Chereen Leong Schwarz has worked hard to build a super-engaged instagram following, which has helped her create a thriving handmade business!

I’ve known Chereen for a few years now – she’s a member of my Thriver Circle membership community – and she also took my Set Up Shop course a few short years ago – and I’ve loved to watch her creative business journey. Today, I’m stoked to be sharing it with you!

Since launching properly in 2019, she’s had over 800 sales in her Etsy shop, and she’s just getting started…

A huge part of this success has been the wonderful community she has grown on instagram – through a combination of amazing branding and intense focus on growing engagement in her community.

In this episode we talk about how she’s pivoted from being an overworked chef to being self-employed, how branding and instagram have been vital to this success, and her plans for the future!

P.S. Chereen has also recently launched a Creating your Brand Workbook, and if you listen to the show, you’ll get a lovely discount!

You can listen to this episode below, or on your fave podcasting app!

Do you want to learn how to set up your own online craft shop and get it right, first time?

Want access to a proven system that over 1,000 makers have used to set up a stellar online shop?

Check out my flagship course – Set Up Shop

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Highlights from this episode:


  • In 2017, Chereen learned to knit from YouTube and after sharing some photos to Instagram her friends started requesting to purchase her beanies.
  • Chereen came across the Create and Thrive podcast and started binging episodes during her prep time as a chef. In 2018, she enrolled in Set Up Shop and took the rest of the year to get her Etsy store sorted before opening it in 2019.
  • Although she started with selling beanies, Chereen began to design and sell beanie patterns as well. 
  • She is now fully self-employed and splits her time between her beanie and catering businesses and ensuring her work-life balance is sustainable.
  • She has found her niche on Instagram building relationships with people in the knitting and making communities.
  • “On my Instagram account most of my followers are other makers and I think a lot of us struggle with this” {Chereen}
  • Chereen realised she loved working with other makers so has pivoted her Instagram to become more of a tool for connection.
  • She has developed a clear visual style and brand for her account and was approached by other makers about tips and tricks to do this. As a result, Chereen has developed a branding workbook for creative entrepreneurs.
  • Chereen’s values are evident in her business including donating a percentage of her profits each month to charity organisations and phasing in using ethically sourced and sustainable materials for her beanies.
  • “Be unapologetically yourself—whatever that is” {Chereen}
  • Find elements of your personality and interests to emphasise as part of your brand. This will set you apart and allow customers to identify your brand and works more easily. 
  • “Be intentional about Instagram…don’t just slap a photo up there because you feel like you need to post” {Chereen}
  • Keep your posts authentic—share stories, engage with your audience and connect with other makers and customers.
  • Find Chereen’s work (and her branding workbook!) on her website – Smeeny Beanie Knits!

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