Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.


Navigate / search

No matter where you are, the Circle is for you. (12 hours left to register)





Hey Thriver,

During the last day, while Thriver Circle membership has been open, I’ve had a number of emails from people all over the world, asking me – ‘Jess, I’m not in Australia, is the Thriver Circle for me?’

My answer? Absolutely! The beauty of an online community like this is that it’s always available, no matter where you live or what timezone you’re in.

  • The workshops are available for you to watch and listen to whenever it suits you.

  • The times of the calls will be different each month to ensure everyone can join in (maybe not every month, but most months) no matter what timezone you’re in. And if you miss one, the recording will be available whenever you are. (I’m actually going to be over in the UK/Europe myself for 3 months in the middle of this year, running the Circle from there!)

  • You can jump into the FB group at any time – leave your questions, help someone else out by answering theirs… and catch up on what’s been happening while you were sleeping (or working, of course).


There are people in the Circle from Australia, NZ, the USA, Canada, the UK, Europe + more. Geography isn’t a boundary for our Circle!

The community is already 140+ people strong, but there’s still space for you to join us.

Remember – after this, membership won’t open again until the end of April.

And you’ll never again get the chance to try the Circle out for this low, Foundation Member price (just $30 for the first 3 months).

Membership Closes In…


You can join us here.

Jess xx

P.S. If you’d like to know more about how the calls work, visit the FAQ page here.

Thriver Circle Foundation Membership Is Open {For 48 Hours Only}




Hey Thriver,

It’s here.

A private, positive community of makers – just like you – who are serious about crafting thriving businesses.


I’ve opened the doors of the Thriver Circle to Foundation Members for 48 hours only. 


When you join the Circle, you get:

  • A private, positive community forum – full of fellow creatives who are there to help you and keep you accountable (and I’ll be hanging out there, too).
  • One exclusive workshop from me every month, covering topics like pricing, selling online, marketing, social media, photography, self-care… and more. Oh, and you can request workshops, too. These are not available anywhere else.
  • A monthly call with me, during which 2 members of the Circle get 30 minutes of one-on-one time with me in a Business Intensive + a Q&A session at the end.
  • Early notification whenever I launch a course or program. That means, if there are limited spots, you get first dibs!
  • Detailed Member Profiles, where you can list your website, social media links, and tell us more about you – to help you connect with your fellow makers and build strong relationships.


If you want to be part of the Circle, don’t hesitate.

General membership is only open 4 times a year, for 48 hours at a time. The next intake isn’t until the end of April, and membership will close on Wednesday the 28th of Jan at 9am Australian EST (convert to your timezone – if you’re in the US, this is Tuesday afternoon).

Become a Foundation Member today for just $10 a month for the first 3 months (paid upfront). Then, ongoing membership is on a monthly basis, for just $15 per month.

My goal is for you to be learning what you need to in order to turn that small $15 a month investment in to hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars a month income from your business.

Let’s make it happen, together.


You can join us here, or find out more.

Jess xx

P.S. Leave a comment if you have any questions!

P.P.S. Please don’t hesitate if you want to join. I’ll be closing the doors right before I get on a plane to New Zealand, so there will be no extensions or exceptions.

Meet the New Assistant Editor – Kath Chown!

So, as I told you all earlier in the month, the amazing Megan E has moved on from her position as my Right-Hand Gal here at C&T… because her own biz is just too successful now! I was happy/sad to have her leave us… but, as luck would have it, a certain awesome lady was ready and willing to jump on board and join the C&T team. You might recognise Kath from the How to Sell More at Markets & Shows e-course we collaborated on late in 2015. But I wanted to give you the chance to get to know her a little better, as you’ll be seeing more of her in C&T land from here on in. I’ll let her tell you more…



Hello! My name is Kath and I have been asked on board by the incredible Jess Van Den {Note from Jess: I totally didn’t tell her to say that, honest} to her Create & Thrive team. I feel so honoured and proud to be here and can’t wait to be a part of this great space where you can learn how achieve your creative business goals. It’s all very exciting!

My background is in retail, banking and administration and I have also owned my own successful bricks and mortar handmade store for three years in Brisbane. I have now closed the doors on Handmade High Street to follow a job for my husband to another city, but I still have a smaller version of the shop inside another local business. Through these ventures I have always aimed to help artisans find a platform for selling their work in a retail setting through subleasing space, taking commission or wholesaling.

While I also create handmade products to sell, my focus has always been on helping other artisans to achieve their business dreams. I have helped out in various capacities with lots of creative groups including non profit group BrisStyle as the previous President where I honed my skills and added to my business, markets, social media, teaching and marketing knowledge. I also wrote a whizz bang eCourse for C&T to show you How Sell More At Markets & Shows, where I shared some of my knowledge gained from 13+ years in the retail biz.

Since my B&M shop took up much of my time over the last three years, I am really ready to get stuck into the ‘creating’ side of my business again by stepping up my sales game with my handmade candles and soaps. I am also focussing on teaching hands-on crafts to keen students with my Beginner’s Crochet and Rag Rugging classes where I work privately and as a guest for other businesses.

I feel like it’s going to be a busy but really exciting year and I am so stoked to be here with you all as we continue on our creative business journeys together!

xxx K

8 Places to Get Help with your Handmade Business





Crafting a handmade business can be a lonely pursuit.

Usually, when we start out, we’re doing it on our own, because we’ve decided that we’d like to have a crack at selling this thing we love to create when we’re holed up in creative solitude.

The trouble is, of course, that we have limited time, energy, and knowledge.

The honest truth is that even though most of us start out as solopreneurs, there is no way we can make any significant progress without the help of others.

That help can come in many forms. It might be our spouse helping us lug heavy stuff to and from a market. It might be someone to bounce our ideas off because we’re not sure if we’re going in the right direction. It might be someone who teaches us that crucial piece of information that makes all the difference. Sometimes, it’s even just someone who will tell us that we CAN do this thing we dream of. We need mental, physical, and emotional support, because growing a business is hard, and we come up against so many obstacles on the path.

So, where do we find that help? Not all of us are blessed with people close to us that support and understand us. Even if we are, they might not know anything about handmade business, so we still need to connect with people who do to help us. There are also pros and cons to any sort of support we rely on – so it’s actually really important to find a mix of people and ways to help us.

Here are 8 places you can turn to find help on your handmade business journey.



Parents, kids, spouses… family is often the first port of call when we need help with our burgeoning handmade businesses.

If we’re lucky enough to have someone close to us that both has the time and the desire to help us out, we are truly blessed. These people love us, and they want us to succeed. They have the best kind of vested interest.

I got really, really lucky when it came to help from this particular direction. There’s no way I could have done what I have without the help and support of Nick – my husband and all-around super-helpful-and-awesome guy.

Not only emotional support – being my sounding board, having complete confidence in me that I can do anything I set my mind to (and being happy to go along with my crazy schemes) – but also the everyday, ‘mundane’ support of keeping our lives running. You know, doing the shopping, feeding me, and all those other domestic tasks. He is my absolute bedrock, and I’m incredibly lucky that he said yes when I proposed to him all those years ago. He’s also stepped more and more into the business over the years, and now he does a number of things – like the bookeeping, and a lot of the jewellery making – which frees me up to work on other things (like Create & Thrive!).

I also grew up with the inherent support of my parents. Sure, I did well in school, and they were always proud of my achievements – BUT, and I think this has had a HUGE impact in the fact that I felt free enough to choose my own path – they also brought me up to believe that I didn’t have to follow the traditional path.

Two things they used to say have stuck with me. The first is that Mum always told me to dance to the beat of my own drum. The second is they both told me once, when I was still in high-school and deciding what direction to take with my life, that I could be anything and they’d be proud of me.

Their point was, of course, that they were proud first and foremost of who I was, not what I do. This type of emotional support is not to be taken lightly. When we have it, we can sometimes take it for granted. And when we don’t everything can seem 100 times harder, because we’re not only struggling with all the regular challenges of growing a business, but with the doubt of those who are closest to us, as well.



Friends are the family you choose, right? So, our friends are often our greatest cheerleaders (and if they aren’t? Maybe it’s time to find some new friends…). Old friends, new friends, crafty and non-crafty friends – they’re all places to turn for support.

My best friend is unfailingly enthusiastic and supportive of all my dreams and schemes. When we talk, she never fails to ask me how my latest project is going. She also never fails to remind me that I can – and will – kick ass in everything I do. Even if I don’t believe it – she does, and that can sometimes make all the difference. She’s also hilarious, and always, always makes me laugh. That is not a skill to be taken lightly!

Think about your friends. Think about their skills and knowledge. Is there someone in your life who could help you with some aspect of your business that you haven’t reached out to? Maybe you’ve got a friend who’s a photographer, who’d love to give you some help with your product photography, or even take some shots for you in exchange for an awesome home-cooked lunch. Maybe you’ve got a friend who runs a different type of business, who you can ask about marketing and advertising. Maybe you’ve got someone who’s artistic, who you can bounce your design ideas off.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends – after all, friendship is all about the give-and-take of supporting each other in life, and people really do love to help those they care about!


Local Organisations + Classes

What if you aren’t lucky enough to currently have friends or family who can support you? If you’re a people-person, and you crave face-to-face interaction, then local organisations are the place to look.

Most major cities have craft groups and guilds you can join. Here in Brisbane, we of course have the awesome BrisStyle, and there are many, many different guilds for any craft you can think of.

Craft and business classes are also a great place to find like-minded people. Take a course in some aspect of your work that you could use more knowledge in. Really make an effort to connect with your classmates, and you might find a new friend (or a few!).

I’ve made loads of wonderful friends via being an active member of BrisStyle, and I’ve gotten so much help and support from those people over the years – not to mention collaborations (this year alone, I’m creating a course with a fellow BrisStyler, AND I got to know the new C&T Assistant Editor, whom you’ll meet later this week, via BrisStyle, too).

Find a class or organisation that appeals to you, and really get involved. You never know who you might meet, and how they might become part of your life and business down the line.


Teams + Forums Online

There are HEAPS of public forums out there online where you can ask questions and seek advice. The Etsy forums are one example of this.

These can be great places to find info and see what has worked for other crafters.

However, there are a few downsides of public teams and forums. The main one is that anyone (including your customers!) can see what you’ve written. So, if you’ve ever got any sensitive customer support issues, my advice is NEVER post them in these places. Same goes for any potentially sensitive business information, and rants. Let’s be honest – we all have problems and we all like a good rant now and again, but the best place for this sort of thing is in private, with people who understand we’re just blowing off steam because we’re frustrated. Don’t let a moment of frustration snowball into something that ruins your reputation (it happens).

You also don’t necessarily know the people who you interact with in these places, so you’ve got to be careful… because while I like to believe most people are inherently helpful and honest, some folks really aren’t going to tell you things that are in your best interest. There is also a LOT of envy, negativity, and snark in these places, unfortunately. None of which I have any time for, or any wish to expose myself to.

For these reasons, I don’t really hang out in public forums any more. I did when I started out, because I didn’t know better – but after getting burned a few times, I learnt my lesson.

Go there to read what others have written – you can learn a lot – but be wary about what you share.



I’m sure that during your journey, you have read a LOT of blogs (like this one, of course) that give advice on all things handmade business.

Blogs are invaluable. They are the hive-mind of humanity. They are where we share the lessons we’ve learnt, the pieces of wisdom we most want to share, the things that have worked and the things that haven’t.

I really don’t know how people coped before the internet! It must have been so much harder to learn about business – and, of course, much harder to grow a business without the worldwide platform for selling and marketing that the internet has gifted us.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to make a list of your favourite crafty biz blogs to refer to. Subscribe to their emails, follow them on feedly or flipboard – however you do it, craft yourself a treasure trove of knowledge (and don’t forget to plunder the archives of these blogs, either!).

Just remember, before you enact advice you’ve read on a blog, to consider the author of the piece. Who are they, what have they done, what are they doing, how have they come across this knowledge, and how applicable is it to you in your particular business and situation? All advice does not work for everyone – so it’s important to be discerning in what you absorb and enact, and what you let pass by. You could spend your whole life reading blogs and never actually DO anything.

Make sure that the doing gets done, and you don’t end up paralysed because you’re waiting for that perfect piece of advice before you start.

Don’t blog-crastinate!



Sometimes, you just get to the point where you can’t do it all yourself, and you’ve grown beyond the point where occasional help from your friends and family bridges the gap.

When that happens, you have two options. One – you pull back, re-asses, and cut down your workload. Two – you embrace the growth… and hire someone to help you.

There are lots of ways you can bring someone else on board your crafty biz ship. The best thing to do is to start by being honest with yourself. Which tasks do you know are vital to your business… but that you really don’t enjoy doing? Do you drag your feet when it comes to bookeeping? Do you think you might stab yourself in the eye with ribbon if you have to tie one more bow on a parcel? Do you REALLY just want someone to help you with your marketing?

Whatever those tasks are, they are the ones to start delegating to someone else.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. One – I can’t afford it. Two – they’ll never do it as well as I can!

Why hello there, fellow perfectionist. I feel your pain. But I have also pushed through it, and you know what? Some of the tasks I have let go of, well… that other person has ended up doing a WAY better job than I ever did, because they were either just more skilled, or they weren’t doing it begrudgingly.

Nick does an AWESOME job of packing up our jewellery orders. Seriously, that man knows how to tie a mean bow. Megan E – who has moved on to bigger and better things, but was my right-hand lady online for 4 years – was brilliant at reaching out and connecting with new people to interview on the blog. Of course, they both also have eleventy-billion other superpowers, but I hope you get the idea.

And, on the cost? Well, start small. Choose one, defined task, and hire someone to do it. See how it goes. Go from there.

But don’t let fear of expense or your perfectionism hold you back if growth is your goal. You will never be able to grow past a certain point if you insist on going it alone. On the flipside? If you WANT to keep it a one-person business, you’ll need to plan for that, and ensure you don’t take on more work that you can handle.


Mentors (& Coaches)

Mentors are absolute gold – but they’re also hard to find. A mentorship is usually a one-on-one relationship that is mostly one-way (at least when it comes to the sharing of knowledge and experience), and exists without any financial transaction. For this reason, most successful people have very little time for mentoring, and when they do mentor, they take it seriously, because they value their time immensely.

The best way to gain a mentor is to gain a friend, first. I often get emails from people asking me loads of questions, which I encourage. I might not be able to answer them all in detail, but I do like hearing what you’re doing, and what you’re struggling with.

I also get emails from strangers flat-out asking me to mentor them. My response is always (and will always be) no.

If I don’t know you, why would I choose to mentor you? Mentorship is built on trust. If I choose someone to mentor, it’s going to be because we’ve already built a relationship, and I already trust and admire them and their work ethic. We all have limited time, and so that time is best invested in someone who has already shown me that they are going to take what I teach them and action it.

If you know of someone who you would LOVE to have as a mentor, the best thing you can possibly do is help them first. Reach out, be friendly, help them in any way you think you can. Without expectations. Start with giving. Show them you are serious about your business, that you are honest and trustworthy, and that you care about them as a human being first. If you’re lucky, they’ll end up reaching out to you, and offering you help and advice. And so a mentorship is born.

If there’s not someone in your life whom you think could become a mentor, then a coach or advisor is a really awesome person to have in your corner. But they are going to cost you. A good coach won’t come cheap, and I know that most of you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on having someone guiding you. At least, you don’t yet…

I’ll be honest – I don’t have a coach or advisor. I’ve never had one. I see the value, and it’s in my plan to work with someone one day… but so long as I’m still kicking goals and happy with the direction my business is going, I’m going to wait on taking that step. I’ve always been extremely independent and self-motivated, so I don’t struggle as much as some people when it comes to getting stuff done. Some people, however, REALLY benefit from having that person to hold them accountable and guide them on their journey. If you’re one of those people, then a coach or advisor might be something to plan for.


Online Communities

Finally, we come to online communities. By an online community, I mean a (usually) paid membership that gives you access to a private community of like-minded people.

There are quite a few online communities for makers out there (I’m launching one myself next Monday) – all of which have their own benefits. The beauty of this sort of community is that it is full of people who are on the same journey as you – facing the same struggles and asking the same questions.

It’s also (well, it SHOULD be) a private, safe space to ask for help with sensitive issues (like difficulties with a customer). Most of these communities have other benefits, too, like ebooks or courses, workshops, group calls, etc. So, you both give and receive help and support from fellow makers, AND get guidance from someone who knows their stuff.

Again, just like blogs, before you join a community like this, get to know the person behind it – do they walk the talk? Do they really know what they’re talking about? Are they a good teacher? Do you resonate with their teaching style and personality? Who are the other people in their community? Have they already helped you via the free info they’ve put out into the world? Do you trust them?

Also consider what you are getting for your money. Can you afford it? Are you getting value for what you pay? Can you join or leave at any time, or are you locked in by having to pay a big up-front fee? What happens if the community isn’t a good fit for you?

Online communities can be a huge help on your journey. I know that many of my students from Set Up Shop have told me that having a private forum with fellow students has been immeasurably valuable to them, because there was just nowhere else they could turn to connect with so many people who understood them. Definitely consider this as one option – and as an investment in your business (membership should be tax-deductible, after all!) – if you find a community that you connect with.


I’d love to hear your thoughts, Thriver. Where do you turn when you need help with your handmade business?


If joining a private, positive online community full of like-minded and motivated makers appeals to you, I’m launching the Thriver Circle next Monday! For just $10 a month for the first 3 months you’ll become part of a vibrant community as well as receive exclusive monthly workshops and calls with me.

If you want guidance and support to help your business thrive, check out all the details here. Membership is only open 4 times a year, so don’t miss the 48-hour registration window if you want to become one of our Foundation Members.

Coming Soon: A New Community for Makers – The Thriver Circle





One of the things that has come out of the 2014 C&T Questionnaire is the desire for a community space where creatives who are serious about making a success of their handmade businesses can help each other out and learn in a private, safe, and supportive environment.

Those of us on this handmade biz journey often come up against two big challenges – info overwhelm and a feeling of isolation.

There is just SO much information out there about how to grow a successful business. How do we know what advice to follow?

We often come across conflicting information, and end up throwing our hands up in frustration… because we just feel overwhelmed and unable to choose a direction. And that results in us stagnating and going nowhere.

I will say to you now that no-one will ever be able to tell you with 100% surety that one way or the other is better for you… but my gosh, it sure does help when you have a group of people who are on the same journey, who understand your exact business, and who you trust to tell you the truth about the pros and cons.

It also helps to have someone give you trust give you some structure – someone who will draw out the key lessons on a topic so you don’t have to invest eons of time to work it out by yourself. You save time, and you save mental energy. That’s more time and energy to work in your business, doing what you love – the making.

This can be such a lonely, isolating journey, too. So often, the people in our lives – the ones we are closest to – just don’t ‘get’ it. They don’t understand why we want to do this – or perhaps they don’t even believe us when we say it is possible.

They might even scoff at the idea that you can make good money from selling your handmade creations, because the idea just seems so unconventional. Even if they DO understand and support us, they do so in a loving but vague way – chances are they don’t have any idea of the actual intricacies of starting and growing a handmade business.

This is why it is so beneficial to connect with our fellow makers. Because they get it. They understand, intimately, what we are going through – because they’re going through exactly the same challenges as us.

I believe in the power of peer learning – I used it all the time back when I was a classroom teacher.

I believe that we learn best from others who are walking the same path as us – but who are a little bit further ahead, so they can point out the pitfalls… and the breathtaking views not to be missed.

I believe in the concept of cooperation rather than competition. Other people’s successes are to be celebrated and learnt from, not envied.

I believe that when we help each other out, we all win. Because there’s enough pie for all of us. (Mmm… pie…)


And so, I’ve decided to create a space that allows you – lovely maker and passionate entrepreneur – to connect, collaborate, support, and learn from your peers – with me as your chief mentor and guide.


It’s called the Thriver Circle, and it’s opening to Foundation Members on Monday, the 26th of January.


General membership will open only 4 times a year – but members will also have the ability to personally invite their friends to join the Circle at any time.

Membership is on a monthly basis – you can leave the Circle at any time if you feel it’s not for you any more. I know that you don’t have oodles of money sitting around to spend on your biz, and that’s why the monthly membership fee is about the same as what you’d pay for a cup of coffee and a magazine – just $15 AUD. Foundation Members will pay even less – the first 3 months for Foundation Members will be just $10 per month (paid upfront).


So, what do you get when you join the Thriver Circle?


With membership to the Thriver Circle, you not only gain the benefit of a strong, positive community of other people just like you – striving to grow their handmade businesses – you also get exclusive teaching & guidance only available to members.


A Positive & Supportive Community

This community will have its home in a private Facebook group – so it’s easy for you to use and access. We are all ourselves in the Circle – no anonymous members or trolls in here!

If you’ve been yearning for a safe, private space, full of handmade business owners – both new and seasoned – with whom you can connect, learn from, and share your own discoveries, then the Thriver Circle is what you’ve been looking for.

All members must agree to abide by a Community Charter when they join – and anyone found to not have followed those guidelines will be asked to leave the Circle. It is a place for support, care, positivity and education – it’s a Circle for those who are upbeat and serious about growing their handmade business – negativity and pessimism don’t help anyone grow.

You are also, of course, able to ask questions, share useful information, ask for feedback etc. from your fellow members in the Circle at any time. This is YOUR space.

I will be hanging out there on a daily basis to give my support and feedback wherever I can, too.


Member Profiles

Each Circle member will have a private member profile visible to other members of the Circle, where you can list your name, business name, what you make, your website, your social media links, your city, state and country , and more about you (these are all optional). You can also friend other Circle members and send private messages – perfect for when you’re working with a Buddy (more on that below)!

This makes it easy for members to find other members with whom they have things in common, and make connections. (Hey, you make ceramics and live in London too? Awesome – let’s grab a coffee!).


Monthly Workshops

At the beginning of each month, members will receive an exclusive workshop – available in video, audio, and written format – that they can access at any time. New members will also gain access to all previous workshops when they join, and all members will retain access to all of them for as long as they remain in the Circle. You can also request workshops on specific topics!

These workshops are not available to the public- they are for members only.

Currently available workshops (yes, these will be available immediately to Foundation Members):

  • January 2015: What’s Your Why: How to Build YOUR Ideal Business
  • February 2015: Selling Online: The Fundamentals

Upcoming workshops:

  • March 2015: Essential Tactics to Grow your Instagram Following
  • April 2015: Pricing with the Head + Heart
  • May 2015: How to Write a PR Pitch
  • June 2015: Critique Yo’ Self
  • + more…


Monthly Live Business Intensive Call

Members will be able to nominate themselves for a live business intensive with me and other members of the Circle… which will be recorded for those who can’t attend. Each call will have 2 of these intensives + a Q&A session at the end.

Each member chosen for an intensive will have 30 minutes with me and the other Circle members on the call focussed on them and their business. The recipients of the intensive will be drawn randomly from those who have put themselves forward that month – pledging that they will be attending the live call.

I will rotate the time of these calls each month so people in different timezones will be able to attend at least once every few months.


There will also be regular community events, such as:

‘Buddy-ups’ – where you nominate to be placed with a buddy so you can help each other out, one-on-one. This gives you the opportunity to grow a close, mutually beneficial relationship with a fellow Thriver!

Monthly ‘Help a Thriver Out’ Critiques – where you can nominate to have your shop chosen for a critique by the community, hosted in the facebook group.



If you’re interested in joining the Circle, you can find out more information here on the Thriver Circle website.

Make sure you’re subscribed to the C&T email updates in order to be notified when Foundation Membership opens. Registration is only open for 48 hours from 9am on Monday the 26th of January (that’s AEST), so make sure not to hesitate when that email hits your inbox!

If you have any questions about the Circle, feel free to shoot me an email, or just leave a comment below.

If you’re committed to making your handmade business a success, I hope you choose to invest in yourself and your business, and join us!

Jess x


%d bloggers like this: