We had the good fortune of connecting with Carlee Krichmar and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Carlee, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I created Explore to Heal, it was simply a game I started to host for me and two friends with the objective of cultivating important conversations around our different views, experiences and feelings, but in a playful way. I hosted it once a week for about a month, and started to include new elements and features that would strengthen the game’s purpose. As it evolved, I realized it could serve myself and others in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I began inviting more friends, and friends invited friends, and that formed what is now called Group Exploration, where five strangers gather over zoom and share their experiences, express themselves and get vulnerable with one another. The positive response participants had after each game made me want to share it with more people. Eventually my family let me try it with them, and I experienced firsthand the significantly positive effect Explore to Heal could have with family members. I started to host Family Explorations with friends and their families, and the ongoing successful results led me to consider what other groups of people could benefit from it. From there I began to connect with rehabilitation centers, where people were literally there to heal and could benefit from trying it with a completely different approach.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Explore to Heal is a culmination of everything I think is important to address and practice in our society. It is a game that uses play to help us learn more about the way we think, revisit the narratives and beliefs we hold, and practice looking at ourselves and others from a place of genuine curiosity, rather than judgement or blame. Every job I have had in the field of child development and education has strengthened my ability to see the unique gifts or skills of others, hear a person that is struggling, and use my own intrinsic gifts to help them. With Explore to Heal, I created a space where individuals can learn and grow the same way children learn best; through play. As far as lessons I have learned, I think that recognizing when a job is no longer serving you, or when you have outgrown a job, is critical if you want to have a positive quality of life. Since entering the professional world after college, it has always been important to me to have a job that paid me to do something I loved, rather than a job that just paid the bills. I have always known that I enjoyed helping, hearing and guiding people, but it took me time to realize what that looked like as a dream career. There have been times I really wanted a job or idea to be “the one” and I tried to make it fit into my plans, but it never quite fit the way I had hoped, or for as long as I’d expected, until I created Explore to Heal. Consciously taking time to pause and reset has been critical for my success and happiness. There have been a few times over the last ten years that I made some pretty seemingly impulsive decisions that affected my career path, but I have always taken what I learned, liked and didn’t like about a job and used that knowledge to create a business I believed in, and design it exactly the way I wanted.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I think San Diego is one of the coolest cities on the planet. If I could plan an itinerary for someone to come visit I would first get them grounded in Ocean Beach. I would have them take a stroll along Newport and end up at the pier side of the beach, then walk down to dog beach and pick up some of the lovely energy of all the happy beach dogs. I would have them enjoy a nice dinner at Civico 1845 and definitely checkout the vegan menu. They would also need to grab some drinks and dinner and Kindred, an extremely delicious and cool-vibed vegan restaurant in South Park. If they are dog people, whether they have their dog with them or not, I would tell them to take a walk around the Grape Street Dog Park, because besides the dog friends, it is a beautiful park with really great views. If they are active, I would recommend they checkout the Thursday evening Ultimate Frisbee pickup league at Balboa Park, where they could find kind and friendly ultimate frisbee players of all skill levels, and just jump in a game. If they were visiting at the beginning of a month and were interested in trying out dancing, I would have them go to First Friday Fusion in Miramar where they could take a beginners dance lesson then enjoy open dancing the rest of the night. If they’re lucky, they might catch be DJ’ing a event. For fun drinks and appetizers I would recommend Polite Provisions in University Heights and also the speak easy, False Idol in Little Italy. For outdoors stuff, without a doubt they would need to hike along Torrey Pines and Sunset Cliffs. If you believe answers exist within you, those places are a vehicle to access them.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My immediate shoutout goes to my friends Charlie Kern and Alyssa Fesler for being the first adapters of Explore to Heal. They trusted me with their time, vulnerability and openness. Their friendship, support and presence in my life helped me to believe in and trust myself throughout this entire process. Another shoutout goes to my family for trusting me and being open to enter what was a very foreign space for all of us to be in together. Their participation in Explore to Heal was what helped me understand the scope of impact it could have. Shoutout to my friend Kiel Howe for immediately recognizing the beauty of Explore to Heal, sharing his fantastic brain, and creating the Explore to Heal app, literally from the goodness of his wonderful heart. Shoutout to my friend Randal Slisz for sharing his video editing and design magic, and for being an ongoing awesome co-creator. Shoutout to one of my besties and fellow entrepreneur sisters, Sara Bendrick for all the helpful advice and unconditional support she has given me throughout this process and to Lily Taylor for all the open and honest conversations she created space for us to be able to have and grow form. Shoutout to Wes Montgomery, for volunteering all of his impeccable counsel, legal advice and time. Finally, shoutout to all my other friends and colleagues for taking a chance and agreeing to play what could have been a strange and awkward game – your participation, feedback and support is what has allowed Explore to Heal to succeed.

Website: exploretoheal.com

Instagram: @exploretoheal

Linkedin: exploretoheal

Facebook: Explore to Heal

Youtube: Explore to Heal

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