Corinne Kessel, CSEP is the Principal of Greenscape Design & Décor, a company that specializes in interior plantscaping and greenery-centric event design. Having worked in the business since 2004, Corinne’s career has grown from administrative tasks to business ownership and entrepreneurship. She also currently serves as the Director on the International Board of Governors for ILEA and is the Immediate Past Chair of ILEA Canada. Needless to say, Corinne has made her mark on the events industry.
Corinne’s career began in theatre, which is also where she had her first taste of entrepreneurship. Corinne shares, “I started my career as a professional performing musician, musical director and composer, primarily in theatre before co-founding November Theatre as the Managing Producer for over 10 years, which is a project-based theatre company committed to producing and creating alternative musicals and works with a heightened performance style. From there I transitioned to working in the events industry, which similarly allowed me to create unique experiences for people and began my career with Greenscape Design & Décor.”
When first starting in the events industry, Corinne was challenged with embracing the networking-side of the business and pushing herself to step outside of her comfort zone.
“One of the biggest challenge was to get connected to other event professionals and potential clients. I am a shy person, so my tendency was towards rearranging plants in the warehouse to increase sales instead of going out and meeting people who might actually help grow my sales,” Corinne explains, “I also didn’t understand the full scope of what the event industry was or did, because my first role involved me sitting at a desk entering orders and it wasn’t until I started asking to go onsite to see the installs that I truly began to understand what live events were about and all the components that went into event production.”
Exposing herself to different aspects of the company allowed Corinne to gain a better understanding of the business and industry as a whole. When Corinne purchased Greenscape Design & Décor in 2007, she faced the new challenge of learning how to run a business.
Corinne shares, “The most challenging situation I’ve faced throughout my career is nearly bankrupting my company. The condensed version is I had two kids very close together and was not paying as close attention to the back-end operations and finances of my business as I normally would. I hadn’t set up strong enough safe-guards to alert me to issues and problems and essentially the company overspent on product and labour to the point of an overwhelming deficit.”
Although Corinne had her challenges, she managed to come out on top by asking for help from people who had been in her shoes and who had relevant experience. “While being just a few months post-partum, I had to stop crying about what happened and fix it, I made tough business and personnel decisions, and I mean tough decisions – it is never easy to let team members go. I cried on very smart shoulders and put my embarrassment of my failure aside and asked smart people for advice. I negotiated with suppliers and clients and banks. I ran a small core team and we all worked incredibly hard together. And a year later, we were stronger than ever.”
When asked what she knows now and wishes she knew at the beginning of her career, Corinne responded, “Ask for help. Find a mentor. Get coaching. Find out what it is that you don’t know and then get help to implement the new knowledge. My only regret is being blissfully unaware of how to run a business and spending much more money on the ‘school of learning it the hard way’ instead of spending the money to get coaching and training upfront.”
Corinne believes that her greatest success in her career so far is, “having one team member reach their 10-year anniversary working with me – being able to provide interesting and challenging work that allows someone to grow with you for 10 years is very rewarding to me.”
What inspires Corinne when she gets up for work in the morning? She shares, “The fact that everyday I am faced with something new. While working in theatre was very rewarding and creatively fulfilling, I do appreciate the fast-paced nature of the event industry and the incredible diversity of what Greenscape does.”
Have questions for Corinne? Want to learn more about her story? Attend her upcoming Event Leader Q&A Webinar on May 29th. Click here to register!
Corinne Kessel, CSEP
Principal, Greenscape Design & Decor
Corinne Kessel, CSEP has more than a decade of experience designing and managing event décor installations in Western Canada. Her hands-on approach, attention to detail, and dedicated team have earned Greenscape Design & Décor a reputation for producing high quality specialty event décor. Her undeniable passion and dedication to the events industry, and the people within it, has positioned her as an industry leader and valued collaborator. Corinne supports those around her, gives back to her community and donates her time to industry associations. Corinne is also a published author, an accomplished musician and most importantly, a tired mom of 2 energetic toddlers!