Craft Fellows: How do I finance my creative business?

Facilitated by Gill Thewlis, Victoria Dawes & Caroline Jackson, Talent Development Manager, Crafts Council

A partnership between MAC Birmingham and Craftspace

group of craft fellows standing together at their exhibition launch

The Craft Fellows at their exhibition launch

Session notes

Top Tips from Caroline Jackman, Talent Development Manager, Crafts Council

This guest post was written by Caroline Jackman, Talent and development Manager at Crafts Council, for opportunities and news visit their website:

1. Focus on making your work desirable

2. If you are going to earn money you need to earn multiples of what it costs you to create

3. To understand your indirect and direct competitors, firstly you need to understand who your customer is and from this set your benchmark

4. Create a strong sense of where you want to be and then plot how you are doing to get there.

5. If you determine how you measure success you can map these on a business plan over five years

This session was led by Gill Thewlis from Creative Industry Finance and Aperte and Victoria Claire Dawes a studio potter. Both shared their experiences working in the creative industry and insight into business plans and funding.

Gill works with creative people and offers support with their business development and runs her own bespoke clothing company. She willingly shared her expert advice that she has learnt over the years. She got us to think about what we make, the benefits it provides, competitors, our customers, unique selling points and asked us why people should buy our work specifically. These questions provoked a different way of thinking. Sometimes I get stuck into the making and don’t really ask myself these questions. However, it is important to know the answers when running your own business as this is the main driving force. We learnt how to put together our own cash flow, we got advice on how to make a business plan and tips on how to be confident when selling work. After her talk I definitely feel like I have a better understanding on how to manage financial administration, planning cashflow forecasts and also how to have confidence in my own business.

Victoria Dawes was very inspiring; she shared her journey from graduating to having her own business. It was encouraging to hear because sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking having a business is just one straight road but really there are lots of twists and turns and bumps that you have to get over. Victoria explained the hard work she put into raising money for a new kiln, so she could run her own business. She used Kickstarter which I have heard a lot about throughout the fellowship and she give us tips on how to do it successfully. Victoria is someone who really understands her customers and had a strong sense of where she wanted to be. Hearing her journey gave me some encouragement and showed that you can get where you want to be with a lot of dedication and hard work.

Amarah Simms

Where Next

Craft Fellows: Textiles Masterclass

Textiles masterclass with Richard McVetis and Vanessa Rolf

Variety of booklets lie on a surface.

Craft Fellows: Pain Free Project Planning

Ruth Singer led a workshop about preparing and planning projects

A portrait of the group of makers.

Craft Fellows: Thinking Big & Making it Real

Top tips on business planning from Patricia van de Akker of The Design Trust

A group portrait of the 5 Craft Fellows.

Craft Fellowships at MAC Birmingham

Lots of advice for new designer-makers.


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