Charmed Playhouses has found its niche where imagination meets design. Known for its extravagant, high-quality playhouses that populate backyards around the world, Charmed is embarking on a new adventure, and bringing Lethbridge College students along for the ride.
This summer, Charmed is expanding its brand by opening a themed cottage resort in southern Alberta, bringing the magic of their playhouses to a new clientele, attracting families for a “glamping” experience. To assist in the design of the five cottages that will be built for this summer’s launch, Charmed is hosting practicums for 10 students from the college’s Interior Design Technology (IDT), Architectural Animation Technology (AAT) and Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) programs.
“Our company is all about creativity, we're trailblazers in everything we're doing,” says Tyson Leavitt, Charmed Playhouses founder and CEO, and a former Lethbridge College Business Administration student. “When we have the students come in, with fresh eyes and their excitement to be creative and tap into that fanciful side of their lives, it's fun to see their spins and perspectives on how to do things. And when we give them a little bit of guidance on what we're looking for, and what our vision is, it really is a great way to create some magic.”
The college’s IDT and AAT diploma programs have both focused on preparing students for careers in a rapidly changing industry. Students are introduced to the latest technologies, including 3D modelling software, and virtual and augmented reality. While many students complete practicums at traditional home and industrial contractors, working with Charmed presents a unique opportunity to use and expand their skills in a creative environment.
“Because they're just coming out of school, they have new ideas and they're looking at things in a different way,” says Naama Tuckett, IDT and AAT instructor. “And our students are so familiar with new technologies in drafting, 3D modeling and animating that they can not only build these spaces on paper, but also bring them to life and really show and visualize what the spaces will look like before they’re built.”
The partnership with Charmed was sparked by one request. Second year IDT student Kyla Hornberger was working with Charmed as a photographer and approached Leavitt about doing her practicum with the company. Leavitt loved the idea and wanted to open up the opportunity to as many students as possible. Hornberger is now one of the 10 students taking part in this semester’s practicum with Charmed.
“To be able to work with the Charmed team designing and drafting real-life cabins and see the process, knowing people are going to see it this summer, it's pretty crazy,” says Hornberger. “But then there is accountability that comes with it, it isn't just a fairy tale, it is going to be real. So, I have to get my specifications right, I need a source of information and they're looking to me to know where to find this information. So, it's been it's been nice for accountability.”
The Charmed Family Resort Experience began with a trial of one cottage near Waterton last summer. The expansion will eventually lead to numerous themed cottages in the Crowsnest Pass. Bookings for some cottages are already available on the Charmed website. Leavitt says some of the student designs will become permanent fixtures in the new area.
“It's kind of a full circle, I started at the college when I was 21 years old and I started my first business while I was in college,” says Leavitt. “And now I’m at a point where I have a need within my company to scale the resort side and the college has what I need to be able to help do that. It's a big demand on our company to be able to grow into this resort business, so we're going to have to be hiring talented people. Fortunately for us, we have talented people right up the road at the college with the things they're doing.”
Charmed Playhouses has created a successful business building fantastic, luxurious, quality playhouses and dog houses. The team says it is dedicated to tapping into their clients’ imagination, extracting their vision and making it a reality. Kids at heart, the staff members at Charmed Playhouses understand the importance of childhood memories, and they venture to provide a place where families can bond, grow and learn together.
Lethbridge College’s IDT and AAT programs give students specialized production knowledge and visual communication skills needed to succeed in the world of architecture. Students work on projects that simulate real world design problems and gain professional experience in both commercial and residential architectural design communication. The VR/AR program prepares students for careers in the latest emerging technology, offering opportunities in many industries including education, journalism, healthcare, engineering and architecture.
- Tyson Leavitt, Charmed Playhouses founder and CEO
- Naama Tuckett, IDT and AAT instructor
- Kyla Hornberger, Second year IDT student