energizing classes, and the other is a dark room with a fibreoptic starry sky which is all about restoring and calming your central nervous system and relaxing. We also do some fun workshops.

How did you get started?

Carolyn: Stephanie and I have been co-workers and friends for almost ten years. We’re both psychotherapists and mental health clinicians. We’ve always been drawn to meditation and mindfulness practice but from a clinical orientation. I was working in emergency medicine, Steph was working in community care. We were implementing these practices but always felt like we were doing reactionary work. We were waiting until people’s mental health had fallen apart or fallen away before mobilizing resources to make them feel better. We wanted to create a space that was not only beautiful aesthetically but also created a community. The reason we came to be is that we wanted to be a place where people could come and decrease their stress, learn more about health and wellness, and some preventative work as well.                   

What type of Notables are you? Are you a creator, an entrepreneur, or a professional?

Stephanie: Always a combo. I would say we are definitely entrepreneurs. We started a corporate consulting business a few years ago and now Hoame. We are both registered, professional psychotherapists. There is also a creative side to it as well. With Hoame, we have been able to tap into our creativity a lot more than we ever thought.       

Carolyn: That’s what has been really fun for me is the creative piece. As professionals, sometimes it’s very clinical, or we don’t get a lot of time to be creative. When we were creating our rooms and spaces and events, we get to bring in a creative element that we didn’t know we had.

What do you want to be known for?

Carolyn: Trying to create a lifestyle movement. I hope that we at Hoame get to be a part of a shift in our society. The path we are going down now is toxic and unsustainable when we look at mental health and stress levels on the rise. I hope we’re playing a small part in creating a shift where people can live life lighter, take care of themselves, and do preventative health work.  

Stephanie: I think of Hoame as an antidote to how we are living our lives. We are so stressed out, and that is something that has become very clear since our opening. We’ve always been into making people lives better.

What does ambition mean to you?

Carolyn: Having a goal and going for it no matter what. That has been evident in what we’ve been doing. This was ten years in the making, not something that happened overnight. Ambition means having that drive and vision no matter what stands in the way of your goals.

Stephanie: I agree with that and also being authentic to yourself and authentic to your goal. Having a goal that is true to you and your values and morals is very rewarding to see.

Looking back, are there moments that stand out in your life as defining moments?

Carolyn: A big defining moment for me is when I was in undergrad, and I thought I would go into law or teaching. I was taking English, and I hated it. It made me think about what I was going to do because I had built everything towards this career. Someone told me you have to take a science course as part of your degree and so I took psych because it was the ‘easy science,’ and I remember sitting in second-year university in a psych course and being like “this is what I’m supposed to do!” I literally went down to the registrar’s office, switched my major, had no idea what I was going to do with psych but just knew that this is what I want to be. It changed my life.

Stephanie: My abnormal psych professor told me that I needed to volunteer. Thinking back, they asked me what my interests were, and I said: “yoga and shopping” (laughs) I was twenty! I ran a breathing group, a yoga group, for the in-patients and it was so interesting to me to see the difference and having people be excited. I always thought I wanted to go into research. After my year of volunteering, I got into research at CAMH in another volunteer position during my undergrad, and I hated it. I realized that I wanted to work with people, and I never thought I would. That was very defining for me.      

What would you consider your biggest accomplishment to date?

Both: Opening Hoame!

Carolyn: It was the most challenging with the most emotional highs and lows. After our first opening day, we looked at each other and said: we did it!

Stephanie: It was like Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland. There were high highs and low lows. A close second was nailing our first corporate client with our corporate consulting company, Ease. It was just us, and we got a big corporate client, and we didn’t even have a website. It gave us a belief in ourselves.  

What parts of your personality, skills, or approach have helped your career?

Stephanie: Carolyn is the most understanding person I have ever met. She is so inspiring and good at seeing every perspective. She is very even-balanced and has great ideas.

Carolyn: Stephanie is a visionary. She has been the big dreamer concerning what we do. When it comes to things like events and the creative stuff, I don’t know where her genius comes from. She is a networker extraordinaire.

What is one piece of advice that changed everything for you?

Stephanie: Approach everyone with curiosity. Networking gets a bad rep. If you approach it as being genuinely interested in getting to know someone or making a friend, that’s a big thing.

Carolyn: Be genuine and authentic. That has served us well.

What’s the next challenge or project you’re tackling?

Stephanie: We are going to have a big wellness summit. It’s going to be a full day affair. We’re going to look at the science behind cutting-edge trends in healthcare and wellness and self-care. It’s going to be really fun.

Carolyn: We have a lot coming down the pipe regarding education as well that has never been done before in the way it’s coming out as well as the content.

Where can we learn more about you and connect with you?

You can find us on Instagram @myhoame or on our website or in person at 430 Adelaide St W, Toronto.