[50] 5 Steps to a Better Brand with Julie Gibbons

Ep 50 - Create & Thrive Podcast


Welcome to the 50th episode of the Create & Thrive Podcast!


This week I’m chatting with my friend – and our teacher for the new C&T course Brand Your Craft – Julie Gibbons from Tractor Girl.

Julie opened her Etsy shop in 2009 without putting any thought into her branding, and as a result her shop was not as successful as she hoped.

Julie went on to start her blog in 2011, and by interviewing other artists she quickly realised she wasn’t the only one who didn’t have good branding – and that a lot of people’s businesses were suffering from not having a strong, clear brand. Julie has gone on to specialise in visual branding – helping makers to craft strong brands for themselves.

In this episode she gives you 5 steps you can implement to make strides towards creating a stronger, better brand for your handmade business.


Ep 50 quote - Julie Gibbons

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Graphic Design is important.
  • Alignment – don’t make things messy or in different sizes as it can be distracting.
  • You want to present something neat and easy to look at.
  • Think about contrast especially for important links.
  • Negative space is your friend – don’t feel you have to fill every space with content.
  • 2. You don’t need a logo.
  • Your logo is not your brand – your brand is about conveying a mood.
  • You don’t even need to think about a logo until you have your branding sorted.
  • ‘A logo is not the basis of your brand.’ {Julie}
  • 3. Set parameters. 
  • You need to set yourself a game plan and some parameters.
  • ‘If you have too much choice it can stop you from doing anything because you just don’t know which direction to go.’ {Jess}
  • Who are you and what do you want to project?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What is your product?
  • Once you have these fundamentals you can find the mood you want to encompass in your brand.
  • 4. Give yourself time.
  • Your brand will evolve over time and develop naturally.
  • ‘Don’t be afraid to take people on the journey and tell them the story of why.’ {Jess}
  • 5. Learn your brand back to front.
  • In order to be able to explain your brand to people you need to know it inside and out.
  • Get your peers to look at your visual branding and provide constructive feedback.
  • ‘Everyone has the ability to learn good design basics.’ {Julie}
  • FURTHER LEARNING: Julie and I are running an eCourse on this very subject! Visit Brand Your Craft for more information.
  • You can find Julie at her website, Facebook or Instagram.


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

[49] 5 Steps to Prepare for Licensing your 2D Artwork – with Laura C George

Ep 49 - Create & Thrive Podcast

This week I’m in conversation with Laura C George, who is a business consultant for artists.

After studying a degree in art, Laura decided to focus on the marketing side of the art world, and now she helps 2D artists to be able to make a full time living from their art.

So – this episode will be most helpful to you if you are a 2D artist (painter, illustrator, photographer, etc.), because we are discussing the topic of licensing your artwork to manufactures. This might not be something you’ve ever thought of doing before, but it can be a great way to get your work out into the world.

In this episode she gives you 5 tips you need to take in order to prepare for licensing.

Even if you aren’t a 2D artist, there’s some good stuff in this episode about brand positioning, how to think about the legacy of your work, and more.



Ep 49 quote - Laura C George

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Have your copyrights in place.
  • No one will use your work unless this step has been completed.
  • You can pay copyright for a collection rather than each piece which can save you money.
  • 2. Have a collection ready rather than a one-off.
  • A collection is preferred by those who will pay licensing.
  • Buyers want to see a larger selection of work even though they will rarely choose all of it.
  • It is important to include a ‘story’ about your collection.
  • 3. Think about the types of stores you want your art to be in.
  • It is really important to know so you can ask this of your manufacturers.
  • 4. Think about the types of products you want your art to be on.
  • If you are a gallery artist you don’t want your art to be on products that could make your art look cheap.
  • ‘If it’s on everything it presents a very different perception of who you are and what your art is and how it’s valued.’ {Laura}
  • Remember that licensing can affect your originals – for better or worse.
  • ‘You have to do what’s right for you and what you feel comfortable with.’ {Jess}
  • 5. Get some education on the process and the lingo.
  • The language used for licensing can be a bit tricky, so do your research to learn the jargon.
  • Learn the processes and best practices in order to protect yourself.
  • You need to be confident so you can come across as professional to potential buyers.
  • Don’t let fear hold you back.
  • ‘Keep reminding yourself to be resilient.’ {Laura}
  • FURTHER LEARNING: Laura wrote this post about licensing and the next steps you can take – ‘How to Get Started in Licensing’
  • VIDEO: How to Find and Approach Manufacturers for Licensing.
  • You can find Laura at her website, Facebook or Instagram.


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

[48] Why a Mailing List is Non-Negotiable

Ep 48 - Create & Thrive Podcast

Having a mailing list for your handmade business is non-negotiable.

All other marketing avenues are great, absolutely. Social media is awesome. PR is brilliant. But nothing beats having the intimate connection with your customers and potential customers that email offers.

Building your marketing solely on the back of social media can backfire. You may have seen the announcement this week that Instagram is going the way of Facebook with their feed – changing it so they start ranking posts and showing you what they think you want to see, rather than a simple time-ordered feed. This is no surprise, as they are owned by Facebook – but a lot of people are freaking out about this change, and worrying how it will impact their business. (I don’t mention this in the episode, because I recorded it before the announcement broke.)

You don’t own Instagram, or Facebook, or any other social platform. You DO own the emails on your mailing list (so long as people stay subscribed, of course). No-one can take that audience away from you except the audience themselves.

Email marketing gives us the opportunity to connect directly with the people who care about what you do and want to learn more, stay updated, and take advantage of special offers.

These people have deliberately chosen to gift you with their email address – out of all the squillions of mailing lists in the world, they’ve chosen you. That’s pretty darn special. And worth working for, because having their email gives you direct access to them where they are most likely to see your message – in their inbox.

In this episode, I outline more reasons why a mailing list is non-negotiable, as well as some ideas for how to get started, and get people subscribing.

Ep 48 quote - Jess


Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • Email marketing is important as it is something you can rely on for people to engage with.
  • Even if a recipient doesn’t open your email they have still seen you and your name.
  • Emails help you to be in the minds of your customers and to be present.
  • By being present in someone’s inbox you are making a connection with them.
  • If a person subscribes to your mailing list then it means they care about what you do and they are putting their trust in you.
  • Remember that you are not bothering people. If they unsubscribe it is ok. It means they are not your ideal customer.
  • Send emails at least once a month to touch base with your subscribers.
  • Keep your emails simple, to the point, and just use one topic each email.
  • Don’t overcomplicate it and don’t over-think it.
  • ‘The key is reminding them you exist’. {Jess}
  • Never ever add emails to your list without the persons express permission.
  • Add links to your newsletter sign up page to everything that you can.
  • It is important to find good, user friendly software that works for you.
  • Take a sign up sheet to markets to boost your mailing list.
  • ‘Treat them like the gold that they are’. {Jess}
  • A mailing list is a crucial part of marketing your creative business.
  • GUIDE: Learn more with our C&T Guide: How to Run a Rockin’ Mailing List
  • Want more help? There is a whole workshop on getting started with mailing lists inside the Thriver Circle – with a follow-up workshop to come this year. Membership opens again in early May – so make sure you’re on the C&T mailing list so you’ll be notified when access is available again!


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

[47] How a Photo Can Make You Famous with Cath of My Bearded Pigeon

Ep 47 - Create & Thrive Podcast

My friend Cath Young started her second handmade business – My Bearded Pigeon – in late 2009, and has sold almost 6,000 of her designs on Etsy alone in this time.

She has been an Etsy featured seller and is also on the Etsy Seller Advisory Board this year.

I invited her on the show because I’ve known her online since before she started MBP – and I’ve been watching her business grow since the beginning.

She’s a fabulous example of someone who ‘learnt the ropes’ via her first biz, and then knocked it out of the park with her second one – applying all the lessons she learnt first time around to launch a new – and fresh – idea to the world that took hold quickly – with the help of some fortuitous PR driven by a now famous photo!

Cath is also a mum to 2 kids, still works part-time as a social worker outside of her biz (because she loves her work), and is as down-to-earth as you can get – not to mention hilarious – we laugh a lot in this one!


Ep 46 quote - Cath


Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • Cath started her journey with her blog back in 2007 and loved the community feel that came with it.
  • When Cath’s daughter was born she started sewing as she had trouble finding really good quality clothing for girls.
  • This evolved over time to homewares and came up with her idea for map cushions.
  • Cath decided that the new line of homewares needed a new name so she started a new brand: My Bearded Pigeon.
  • Check out the awesome photo of Cath’s daughter laying on the World Map Floor Cushion
  • The above photo was one of hundreds and Cath knew it was the one to use to market her homewares.
  • ‘Have a point of difference, even though it can be hard to find.’ {Cath}
  • Within weeks of this photo being published it was featured on Apartment Therapy, which was a huge boost to her new business.
  • Cath had an onslaught of orders following this and had hundreds of orders to fill, as well as custom orders for other maps.
  • In 2011 the head stylist at Real Living Magazine contacted Cath and has been featured multiple times, including on the cover.
  • Cath has been approached regarding her price point but she held firm and made sure she let people know the benefits of buying quality handmade and ethical products.
  • ‘Don’t be a commodity. You need to be a brand and stand out in some way and that’s why people buy from you.’ {Jess}
  • Cath still works outside of her business and enjoys the contrast of doing both.
  • My Bearded Pigeon is a great example of a business that is succeeding because of great PR.
  • ‘You need to grab opportunities as they come up.’ {Cath}
  • No day is the same for Cath but that is the way she likes it. She likes not being on the same schedule day in and day out.
  • With magazines they will want you to work quickly so Cath learnt to jump on these as they came along.
  • Cath’s Favourite Quote: ‘Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.’ {Ira Glass}
  • ‘If you know what’s good you will keep pushing yourself until you reach the point that you are making something that’s good.’ {Jess}
  • FURTHER READING: Cath wrote this post for us a few years back – ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of Selling Successfully on Etsy
  • You can find Cath and My Bearded Pigeon at her website, Etsy store or Instagram.


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

[46] The Power of Being True to You in Business – with Jill from For Strange Women

Ep 46 - Create & Thrive Podcast


Jill from For Strange Women works with natural ingredients to make perfumes. Which she sells – with wild success – on the internet.

Jill started on Etsy in 2009, and today, she not only sells online, she also has her own store in downtown Kansas City. With over 28,000 sales in her Etsy shop alone, Jill’s business is incredibly successful – and all based on selling something – scent – that people can’t even smell until they’ve bought the product. Jill formulates all her perfumes, and even today, it’s just her and one assistant running the whole business.

So – how has she grown such a successful business? I believe it’s been via the power of her branding and storytelling – and the fact that she’s remained true to herself, even when she was surrounded with doubters.

In this episode, we discuss the importance of being true to you in your business, and the way Jill’s business has naturally grown to where it is today.

If you would like to hear a beautiful and peaceful approach to running a handmade business, don’t miss this one.

Ep 46 quote - Jess


Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • Jill runs a successful online store selling her scents and also offering custom perfume.
  • Jill makes her products descriptions mean something concrete – that relates to memory and place – which is important for selling scents online.
  • The product photography style Jill uses has developed naturally through her experiences.
  • Jill was working full time but felt she wanted a change so she took a leap of faith towards For Strange Women
  • ‘It was a game, it took off, and it was good!.’ {Jill}
  • Jill has been resisting pressures to expand her business which can be a challenge.
  • ‘Success can be it’s own challenge.’ {Jess}
  • Writing down the hundreds of ideas helps Jill to decide which ones to work on and which ones to put aside.
  • ‘If you don’t take your idea and go with it then that idea is going to find another person.’ {Jill}
  • Some of the perfume names have been trademarked to protect her ideas.
  • Jill and her assistant work in the studio three days a week but her business it flows into her everyday.
  • There is a shop-front at Jill’s studio which means some of her customers have the opportunity to interact with her products.
  • Expressing herself creatively and personally through social media is one of her favourite marketing avenues.
  • Jill uses shopify and Etsy to sell her products. Many of her customers originally found her through Etsy and it continues to be her biggest sales platform.
  • ‘Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and don’t look around and try to be anything else.’ {Jill}
  • You can’t expect support from the beginning, and you can’t try and be like anyone else.
  • ‘If you can grab onto that uniqueness that is you and you business, it’s like magic. You will know it when you find it.’ {Jess}
  • Jill is going to try and let go of some aspects and trust other people in their abilities to take her brand and run with it.
  • Knowing when to ask for help is important.
  • ‘The beginning of freedom is he realisation that you are not the possessing entity, the thinker’ {Eckhart Tolle}
  • You can find Jill and For Strange Women at her website, on Etsy, or Instagram.


Download/Listen to this Episode


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

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