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[104] Developing Your Signature Style with Caitlin from Ink & Spindle


In the first years of your business it can sometimes feel like you are yet to find your signature style. Sometimes, this is just something that needs to be developed over time – and you’ll know it when you find it.

One business that has done this beautifully is Ink & Spindle.

Caitlin Klooger is one half of the Ink & Spindle team who run their Aussie-inspired eco fabric screen-printing business from their studio in Melbourne. All of their fabric is hand-printed by them in their studio – and they sell their fabric by the metre, as well as selling homewares and custom window blinds.

In this episode I chat with Caitlin from Ink & Spindle about what inspires her, how the business works, and how it all began.



Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • Caitlin and her business partner Lara run a screen printing business in Melbourne.
  • She studied interior design and landscape architecture but started her own textile business from home when she met Lara.
  • They are inspired largely by plants and nature using this as a base of the design process.
  • Ink & Spindle have an eco feel and ethos using organic and ethically sourced materials.
  • There always comes struggles with running a creative business and juggling family is one of them.
  • ‘Business and life are so intertwined’ {Jess}
  • There is a focus on online sales and customer service as well as wholesale and interior design.
  • Instagram is the favourite marketing tool in the Ink & Spindle studio as it is image focused.
  • Ink & Spindle has developed and grown naturally as Caitlin and Lara’s skills and confidence developed and grew.
  • You can find Ink & Spindle on their website or facebook.


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[103] Finding the Space to Just Be


When was the last time you just stopped and did… nothing?

As our lives become increasingly busy and connected, it can be so easy to feel pressure to be working and doing all the time – you can easily forget to live in the now. To just be.

In this episode I help you discover ways to be more mindful of how you spend your time. And to allow yourself to not be pursuing something 100% of the time.

It can be super easy to get caught up in the future. The when, the ifs and the one days. The goals. The end point.

But remember… 99.9% of your time is spent in the process of working towards that goal… so if you’re not enjoying the process, what’s the point?

Today I want to invite you to step away from all of the ‘shoulds’ – all of the doing – and just find a little bit of space to practice just being, instead.



Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • It is important to have some sort of structure to your day or it can be easy to lose focus.
  • Having some structure means you can enjoy your down time more.
  • If you are ALWAYS thinking about work it can become too much pressure and stress.
  • You need to leave space for ‘unproductive time’.
  • Though some have argued that today’s age is one where ‘the great dream is to trade up from money to meaning,’ there’s an unshakeable and discomfiting sense that, in our obsession with optimising our creative routines and maximising our productivity, we’ve forgotten how to be truly present in the gladdening mystery of life.’ {Maria Popova}
  • There is so much work to be done in growing a creative business and so it is important to enjoy it.
  • ‘Modern technology has made it harder than ever to disconnect from the clamour and demands of others, and the demands we put on ourselves.’ {Jess}
  • You need to make sure you are living the days you want to live now and not for what could be in the future.
  • Working hard does not mean you can’t enjoy life and make space for the things you love.
  • You need time to just be.
  • You need to impart meaning and positivity into all that you do.
  • This week I want you to find 5 minutes every day just to be. It doesn’t matter what it is but make it a guilt free experience living in the present moment.


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[102] How to Choose the Right Ideas to Action with Kez Tutton


As a creative person your mind is probably buzzing with ideas day in and day out. It can sometimes feel like your head might explode, and these ideas can keep you awake, obsess you when you’re trying to do something else, and generally leave you feel frazzled and frustrated because you don’t know which ones to run with.

So… how do you work out which ideas to grab hold of and which ones to let go.

In this episode I chat with Kez from The Handmade Biz Planner about this very topic. Kez ran her own handmade business for 5 years, and she’s also spent many years in the corporate world, learning about business and systems.

Kez creates online resources that help add value to your creative business through forms and processes that can help you beat that feeling of overwhelm.

The idea behind her business is ‘careful, gentle planning’.

So, let’s learn a bit more about her, and about what she calls the ‘Ultimate Brainstorm Process’!


Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • Kez put together all her skill sets to create her business The Handmade Biz Planner.
  • Firstly there is the Creation phase.
  • Write everything down, every little (or big!) idea to help keep your mind clear.
  • Keep a notepad beside your bed to collect ideas as they pop up.
  • So, how do you decide which crazy ideas to follow? Enter the Prioritise phase.
  • Make sure you have a criteria to check the ideas off against.
  • Does the idea fit with your core values? Does the idea suit your ideal customer? Does it fit within your business goals?
  • Then comes the Planning phase.
  • You need to put these ideas into a plan.
  • Create a road map of what you want to do and where you want it to take you.
  • Then you need to work out the action steps.
  • Do it now, do it later or don’t do it at all.
  • Don’t become trapped by the processes, make it work for you.
  • ‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living with the result of other peoples thinking and don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become.’ {Steve Jobs}



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[101] In The Fire of Transformation with Claire Anderson



Businesses don’t grow via a nice smooth curve.

In fact, businesses often go through periods of massive upheaval in the process of evolving. My guest this week is in the midst of one such transformation.

Claire and her fiance Steven own a glass blowing company in Canada. They spent some time travelling and working in studios together around the country: and then decided it was time to settle down and start their own.

They chose Niagara Falls as a place to call home and started working hard to get the studio off the ground. Together they create functional and artistic wares through traditional glass blowing techniques, and they have dreams to not only grow their glass business, but also become a hub of the creative community in NF – helping other artists to grow and evolve, too.

In this Episode I chat with Claire about the transformation of her business and what the future holds for this dedicated and hardworking couple.




Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • Claire and Steven set up a crowd funding campaign to help fund the studio as there is so much equipment and permits involved.
  • A huge challenge for Claire and her partner was the process of setting up the studio (not an easy thing with their craft!) and the roller coaster of emotions that went with it.
  • Their glassware has been selling like crazy and they feel they have found their niche in a certain style ‘The Canadian Ice Glass’
  • They both have different strengths within the business and work with this.
  • There have been some huge life adjustments to manage the studio and still find time to do the things they enjoy.
  • Luckily, they both have the ability to care for each other through stressful times.
  • Claire admits they do have a plan and are ready to settle where they are even with the challenges they face in the creative industries in Canada.
  • ‘Finding the right product is the best thing you can do’ {Jess}
  • They have been focusing on wholesale and shows but are hoping for a retail season in the future.
  • ‘Make your bread and butter something you are very confident in and are very proud of’ {Claire}
  • Claire has found that it is so very important to always be confident about your pricing.
  • You can find Claire and her partner Steven at Studio Vine, Woodruff Glass and on Instagram.


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[100] 10 Truths About Running a Handmade Business


Welcome to Episode 100 of the Create & Thrive Podcast!

And it’s double celebrations, because it’s not only the 100th episode, but also the 2nd birthday of the podcast this week.

*throws confetti*

To celebrate the 100th episode, I decided to look back over the last 2 years of episodes, as well as ruminate on my (almost) 9 years running my own handmade business.

To wit, I have recorded what my best friend would call a ‘real talk’ episode – where I lay down 10 (sometimes hard) truths about running a handmade business.

In short:

Is it hard work? Yes.

Is it worth it? Heck yes!

I hope you find this episode heartening and grounding. It’s been a joy to produce this podcast for you over the last 2 years, and I look forward to bringing you a new episode each week into the future!

Almost 9,000 people listened to the show in March (2017), with over 13,000 downloads – which, compared to previous months, shows me that more and more of you are discovering the podcast and enjoying what I have to share with you.

So – thank YOU for being here, and I hope you continue to enjoy every episode I bring your way!

Jess x



Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Everything will take longer than you think it will
  • Website, photos, social media posts, growth of your biz – absolutely everything!
  • Give yourself twice as much time as you think each task will take.
  • For more on this make sure you listen to Episode 30 – 5 Time Management Hacks You Should Try Today.
  • 2. You can’t compete on price – so find something else that makes you stand out
  • ‘If you are competing on price you are treating yourself like a commodity’ {Jess}
  • You need to make people fall in love with what you do.
  • You need to find your unique selling point to make you stand out from the crowd.
  • ‘Not competing on price but because what you make is so special that nobody else does it: that’s when you will find success’ {Jess}
  • For more on this make sure you listen to Episode 53 – Why You Need to Find Your Micro Niche.
  • 3. You WILL have unhappy customers
  • It will happen at some point along your way so you must be prepared.
  • If you have done your best, it is probably not your fault but you need to be equipped to handle it with grace.
  • For more on this make sure you listen to Episode 3 – How to Provide Outstanding Online Customer Service and Episode 82 – How to Deal with Unhappy Customers.
  • 4. There will be days/weeks when you fall out of love with your biz/lose your passion
  • Don’t panic – this is normal and happens to most of us.
  • Accept the creative cycle and learn to work with the ups and downs.
  • ‘Take the time to recharge yourself and re-energise’ {Jess}
  • For more on this make sure you listen to Episode 81 – How to Overcome Creative Block with Christina Lowry and Episode 99 – Making Friends with the Tyranny of Never Being Finished.
  • 5. No less than 50% of your time will be spend on non-making tasks
  • This will be especially apparent in the beginning stages of your business.
  • You need to invest so much time into all of the business tasks to create your business.
  • For more on this make sure you listen to Episode 62 – Making the Transition from Hobbyist to Business Owner.
  • 6. There is a wall that you will hit – and you have to decide if you’re happy to stay inside it, or break out to grow. If you don’t want to grow, that’s okay, too!
  • There will come a point where you will hit a wall where you cannot do any more than you already are.
  • You have to decide if you are happy to stay inside the wall or break it down and grow outside of it.
  • You can always bring help into the business or outsource tasks.
  • ‘You don’t always have to grow’ {Jess}
  • For more on this make sure you listen to Episode 97 – How to Expand Your Business with Poppy Treffry.
  • 7. You can’t do it alone
  • Even if you are a one person show you still need others for help and advice.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek out guidance or ask for help when you need it.
  • Find your community and it will be a huge help both practically and emotionally.
  • For more on this make sure you listen to Episode 77 – How to Run an Effective Business Partnership with Nicole and Delilah from Dear Handmade Life.
  • 8. Working for yourself is better (and more secure!) than working for someone else
  • When you work for yourself you have so much more control and security than you do when you are at the mercy of a boss and a job.
  • If you can figure it all out – and it can be so awesome and empowering working for yourself.
  • For more on this make sure you listen to Episode 63 – What’s Your Definition of Success?
  • 9. You will doubt yourself, be scared, and wonder if it’s worth it (spoiler, so does everyone else!)
  • ‘It is perfectly normal to feel self doubt, to feel fear, to have these moments of existential crisis’ {Jess}
  • Don’t ever let self doubt and fear stop you.
  • Always remember, what is the worst that could happen?
  • For more on this make sure you listen to Episode 31 – Kirsten Devitt on Creativity and Confidence and Episode 58 – Why Perfection is a Dangerous Illusion.
  • 10. There is no right way to anything – only your way
  • ‘I believe in evidence and autonomy’ {Jess}
  • Listen to advice, but remember it’s just that – advice based on one person’s experience. Trust your own experience. Do what works for you and your biz.
  • For more on this make sure you listen to Episode 46 – The Power of Being True to You in Business with Jill from For Strange Women.


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