Discover 11 secrets of creative success from these designer-makers.
Lush printed textiles, glistening jewellery and sea-blue ceramics fill our newsfeeds and flit into our dreams (and our shopping baskets). But how did the creatives behind such wonders get to where they are now?
Though they work across a host of creative fields, our shortlisted crafters and handmade champions have some things in common when it comes to their achievements. Find out what these talented and thriving curators, designers and makers credit their success to…
Embrace your passion
“My success comes from choosing a medium that I am truly passionate about. There are days when money is tight and motivation is low, but it’s my overriding love for textiles that keeps me going. That and working incredibly hard.” – Miesje Chafer, Best Established Business Award nominee.
Invest in your craft
“It wasn’t until I picked up a second-hand wheel that I became confident in throwing. Plus, I couldn’t live without my kiln. It enabled me to take my hobby to the next level. Firing my own work means I am in control of the results and I can produce enough work to sustain a living. Even though I was a little afraid of it at first, I now love my kiln – she’s called Ronda.” – Kara Ford, Best Start-Up Business Award nominee.
Take risks and set goals
“My parents taught me to always take risks and follow my dreams, and that sometimes breaking the rules is fine! My past training as a life coach taught me to break down goals to make them more achievable, too.” – Isabella Strambio of Two Me, Best Workshops Award nominee.
Carve out your own path
“I studied graphic art and design at university. My classmates were a lot of digital designers but I explored my own process-led, handmade ethos. I focused on printmaking, stop motion animation, collage and ink drawing. I wrote my dissertation about the uniqueness and charm of handmade design.” – Amanda, curator and founder of Head and Hands, Handmade Champion Award nominee.
Build a network of knowledgeable and nurturing creatives
“My creative friends have a lot to answer for. If I have a hint of an idea, but I’m not sure how to pursue it, I usually run it past them and that can turn it into something new altogether. They’re great at helping me get my head around things I’m stuck with – if I want to learn anything new, I just ask my friends. They’re also partly responsible for #MarchMeetTheMaker. I had the idea and wasn’t sure if it was a good idea or not, but they gave me the confidence and encouragement to go forward with it, and look where it is now! A creative support network with people who just ‘get it’ is so important when you’re running a small business on your own.” – Joanne Hawker of #MarchMeetTheMaker, Handmade Champion Award nominee.
“I credit my success to the people I have worked with over the years who have shared their knowledge and experience with me. I studied graphic design at art school after completing my A-levels. My parents weren’t able to follow their creative side so they wanted something different for me.” – Jacqueline Colley, Best Illustrator Award nominee.
Escape from office life – enrol in a craft class
“After my first few weeks working in an office I was desperate to get my hands dirty. I enrolled in pottery evening classes where I got my first taste of clay and soon I was hooked! I was addicted to pottery books and YouTube videos. I went on a few different pottery courses, learning as many different techniques as I could. I used pottery as an escape from the 9-5, hobby pottering alongside my day job for 10 years.” – Kara Ford, Best Start-Up Business Award nominee.
Offer a unique, original style
“I would say that the reason my work has gradually sold better and better is because I’m genuinely trying to offer people originality. I’m not following trends and trying to be like other jewellery brands.” – Rosa Pietsch, Best Established Business Award nominee.
Surround yourself with believers
“I credit my success to the support I have constantly received throughout my studies, career and building my business. I have always been surrounded by people who believe in me and without them I wouldn’t be where I am now.” – Amy of Coco and Wolf, Best Established Business Award nominee.
Thrive on learning
“I have mostly taught myself weaving and embroidery, with guidance and many sewing tips and tricks from my mum, YouTube tutorials, Instagram posts and Pinterest boards. It’s an ongoing learning process that I enjoy – there are so many stitches and techniques within weaving that I find so exciting! I think the key is to dedicate time to practicing your craft and to explore it further to see how they can be used in products.” – Cath Chamberlain, Best Start-Up Business Award nominee.
Have an enterprising spirit
“I’ve been making and selling things for as long as I can remember. It started with mud pies as a toddler and soon progressed to decorating my bedroom, making peg dolls, brooches and soft toys. I had my first stall at a school fete when I was about 10, to sell my wares.” – Lucy Tiffney, Best Start-Up Business Award nominee.
Motivate yourself to keep going
“There are definitely days when I’m really productive and others when I struggle to stay focused, but I generally find just listening to good music or the radio helps me stay on top of things.” – Rosa Pietsch, Best Established Business Award nominee.
“It’s all about creating a good setup, a cheery playlist and plenty of snacks!” – Amanda, curator and founder of Head and Hands, Handmade Champion Award nominee.
Illustration by Becki Clark