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Success Stories – Core.

I’ve known Damara for some time and I always admire her incredible artworks and range of jewellery which is unique and thoughtful. Core. is a blend of artisan work and crafting through design and construction of beautiful wearables and wall hangings. Read on to see how a little craft market stall turned into a burgeoning creative business.

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

Art has been a major part of my life since I was little.

After floundering at university briefly studying anthropology, I decided to follow my true passion, and became a Graphic Designer.

I worked in graphics and (at the time) the newly developing world of digital photography until my first child came along.

After focusing on family for a number of years I found my passion to create was itching just below the surface, so I started my own business. After learning on the run and a few changes here and there I settled into Core.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

The biggest was definitely a small legal battle last year.

Someone was trying to copyright my business name even though my business was established and they already knew of me.

I had been naïve when starting the business not copyrighting the name, only registering it. I had no idea of how my venture would go and had little money to put towards such measures.

It ended up costing me A LOT more in the end, but thankfully with the help of a great IP lawyer my name is safely trademarked now.

It was a taxing time both emotionally as well as financially.

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

Yes, all the time (for both questions).

I think a lot of artists can relate to the fear involved in running your creativity as a ‘business’.

As an artist I just want to create what I love, but as a business it needs to be viable as a ‘product’.

I am constantly wondering if what I’m doing is what I should be doing.

Will it work?

Will people like it?

Even more so, will people part with their hard earned money to buy it?

And there are always a thousand more ideas in my head I do not either have time to get to or get pushed aside to make way for other things. I also have a problem with the word ‘success’.

I honestly don’t feel like a ‘success’.

It’s all a process rather than a definitive end and I am still within it, trying to keep moving forward and be happy.

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

I just have to work through it.

I find that by going through other processes, getting things done, that it comes back.

Even if I have to spend days just gluing or sanding or doing paper work, eventually I will be struck by a moment of inspiration.

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

My family comes first. That will always be the case. And that sometimes makes things very hard, but I am fortunate that this business is a ‘choice’ for me.

Yes it is a necessity for me as an artist to be creative, but I get to do that with my 3 children as well. As my youngest is getting older it is becoming easier to fit more focus time into Core.

Each day begins with getting everybody up and off to school, then my business time begins after that.

After school hours is quite tricky, and Core. just has to fit in around soccer and hockey and cello and holidays etc.

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

In one word – Instagram.

By far the best and easiest marketing tool, and I love it.

Everything goes on IG, all my processes and finished products, plus it is a visual tool, which as a creative person really appeals to me aesthetically.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Don’t worry about anyone else. Just do what makes you happy.

You can’t compare apples and oranges, just like you can’t compare your life to what you perceive is how someone else’s life is. Stick with your reality, and produce what you love.

That authenticity will shine through your work and people will believe in it… and in you.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Still on this creative journey.

I hope that my little business moves forwards and upwards.




[16] How to change your life by changing your morning routine

How can changing your morning routine change your life?

Do you start your morning feeling relaxed and under control or do you start it feeling tired and frustrated?

By crafting a morning routine that enables you to take care of YOU before you take care of everyone else, you can overhaul your entire experience of life and business.

In this episode, I share my own 3 hour morning routine, which includes things like yoga, reading, and spending quality non-work time with Nick, my husband, before we start the day’s work. I explain why I do the things I do each morning – and give you some suggestions for things you might like to consider incorporating into your own morning routine.

This is my routine – yours will look different. It all comes down to what you know you need to incorporate to help you start the day relaxed, and from a place of power and calm instead of stress. And the key element of this is the word ‘routine’ – I talk about the power of crafting positive habits, and how to grow your routine incrementally over time.

Overhauling my morning routine changed my life – I now start my days from a place of power – knowing I’ve done all my vital self-care activities, and can launch into my workday from a place of energised calm. Of course – some days it all falls apart, and that’s okay! It’s what you do most of the time that matters – and the longer you work at crafting your routine, the more powerful it will become.


Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • Make time for the most important things in your life for your own personal happiness and health
  • Doing things which are for relaxation and for exercise will always make you feel better
  • “I read a book, blog or at least something which will get me energised and inspired for the day.”
  • Look for reading in the morning which will get your business brain churning and ready for you work day
  • Making space for your morning and all the rituals you would like to complete before your day starts is really important
  • “If I get on the exercise bike, I’ll listen to a Podcast.”
  • There are heaps of great apps and websites you can find which give you exercise ideas and which can do within the time you have available for your morning.
  • APP: 7 Minute Workout
  • Leave yourself as much time as you can for your morning routine.
  • “The key is to have a flow and a set of triggers which will help craft your morning routine.”
  • BOOK: The Sweet Spot by Christine Carter
  • Changing one thing in your morning routine is actually about changing a whole bunch of habits.
  • All your habits are triggered by something which precedes them.
  • Understand the reward for changing your habit – why do you want to change your habits?
  • You will find that overhauling your morning routine will bring about ‘Energised Calm’.
  • If you feel that you’re putting your needs above other people, you are! But that’s OK as you need to look after yourself before you can look after other people.
  • “You’re like a well. If water is being taken out of the well but there’s never any rain, that’s when everything falls apart and you feel stressed and depleted.”
  • Morning routines start the night before.
  • Set a bedtime alarm so you get to bed with enough time to get ready and get enough sleep to get in gear for your morning routine.
  • “I find and set out my exercise clothes for the next morning so it’s easy in the morning and I don’t have to spend Will Power. I set myself up for success the next morning.”
  • Getting more sleep is the number one way to boost your mental ability and mood.
  • Make a plan – brainstorm everything you want in your morning routine and do a timeline.
  • “Intellectually I want to get straight out of bed and go for a walk but it just doesn’t work for me. I need that time to sit and drink a cup of coffee and a glass of water and read a book before I’m ready.”
  • Have a shower and get dressed even if you are working from home that day.
  • “If you’re relying on an external reward, it’s not going to work as well. It’s got to be linked in the moment. There needs to be an intrinsic reward otherwise you will deplete your willpower.”
  • BOOK: Habit by William James
  • BOOK: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • WEBSITE: Zen Habits by Leo Babauta

Share your thoughts by writing a blog post or on social media by using #CTPodcast.

Download/Listen to this Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create and Thrive’.)

The Thriver Circle membership is open right now!

Thriver Circle Membership Open Now! (For 48 Hours Only)





Hey Thriver,

It’s time to get the support and guidance you’ve been waiting for…

I’ve opened the doors of the Thriver Circle to new members for 48 hours only. 

I’m so excited to invite new members into our Circle! The last 6 months have been amazing – we’ve had members making huge leaps forward in their businesses – they’ve been crafting new websites; getting media features; increasing sales; gaining the confidence to increase prices; and so much more.

Our members are jewellers, ceramicists, knitters, artists, designers, paper-cutters – they span dozens of different media. There are Circle members from Australia, NZ, America, Canada, the UK, Europe, Singapore… we are a global community of passionate creatives who are focussed on making our passions into a thriving business – and we believe in supporting each other to reach our goals.


What do you get as a member of the Circle?

  • A private, positive community forum – with over 160 fellow creatives who are already there to help you and keep you accountable (and you get direct access to me, too). It’s a safe, supportive space to share your concerns, questions, and successes!
  • One exclusive workshop from me every month, covering topics like pricing, selling online, marketing, social media, photography, time management, finding your ideal customer… 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 + there is a Q&A session at the end.
  • Early notification + a member’s discount whenever I launch a course or program. 

These are just some of the benefits you get from being part of the Circle… you can find out all the details of these benefits and  more here.


SIGN UP!! Even though I haven’t set up a shop yet, the sharing of information from the community is amazing! I am so happy that I joined the Thriver Circle! You won’t see another bunch of talented handmade artists who are so supportive, encouraging and helpful!!

~ Adeline Tien


If you want to join us in the Circle, don’t hesitate.

Membership is only open 4 times a year, for 48 hours at a time. The next intake isn’t until the end of October, and this membership intake will close on Thursday the 30th of July, 8pm Australian EST (convert to your timezone).

Membership is only $15 AUD per month, paid via paypal subscription. You can cancel any time – no lock-in contracts, no big up-front cost.

If you’re not already convinced that the Circle is for you… why not try it out for a month for the price of a good magazine and a cup of coffee and find out for sure?

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’m only holding the doors open for 48 hours, and your next chance to join is 3 months away…


It’s great to be able to duck in and out of this group for insight, inspiration, advice and just to feel like I’m not alone in all of this when some days just feel like I’m in struggletown: population zero! It’s easier knowing we’re all dealing with variations of the same things, and can offer support, guidance and hope. It is SO beneficial on this journey.

~ Suzanne Cleary


Join Now


[15] How to advertise your business on a shoestring budget

There are so many great free options for advertising and marketing your business these days that talking about paying for advertising is unusual for me. But the truth is, if you’re not paying for something with money, you’re paying for it with time.

We recorded this month’s conversation about how to find affordable advertising which is targeted towards your ideal customer.

Making sure you know who your perfect customer is will be the very first step you need to take in the process so if you haven’t done this yet, now is the time!

A marketing plan is key and you can find a great link to Kath’s post about an annual Marketing Calendar here and here.

Once you have these things in place, it’s all about research and making sure you know all about the publication or website where you’re spending your money.

Listen in for all the inside information about how to advertise your business on a shoestring budget.

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • There are so many free options for advertising these days – you should try a lot of those before turning to paid advertising.
  • Decide on a marketing plan. Don’t just start paying for advertisements willy nilly.
  • “If you haven’t sat down and figured out your ideal customer yet, do that first and foremost.” {Kath}
  • What are you advertising? (the brand, a product, a special deal, a seasonal product).
  • Do an annual plan with dates you need to pay for adverts (and the reasons why).
  • Research – If you can’t afford to buy the magazines/print publications you want to check out, go to your local library or ask friends if they have copies.
  • Read up about the online blogs or websites which are offering paid advertising spots.
    • Ask for their Media Kit
    • How many readers do they have?
    • What are their demographics – are these your target customers?
    • Do they have a ‘product’ or ‘indie brand’ section which you could slot into?
    • What are other people saying about the publication?
  • Figure out a budget and stick to it – no matter what the advertiser wants from you.
  • Start small and ask for a discount.
  • I have found that almost all larger businesses I’ve worked with are happy to give you a discount to trial your advert.
  • Smaller businesses are just like you and may not be able to give you much of a discount – but they might have a smaller and more concentrated group of people who could be your perfect target market so it’s worth paying the money.
  • “Facebook Adverts – I’m still figuring these out but I find that I get about a 50/50 strike rate.” {Kath}
  • Think outside the box. There are loads of places where you could spend a bit of money for a potential sales gain.
  • Give away some freebies to encourage people to purchase from your store.
  • Print postcards or fliers and deliver them to mailboxes in your local area or to businesses which might have a lot of traffic.
  • Sponsor your local fete or school event – they will usually do a lot of advertising for you in advance.
  • Promoted Listings on Etsy have been successful in the past.
  • “It’s better to target your adverts in one place than scatter gun them all over the place. Try one place and stick with it for a few times to see if it works – then move on if it doesn’t.” {Kath}
  • Build brand awareness with this new audience before giving up.


Download/Listen to this Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create and Thrive’.)

Quick Fixes for 6 Common Blog Mistakes






You want to look like you know what you’re doing, but is your blog plotting to make you look like a fool?

I see these same content and technical mistakes on blogs over and over, and most are easy to fix. If these common blog mistakes have been driving you crazy on your own site, I’ve got some tips for you today.

My fixes use WordPress menu names, but most blogging programs will have similar functionality, though perhaps tucked behind a different menu.


The mistake: Images that click to the same size image

This is a common problem with a simple fix. As a reader, I see a photo in a post, and notice that when I hover over it, it’s a link. Expecting to either get a lightbox-style pop-up over the screen with a larger photo, or at least be taken to the larger photo directly, I click, and I get… the exact same photo at the exact same size, but on a blank page. Now I need to click my “back” button to get back to what I was reading.

The fix:

When you’re adding the image to your post, make sure the “link to” choice is set to “none” in WordPress. WordPress will remember what you did last time, so it’s always good to check the setting for each new image, rather than assuming it’s set how you want it.

If you do want to link to a larger image, make sure you upload the large image itself, choose to have it resized in the post, and set the “link to” field to “media file” or “attachment page.”


The mistake: Images that are the wrong size

It irks me when I’m reading a blog and the photos don’t take advantage of all the width of the column they’re in, or  when photos are all different sizes throughout the blog.

The fix:

Always upload images that are as large or larger than the space you have. Sometimes this isn’t enough, though, as your WordPress admin might be set up to size and display photos smaller than they are.

If big photos turn small when you add them to the blog, you need to adjust some settings. Find out how many pixels wide your photos need to be to fill the space available. There are a lot of different ways to do this, none of which are quick to explain, I’m afraid. Ask your friendly web designer friend (me)!

Now that you know how wide you want your photos to be, make sure WordPress is set up to help you with that. Go to Settings in your WordPress admin and choose Media. You can set three standard sizes, and then you’ll be able to choose from between them whenever you upload a new image. Your small size could be used for thumbnail graphics that lead to posts, your medium could be the photos in the posts, and large could be the size people see when they click to view it larger.


The mistake: Photos that have been distorted

It’s weird to come across a photo that’s obviously been stretched or squished, like a piece of chewing gum.

The fix:

You are probably changing the height or width of your image without changing the other side. For instance, if your image is 400 pixels wide and 400 pixels tall, when you change the width to 300 pixels, you need the height to change by the same amount.

The fix for this depends on where you’re having the problem. If the problem happens when you edit the photo, be sure that when you change the width of an image, the height is also changing proportionately. This would be in Photoshop or whatever other photo editing software you use.

If your photos look fine on your computer, but then look crazy on your blog, check your media or file upload settings to make sure that they aren’t automatically being resized on one dimension only.


The mistake: moderating comments unnecessarily

If you want your comments section to be lively, it’s always best to have a discussion going as quickly as possible. Holding comments to be approved manually by you slows things down, and in the time it takes you to click and approve a comment, people may have missed out on the opportunity to discuss.

The fix:

Allow comments to flow freely on your site, unless you begin having a problem that requires you look at each comment individually. This is under Settings > Discussion in WordPress.


The mistake: being overwhelmed with spam

As soon as your site is ranked in Google and starts getting traffic and interest, spam robots will flood it with tons of garbage comments. Letting these pile up on your site is bad for business, and spending all of your time manually deleting them is a waste of your time.

The fix:

Pay Akismet $5/month to wipe this stuff out before it even makes it to your blog. If you spend more than 5-10 minutes per month tackling spam comments, I’d say this is money well spent.


The mistake: A bunch of garbage in your sidebar

WordPress gives you so many handy dandy widgets that it’s super tempting to fill your sidebar up with lots of neat looking goodies. However, clogging your sidebar with clutter will just cause visitors to ignore everything they see to the side of the real content, and you will have lost the opportunity to make your blog an easy place to explore, or to promote what you most want people to know about.

The fix:

Edit your sidebar ferociously. Look at each thing you’ve added, and ask if it’s something your reader needs, or if it helps you with your business goals. Remember that the more distractions you give your reader, the less you’ll be able to guide them through your site to your ultimate goal (purchasing your products, signing up for your service, etc.).

I share many more tips like this in my Aeolidia newsletter.

What mistakes do you see on blogs that drive you batty?

What questions do you have about your own blog?

P.S. If you missed my post with 260 blog post ideas, that’s a good place to get started on improving your blog!