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

Hi Maria, how do you think about risk?
I think taking risks is so embedded in my whole being that I don’t ever consciously choose the easiest path in my life and career. Moving to the USA from the UK in 2002 was a very briefly calculated risk! I was in my thirties, living in London with my husband and young daughter, with a stressful career managing the Special Needs Provision in a very challenging Elementary School. I needed a reset and I knew I wanted to have another child away from the stresses of London life. We moved to California, staying with family and at every turn, over 18 years, we have always chosen the hardest route, and taken the greatest risk in order to fulfill our dream of making a life in the US.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My business is E11 Creative. E11 has provided Arts Administration and Project Management alongside hands-on progressive arts education for children ages 3+, since 2012. E11 Creative Workshop for Children has taught hundreds of children from Manitou and Colorado Springs both Preschool, Afterschool and Summer-long Camps. Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced us to close our children’s Reggio Emilia and Teaching-for-Artistic-Behavior-inspired workshop. For eight years at the Manitou Art Center, we have guided children to behave like artists, to become aesthetically literatecy from a very young age, putting real tools and art materials in the hands of children as young as 3. We started E11 with just two students, and grew to 15 a day in our unique preschool program with 30 families in total and a long waitlist. We encountered many challenges along the way but the most significant was our struggle to remain in the USA on an E2 immigration visa. We renewed our visa 7 times before we received our Green Card. There were many times that we were close to giving up and moving back to the UK. I believe that resiliency is one of the most powerful indicators of small business success, and of course, during the pandemic, the ability to pivot and revise strategic plans to account for these challenging times is essential. E11 grew from modest roots providing Early Years Arts-based educational opportunities to providing Arts Administration Services such as my collaboration, managing the Green Box Festival Children’s Camp on behalf of School District 14, to project managing the development of the Manitou Made eCommerce site, building the Manitou Made Learning Community LMS, and managing projects at the Manitou Art Center. Despite the closure of E11’s workshop, our mission continues to be to support and promote aesthetic literacy and creativity to children and adults in our community, and we are excited for future opportunities to do so!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When friends and family visit from the UK, I love to show them sites that are iconically Rocky Mountain and the most contrast to back home. Coming from the East End of London, having Garden of the Gods as my local park is a huge contrast! It’s hard to beat the diversity of cuisine back home but Urban Tandoor, and Eim Thai do a good job. Breakfast at Adam’s Mountain Cafe, or The Pantry in Green Mountain Falls makes a great start to a day of sightseeing in and around Manitou Springs. My favorite hang out is always the Manitou Art Center and I am always so proud to introduce my UK friends and family to my American friends at the MAC. 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 husband, Alain Navaratne – always right along there with me

Website: www.e11cw.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/e11_creative_workshop/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/e11cw

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.