Small Success Stories ~ August Edition

Every other week we share the success stories of full-time makers but Jess and I wanted to make sure we were also celebrating your successes!  So every month we’re hoping to feature a few Create & Thrive readers who have had a recent success story of their own.  We had some wonderful feedback last month with our first installment of Small Success Stories so we’re doing it again.  Read on to see what your fellow Create & Thrive readers have achieved lately.

Jennifer’s Small Success:

Pozible cover image

This week I reached my funding target on Pozible meaning I now have the funds to publish my first illustrated book! In my small business/world this is a huge thing but I guess it’s small in the grand scheme of things.

You can see Jennifer’s project funded by Pozible HERE and more of her work online at

Viktorija’s Small Success:

This is my first week of a freelance adventure, so excited! Bye-bye day job hello the creative unknown!
I am very excited about this change and made lots of new goodies to celebrate. Necklaces, earrings and totes.

Viktojia, the owner of AndSmile, also got featured on Crafty magazine’s blog about her big step into self-employment.  You will love the interview!

Grace’s Small Success:


I was approached by a local lady who is organizing a workshop called “Suicide risk in Depression and Anxiety” and I was thrilled to tell her that Papier Mouse Designs is more than happy to create all design items for her for no charge. Now she has sent some more business my way. Karma is good.

Lora’s Small Success:


I am thrilled to say I got invited to showcase in a MAD Gallery for our big Downtown Gallery Crawl. I’ll be showcasing a beautiful 5 ft wide copper and coin angel I created from salvaged copper gutter and pennies.  My work has gone from small jewelry pieces to large metal art. I am thrilled to be able to create and share my work! I never dreamed it would grow this big! And now I know there is no end to what you can achieve with LOTS of determination, imagination and supportive people!

You see more of Lora’s work at her Etsy shop: Centsations.

Lila’s Small Success:


Lila, the maker behind Lingering Daydreams, took a big step last month and hired a product photographer to shoot her products.  Personally, I think her Etsy shop looks amazing now!  Take a peek yourself HERE.

Fiona’s Small Success:

I am Fiona from Hung Up On Agnes and I received my first custom order today! It’s been so lovely chatting with this friendly customer and I am thrilled to have received a custom order from her. As I was excitedly whipping up a gift for her to go with her purchase, I have stumbled upon a new product line that I have starting working on and hope to have in store soon. Double yay day!

Imogen’s Small Success:


My small success was realising if there is no clear divide between my ‘work’ time and my ‘own’ time and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing! When I quit my job a couple of months ago to focus on my handmade business I thought one of the most important parts would be the balance between turning off the computer/ putting down the craft supplies and having a social life/ seeing my husband/ relaxing.. that at a certain time of day, every day. I should stop. After reading a post from Paid to Exist last week where they mention the faster you realise there is no divide the faster you will succeed, the happier I’ve been. I make the things I make because I enjoy it, I enjoy “working” in my spare time, and I know when I need a break, a predesignated divide (at this point in the business anyway) isn’t necessary! Yes of course I would like to succeed, but I still enjoy it enough to want to do it as a job and as a hobby because it is fun.

You can find more of Imogen’s work at Imogen Wilson Jewelry.

Linda’s Small Success:


I create jewelry and specialize in Jewish jewelry and Jewish women’s headcoverings (kippot).  Recently, I had a feature in an online publication: WE Magazine for Women. It’s exciting!

You can find more of Linda’s work online at: Linda B’s Jewelry.


***Want to be featured in our next Small Success Stories feature?  Email me at and tell me what we get to celebrate!  I promise to eat a piece of chocolate cake for every success you have.  (I don’t think my boyfriend will object to always having cake in the fridge.)***

The Success List: Success Looks a Lot Different to You Than it Does to Me, Right?

Success List - CreateandThrive (2)

What vision pops into your head when I say the word ‘success’?

Do you think I’m talking about success in your business – or success in your life?

And really – are they even two separate things?

Because to me, they’re pretty much one and the same.

I can’t define the success of my business separately from the success I feel in my self.

The success of my business is wrapped up tightly with not only my sense of achievement and self-worth as a person, but also with the sense of freedom and joy I feel when I think about the life and lifestyle I have chosen for myself.

I say chosen, because it is a choice. It’s not luck (though there is some of that in the mix). It’s not a blessing (because I worked my ASS off to get where I am, there was no divine agency involved).

I chose to walk the path less travelled.

I choose to live the life less lived.

I choose to live a lifestyle that can be supported by my choice of work.

If I wanted a big house in the suburbs, 3 kids, 2 cars, and the latest everything, it would be almost impossible with the money I currently earn.

So, instead, I choose to live in a converted shed with no bathroom or kitchen (they’re down in the main house) until we can build our own house. I choose not to have children so I have the freedom to travel and devote my life to my work – because that’s my joy. I choose to work longer hours than I ever did in a ‘real’ job so that I can make the money we need to live the life we do.

None of this – NONE of it – is a sacrifice. It is a choice, a choice I make joyfully, each and every day.

That being said, it’s also not something I’ve done alone. Without the love and support of my family, friends, customers, online colleagues, and,  most of all – my partner-in-life-and-crime/husband/rock/one-man-cheer-squad/food-maker/big-bunch-of-balloons-like-in-that-movie-UP – Nick, it would have been infinitely harder.

However I got here, and whatever here is… I feel like I have achieved a modicum of ‘success’ in my life. There are certainly many more mountains to climb, lions to tame, and rivers to cross… but for now, life it pretty damn great.

So – what is success?

I can’t tell you what success looks like to you, because honestly, it’s going to be hella different… but I can tell you what it means to me, and you might see some echos of your own version of success in there.

How to define success? I don’t think I CAN define it in a single sentence or pithy statement. What I can do, however, is give you (and me) snapshots of what success looks and feels like in my life, and from those snapshots, a broader and more beautifully vast vision can emerge.

And so, I give you my Success List.

Success is…

  • writing this blog post while sitting in a hotel room in Seattle, half-way through a 2-month trip around Canada and the USA that we were able to just decide to take – on a whim – because of the flexibility of our lives and the money in the bank – and because I wanted to attend the World Domination Summit (#WDS2013)
  • being able to get up and go to sleep every day at whatever time I want
  • structuring my day to suit me, rather than someone else’s schedule
  • doing the work I want, when I want
  • living in the country because I don’t have to commute
  • making enough money so my husband doesn’t have to have a job – he can stay home and work with me, and support me and our life by doing the bulk of the domestic chores, too
  • being free to chuck in work for a day and go to the beach (though, lets be honest, my inner workaholic doesn’t let me do this TOO often!)
  • making/having enough money to buy whatever I want whenever I want… thankfully, I prefer op shop clothes over designer duds, and my idea of fancy is a bottle of $20 wine and a block of good Lindt chocolate
  • being able to stop work at any given moment, walk into my bedroom, and cuddle my cat/husband/read a book for a while/go for a walk/lay outside in the paddock looking at the sky
  • (interlude – have you noticed that so far, I’ve pretty much been talking about my life, rather than my actual business? There’s a lesson there…)
  • being able to make beautiful things with my own two hands, and people loving them enough to buy them, so I know that my little droplets of beauty are spreading around the world
  • the joy of standing in front of a group of people who have a dream, and hopefully sharing something with them that will spark an idea or give them inspiration to make that dream a reality
  • having someone email me to tell me that something I put out there into the world changed their life. (This is a BIG one.)
  • getting to speak at this year’s Problogger Training Event (alongside people like Jonathan Fields, Darren Rowse, Clare Bowditch, Trey Ratcliff, Pip Lincolne, Amy Porterfield and Tsh Oxenreider)
  • being truly loved
  • laughing with my family every day
  • enacting my new ideas with passion
  • having the time to read a couple of novels every week on my kindle
  • making enough money to travel multiple times every year
  • being happy every day

That, right now, is what success means to me.

But hey… why stop there? Why not have a FUTURE Success List, too?

In the future, Success will be:

  • giving a TED talk
  • making my husband feel loved and valued every day
  • teaching people that they CAN live life differently and make a living following their passion
  • buying a beach house
  • taking care of my parents in their old age and making sure they never feel alone
  • taking care of my own health so that I can live to whatever age I live to in full health and vitality – able to do what I want to do until the day I die, because I never want to ‘retire’
  • finishing and publishing a book
  • speaking regularly all over the world
  • getting my jewellery in gallery shops
  • having a ‘proper’ art show with some unique, conceptual jewellery pieces
  • starting my own charity/legacy (I have one in mind, and have for years)
  • making every day joyful and meaningful
  • t.b.a. …

It’s amazing how writing this list opens you up – not only to the possibilities, but also to the awesome things you already have in your life!

It really makes you grateful and thankful for every wonderful thing you already have… and hopeful for those experiences to come in the future!

I would love, love, love to hear what success means to you, too.

In fact – here’s a challenge for you.

I challenge you to write a post on YOUR blog outlining your Success List.

(Feel free to steal the above photo and use it!!) 

Come back here and leave the link below in the comments/tweet me/facebook it etc etc… however you share, I’d love to read it.


 P.S. You can share this post on twitter by clicking here to tweet: What does Success look like to you? @JessVanDen challenges you to share your #SuccessList with the world.

4 Reasons Why Teaching is a great Idea


As makers, we have a wealth of information and skills at our disposal.  We know how to make every shade of neutral grey with watercolors.  We can bend ear wires with our eyes closed.  Or we can knit the most intricate pattern for a sweater. 

Well, guess what?  More and more people want to learn those skills to!  Teaching a class, whether in-person or online, has a lot of benefits for makers.

New Revenue Stream

Let’s be honest: we all have slow months of the year where our stress levels soar and our bank levels dip.  Being able to teach a class in that down time allows you to negate that stress and add some cash flow to your income.  Many courses can be set up to run on their own via email autoresponders, which means there’s minimal effort for you.  This is a perfect example of working smarter vs. working harder.


You never know what amazing connections you will make by teaching.  Someone may become your customer after seeing how hard metalsmithing can be.  Or they may be a writer for a magazine who wants to feature you.  Or they may simply tell all of their girlfriends about you and help you rack up extra sales.

Gets You Out of Your Comfort Zone

Since we work from our studios so much, we can become isolated and introverted.  We fall into ruts that make us feel safe.  Teaching a class helps break up that pattern and gets your creative juices flowing.  When you work in-person with people, you also learn what they really want to learn and that allows you to get to know your customers better.  The knowledge you gain from a class will help you write an e-book, tweak a product, or design something new that fits their needs.

Become an ‘Expert’

You get to step into your ‘expert’ role.  So many of us belittle our skills.  We don’t think we have the right to call ourselves ‘experts’.  Well, guess what?  As the teacher, you are the undeniable expert.  You’ll not only become more confident in your skills but also in your products when you teach others a skill.  Confidence sells, ladies, so be assured that you know what you’re doing.

Most people worry that teaching others one of their skills means those people will become copycats who steal their secret formula for purl stitches or their signature style of painting.  If you set up your class the right way, there’s absolutely no reason to fear copycats.

Megan Auman, an amazing metalsmith and business coach, is running a new program called Do/Teach.  This 6-week program shows you how to create a signature class that sets you apart online and ensures your students won’t follow exactly in your footsteps.  By the end of Do/Teach, you’ll be ready to launch your first signature class!

Ask me your questions, I’ll tell you no lies…


{by Norman Rockwell}

Morning all!

I’m suffering from the dreaded lurgy today, so my brain is not exactly in prime ‘answering questions in an in-depth, no-nonsense, and thorough matter’ mode, (plus Nick is harassing me and telling me to go back to bed).


I thought I’d do a call-out for questions for our Friday Q&A posts. I’ve got a couple still lined up to answer, but more is better, because I know you’ve got them, and I want to answer them 🙂

If you’ve got a burning question you’re happy to ask publicly, please just leave it in the comments of this post. If you’ve got a more sensitive question that you’d like to ask me privately (I’m happy to keep you anonymous when I answer your question) just shoot it to me via email – jessica AT

Have an ace weekend, and I’ll see you next week!

I want to feature YOU on the C&T Facebook page! Here’s how to be part of it…


{image source}

It’s really important to me that Create & Thrive is about something larger than just me and what I can teach you… what I can share with you.

I want this place to be for, and about, YOU.

I want C&T to be a community of people with a common goal – to take the path less travelled and live a life that allows us to make a living doing work we love.

I want to help you and your business grow.

I want to put you centre stage.

I want to help you get your name out there!

So… I’ve come up with a bit of a fun way to do just that 🙂

I want to feature you + your work on the C&T Facebook Page Cover!

Here’s how we’re gonna do it.

  1. Choose a photo to share with us. It needs to feature your product, your workspace, and/or you. Any of the 3 is fine, though obviously if it’s a photo of you, it’s good if you’ve got your product in there too! (Please don’t submit any photos with kids in them unless they’re models in product shots and and you have EXPRESS PERMISSION to share their photo, or they’re your own kids. Ideally, I want photos of the maker – that’s YOU!)

  2. Edit it to the correct facebook cover size – 851px wide by 315px high. You can do this easily online using PicMonkey.

  3. Email the photo to me (jessica AT is the best email to use). In your email, include your name, the name of your business, a link to your website/shop, and a short blurb about what you do (no more than one paragraph). This info will go up with your photo.

  4. Keep an eye out on the C&T Facebook Page for your image to be featured! The timeframe of image rotations will depend on how many submissions I get.

Please make sure you pick an AWESOME photo. If you send me a photo that I don’t think is up to scratch, I’ll email you back and let you know.

Here’s an example of one of my photos that I’ve got up there at the moment.

Jess Working

Now, this is from a professional photo shoot, so I don’t expect yours to be quite as awesomely lit (I know I couldn’t get a photo that good on my own!) but it needs to be bright, beautiful, crisp, and have good contrast.

I plan on making this an ongoing thing if you guys are keen!

Also, please don’t hesitate to send in a few different images – I’ll either choose my favourite, or hold on to them and feature them spread out over time.

If you like this idea, please let me know in the comments below, and share it with your peeps – I’d love to feature as many people as possible!


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