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Meet Tuey Connell of Carmel Creative in Near North

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tuey Connell.

Tuey, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
At 8 years of age, my Mother started taking me to banjo lessons. Fast forward and I became a professional musician – banjo, guitar, voice, chromatic harmonica and playing all over Chicago. Got signed to Minor Music – German Jazz, Blues + R&B label. Played The Kennedy Center, performed on over 200 jingle and recording sessions. Toured as a sideman and leader, composed music all over US, Mexico and Europe. While living in Brooklyn, NY with my wife, Karen Connell, got burnt out on the broken music business. I loved the music, the language of music and the amazing musicians I was fortunate enough to know, learn from and play with but grew to loath the business of music. It is simply awful. Played and/or recorded with Taj Mahal, Vassar Clements, Arturo Sandoval and many others but the best musicians were the ‘no-name’ burners who taught me so much about communication.

Fast forward, started Carmel Creative out of an older entertainment agency called Carmel Music + Entertainment. We now produce shows all over North America – destination experiences, corporate meetings, conferences and shows. We are fortunate enough to be a lean and agile boutique agency that strives to deliver on the promise that when you bring good people together with creative design, detailed logistics, and comprehensive production solutions, people are engaged and moved to further a cause or a call to action. Everything is about communication and I love it when it is live and executed really well.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Smooth? You mean running a small communication and experiential agency? No way! It is a gut out every single time you wake up and go to work. It’s not as if we are making blue widgets in sizes 6, 7 and 8. Each ‘show’ or experience we create is a custom experience. The only repeatable aspect is the gannt chart buckets we start with and our process of ‘getting there’ through careful listening, research, brainstorming and conversation. Then the fun begins as we take a voyage through different approaches to finding the right solution.

The challenges are myriad and usually reside at the crossroads of time and money. Both are finite resources so efficiency is a priority but never in sacrifice of serving the needs of the client and the client’s objective. We always strive to over deliver not matter what and it is hard to exceed expectations in today’s technology world.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Carmel Creative story. Tell us more about the business.
At the core, we are communicators – visual, aural, tactile, olfactory…it is the cumulative experience that we strive to deliver on. For the amazing Chicago organization Big Shoulders Fund www.bigshouldersfund.org, we just wrote original music, recorded it, contracted a Broadway star, choreographed 100+ students, created 35+ motion graphics assets, and wrote a show that totally rocked. BSF is a beacon of light for the city of Chicago and frankly, for any city in the US as their mission is to help students graduate from high school and matriculate to college. Karen and I support 4 students each year with their tuition at their respective Catholic school and we are so proud to do so. BSF is making a difference in the world.

But if you wanted a block statement…here is a bit of what we do:
We design, produce and manage experiences that broadcast brand and client messaging with a balance of energy and finesse through engaging events.

I think that companies, associations and organizations have come to realize that we are great listeners, that we care deeply about their success and that we are extremely organized and focused while delivering creative solutions to their live event needs. Our clients include or have included: America’s Cup, 1871/CEC, FIRST National Robotics Championship, Brown-Forman, World Business Chicago – Chicago Venture Summit, Skadden & Arps, Boston Consulting, and many many more.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
My glass is always half-full. Call it luck of the Irish or whatever, but I am always looking at the bright side of life and people. Positive Vibes! I believe that you make your own luck and I always have through serious hard work. Growing up on our vineyard in North Stonington, CT, we always had to work and as my Father always said, “If you work hard, you will make your own luck.” The foundation for luck and good fortune is a solid work ethic.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Greg Rothstein

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