Made By Mrs M

Leaving it to the last minute...

Craft, Paper, ProductsKate Marsden

I'm usually pretty organised when it comes to Christmas but I really struggled to feel festive at the start of the month, and as a result ended up falling behind.

My shop will remain open over the Christmas break (I just won't be going to the Post Office between 24 December and 2 January) and my last orders for the UK aren't until midnight tomorrow, but if you feel you've left it a bit late I do have somthing for you!

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My festive download bundle is available at any time of day or night (including Christmas morning if neccessary!) and it contains this rather fetching wrapping paper, cards for those people you've fogotten about (there's still just about time to post those too at the moment!) and some lovely festive bunting, which could be a nice thing to make with the children on Christmas Eve in an attempt to contain their excitement....


You can order the bundle here - and, as I mentioned, it's an instant download so all you need to do is print your stuff out and go!

But if you'd rather buy a physical product, last orders before Christmas are at midnight tomorrow Tuesday 19 December and I will be posting all orders first class.

Come and see me Tonight! And on Saturday...

Events, London, ShoppingKate Marsden

My last two events for 2017 (and other than the Quilter's Fair at Farnham Maltings next month my last for quite some time!) are tonight and Saturday. I'll have a few bargains as I start to clear my stock of products (more info on this here) so it'll be a great opportunity to get those stocking fillers!


Tonight - from 4-9pm - you can find me at the wonderful Geffrye Museum for the Crafty Fox Night Market. This is one of my favourite venues - a perfect stop off on the way home from work...


And on Saturday, it's another Crafty Fox but a new venue for me - Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant & Castle...

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Sounds like you'll be able to get some great food at this one too!


Get the full list of stalls at both events over on the Crafty Fox Market website and find all of my upcoming events (including workshops) here.

My 10 Favourite Things to do in London

Architecture, Art, Inspiration, London, TravelKate Marsden

In 2018 I will have lived in one London borough or another for 20 years (and in 2018 that will also represent half of my life - eeek!). During the last 20 years the places I love the most have changed a little but some are the same - here are a few of my favourite spots at the moment. A nice little list if you're visiting over the Christmas break!

So, in no particular order...

1. Shoreditch


I'll admit I chose this first as I love this picture so much! Shoreditch is really easy to get to on the Overground from West Croydon, so I actually visit more often since we moved further out of town. Great street art, the first ever social housing (the stunning Arnold Circus - definitely worth a stroll away from the main drag), and if you walk a little further on a Sunday morning the lovely (if heaving) Columbia Road Flower Market. So many photo opportunties...

2. The Geffrye Museum


Just up the road in Hoxton is the Geffrye Museum - the Geffrye is amazing and features room sets from the 1600s to the 1990s (at this time of year it's all decorated for Christmas too!). In the summer you can take a stroll in the beautiful walled garden and almost forget you're in London.

3. The Horniman Museum


Heading back down the Ginger Line (or the Overground) you come to Forest Hill and my son's favourite place in London (or so he told me this morning!). The Horniman is a lovely spot with a brilliant natural history gallery ("I love the stuffed in animals best Mummy") including the famous walrus, and a bargantastic aquarium in the basement and lots more besides. Another lovely garden if you visit when the weather's nice too.

4. Tate Modern


I became a member of the Tate in 2000 and it's been the best investment. I haven't managed to visit as much as usual this year but I intend to remedy that in 2018! I love the new Switch House extension shown above (you need to see the stairs!) and I make full use of the members rooms as places to sit and relax to get away from it all.

5. Tate Britain


And that leads nicely onto Tate Britain - very different architectually but still completely ace. I love the Pre-Raphelites and this floor (amongst other things!).

6. The View from Alexandra Palace


Whether the view from Ally Pally is worth the trip up there is perhaps debatable but I do turn and stare in wonder ever time I visit. The view above is from the terrace at the front of the buiding but you get a pretty awesome view on the walk up the hill too - use it as an excuse to stop and catch your breath on the way up!

7. The Fashion & Textile Museum


A brilliant line-up of exhibitions in a lovely little museum. The Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey is a real gem (and also has a lovely cafe). I think this year's Josef Frank exhibition above is probably my favourite so far.

8. The Barbican


I love this place so much. Back in the day I used to run around here in my lunchbreak or after work (particularly good on a wet day as so much of it is under cover) and I stared at it from my office window. The Barbican boasts amazing Brutalist architecture, great places to eat, look at art, see shows, shop... the list goes on!

9. The South Bank


The picture above was taken just outside the Royal Festival Hall during the Mollie Makes Awards Photowalk this summer, but I love pretty much the whole stretch of the South Bank (the National Theatre being a highlight though of course). Last year for a homework project for the little man we walked (and photographed all of the bridges) from Tower Bridge to Battersea Park and there are so many great things to see and do along the way. Friends who visit London almost always get dragged along here!

10. Croydon


Croydon is my neighbour (and yes it's a London Borough so counts!) and it's having a bit of a renaissance. When I get suburban cabin fever but don't have time to venture into town I hop on the 157 and go to Croydon instead. Boxpark isn't massively popular with all the locals but it's bringing people from all over the place so is basically a good thing, and the street art is starting to rival Shoreditch. They even had a month long Warhol festival back in September. So plenty to see and do!

Where do you like to visit in London? Anywhere a little different/off the beaten track?

Month in the Life - November

Month in the LifeKate Marsden

November was colourful but cold.... exciting meetings, but also big business decisions, a couple of short breaks and lots of being ill (both me and the little man). Here's my best bits...


Making origami Christmas decorations with my downloadable wrapping paper.


Feeling the cold!!


Exciting fabric related talks...


Prep for my pop-up at the Village Haberdashery.


A child-free trip to Ljubljana.


A weekend staying with friends (and building Lego!) in Manchester.




And teaching a lampshade workshop in Carshalton.

365 Days of Coloured Stuff - Nearly There!

Inspiration, PhotographyKate Marsden

Less than a month to go! I have mostly enjoyed the project even if at times I've wondered if I'm going to run out of "stuff"! I'll plan some kind of exciting roundup of the completed 365 images in the new year (I'm thinking of making myself a little book!), but in the meantime, here are a few update shots. You can follow along with the #365daysofcolouredstuff hashtag on Instagram where I'll be posting until the 31st...

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Come and see me in December!

Events, London, TextilesKate Marsden

As I mentioned in my post the other week (where I announced that I plan to stop making products and selling at markets - you can read more about my decision here) I mentioned that I have a couple of events lined up so I plan to go out with a bang!

Just two markets in December and as only seems fitting they're both from my favourites, Crafty Fox! The night market at the Geffrye Museum was one of my most successful single day events last year (and it's only a few hours long!) so I'll be back there on Thursday 14 December...


Then two days later I'll be at a new venue in Elephant & Castle - Mercato Metropolitano...

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This one might be your last chance to get hold of my notebooks, cushions and other products, depending on stock levels - I will let you know if they're running low beforehand so you know what to expect!

In the New Year I'll be at Farnham Maltings again on Sunday 14 January at their Quilting Fabric Sale - here I'll have discounted fabrics (all kinds not just my own) and anything I have left in the way of products after Christmas. So a date for your diary if you're after fabric!

Indie Friday!

Business, ShoppingKate Marsden

Everyone at team Just A Card (and most people who own or work in any kind of independent business) pretty much loathe Black Friday. People stop shopping with us altogether and go and spend masses of money on stuff they don't need (or really want half the time!) from the big chains.

This year, instead of desperately discounting in an attempt to compete, or sitting in a corner rocking slowly, we've decided to do something about it - so tomorrow will actually be INDIE FRIDAY!

A limited numebr of cushions now available here

A limited numebr of cushions now available here

We have some wonderful graphics designed by Angela Chick and Sarah Cowan and we really hope you'll join in - if you're an independent shop or designer/maker use our graphics to help promote your work (you can download them here) and let's try and fill social media with the good stuff - we'll be using the hashtags #JACIndieFriday and #JustACard.

If you're more of a shopper than a maker, then please follow the two hashtags and share and share (and if you can, shop too!). We really want to take the negativity away from this day of consumerism and if we can get the hashtags trending, and plenty of people talking and shopping, we will have succeeded!

The Just A Card Christmas Gift Guide is out tomorrow too so keep an eye out for that from 7am at - once again compiled by the wonderful Sarah Cowan.


Floor Goals

Inspiration, Interiors, Pattern Design, Products, ReviewKate Marsden

I received some flooring samples from Atra Floor a few months ago (you can read all about them here) and they were fab. However my eyes lit up when I saw their new Flower Power Fauvism collection. They kindly send me a sample of my favourite to share with you and I've been having lots of fun with it!

Image (c) Atra Floor

Image (c) Atra Floor

The collection is inspired by Fauvism and featured gorgeous hand painted flowers and leaves. My sample is now sitting in my studio in the manner of a rug (and even like that and surrounded by the chaos it looks wonderful!) - I see many a future flatlay (and dream of replacing the carpet with it)...

Image (c) Atra Floor

Image (c) Atra Floor

I went for the Mimi colourway but it comes in lots of other options.

Image (c) Atra Floor

Image (c) Atra Floor


*I was not paid to write this post, however the samples were sent to me free of charge. All opinions are my own.

Some news... it's time for a change

Kate Marsden

When I thought about writing a post like this one a few months ago, the idea horrified me. I was coming to the realisation that my business is not viable and either something needed to change radically or I had to basically give up. Now faliure is a very big word which I feel hanging over my head constantly, and I was so anxious and stressed that I couldn't see the wood for the trees. Not a good time to make big life changing decisions...


However I have now had something of an epiphany (partly due to Mr M sitting me down and telling my some hard facts, not just about the financial viability of my business but also about the negative impact it's having on my family) and finally I'm seeing through those trees and I have a plan - at least for the short-term.

I will not be closing Made By Mrs M, however I will be closing the product side of my business. I spend a massive amount of time attempting to sell my products - probably many hours for every single item I sell - if I think about my time properly I never really make a profit on anything. Sales have completely stagnated (in fact dropped sligtly) in 2017 and the dream of ever being able to make a living now seems frankly laughable.

Partly due to this, I've completely lost the love for my products - it's even harder to sell stuff when you no longer love it yourself. I no longer get excited about launching something new or attending a fair or market. Photographing my new work is a chore which I put off, as is listing the items on my website and Etsy. Then every month as I watch more money going out than coming in I just feel anxious, stressed and thoroughly miserable. This isn't how it was supposed to be.


Now, having said this there are elements of what I do that I still love. I still love designing patterns for fabric, and I don't plan to stop doing this. I will however not be launching a spring collection in 2018 - rather I'll revert to what I used to do (for a while at least) - if I create a new design or two which I like enough to add to my existing range I'll do that. Less fuss and less work, but still new fabrics from time to time for those of you who love them (and I know you do - it still amazes me that people like them enough to buy them at all so thank you). I'm also enjoying my illustration work more and I intend to do more of this and continue to offer custom illustrations and work with companies on licencing on an ad hoc basis.

So, I have now closed my shop on this website, but the website itself will remain. My Etsy shop will stay open selling my fabrics, custom illustrations and any small products or original work I fancy adding from time to time (with no pressure). All existing products are still there and available to purchase at the moment.

I do have a few markets lined up (but not many) you can find all my upcoming events here. At the moment I don't plan to book any more (other than our local open studios next year) but that may change if I start to miss doing them! 


Thank you for reading this far. I wanted to add a word at the end about the Just A Card campaign - which I continue to volunteer for and which remains very close to my heart. Despite the increasing popularity of the campaign I know that many of us are still struggling - lots of businesses have failed this year, including a couple of places local to me which I've been rather upset about, but the message of the campaign really is true - no if I sell just one card in a week (which happens sometimes) I cannot keep going, but if everyone who tells me my work is amazing buys one (or something else small) I will keep going.

Unfortunately when it comes to my products I've completely lost the love - there's only so long you can cheerfully try and flog something that people don't want; but if it's too late for me, please do think about the other artists, designer makers, shops and galleries you love. It's all looking a bit bleak out there to me at the moment and I really hope that if we continue to work hard together on this we can still turn it around.

Work in Progress...

Craft, Sewing, TextilesKate Marsden

I tend to really struggle to find the time to work on personal projects. But when I do, I like to have a go at something a little different (for me at least) and it always tends to turn in to something epic! I used to provide regular updates here on these projects of mine, but it's been a while! Here's what I'm working on at the moment/have recently finished...

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The quilt! I've been working on this for just over 3 years on and off. I've now finished piecing it and I'm nearly ready to start the quilting - so call back in another 3 years!!

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Now this next one's finished... Two years ago I got a needlepoint cushion kit from Pompom Design - I finished stitching it last Christmas but only got around to turning it into a cushion in the summer (which took all of 15 minutes...). Here it is after a couple of months of being kicked around the sofa/living room by a 7 year old...


Holding up pretty well so far! As this took me so long to make I am quite precious about it, much to the annoyance of everyone else in the house! 

So, as I'd finished this one (but not the quilt), I bought another kit at the Knitting & Stitching Show last month, and here's work in progress on the next one (this kit is called Kumo)...


Now my dressmaking wips could take up a whole other post (or two) - and I'm feeling pretty meh about them at the moment, so maybe watch this space for an update there!

What long term projects are you working on? Anything interesting you think I'd like to try (once I've finished these of course...!)?

Getting Organised for Christmas...

Events, ProductsKate Marsden

For us small business owners, Christmas is never that far from our minds (unfortunately - I do love it but not all year round!), but now that I'm actually starting to think about it from the point of view of buying cards and gifts myself I thought I'd share some new things I've added to the shop!


After the success of my Christmas cards last year, I've decided to go for it again! This year's design is a festive take on my chairs and plants patterns and is inspired by the 1950's room at the Geffrye Museum when it's decorated for Christmas. They are available here and in my Etsy shop.

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And, exclusively to my Etsy shop, I've also put together a bumper download bundle. Last year I sold greetings card downloads but this year I've put a whole bundle together! There's the cards, plus giftwrap and bunting - so you can coordinate! You can get hold of the bundle here.


I'll have a few pre-printed (and cut) sets of the bunting with me at the Village Haberdashery Maker's Market this coming Sunday (12 November) as well if you fancy saving yourself some prep time!

Month in the Life - October

Kate Marsden

Another busy month! Workshops, collaborations, new work and a holiday. Phew! Here are my best bits...


I got some lovely new books! This one is A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon and I also got Making Winter by Emma Mitchell.


A fab workshop at Creative Happy London - find and book all my upcoming workshops here.


Printing tote bags with the lovely Kaylene Alder. You can get yours here!


I wrote my first tutorial in an absolute age.


Made it to the Knitting & Stitching Show and got messy!


Had a clear out to make way for new stock - there are still some bargain £1 notebooks available here.


Got some new glasses and spent half term in the New Forest.


Received a lovely floor sample from Atra Floor (watch this space for more info!) and entered the Ohh Deer Pillow Fight for the first time in years (you can vote for me here).




Coming Up in November!

Craft, Events, Inspiration, Sewing, Textiles, WorkshopsKate Marsden

The run down to Christmas is approaching fast! Lots of things coming up to get you in the festive mood this month...

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My first market of the season will be on Sunday 12 November at the Village Haberdashery in West Hampstead - they're showcasing two makers each Sunday up until Christmas. Come along, start your shopping and take a look at this beautiful shop if you haven't been before!

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Workshop wise, I have two lampshade workshops lined up - the first is THIS SATURDAY (and bookings close tomorrow so quick!!) - this is my popular 20cm diameter drum shade workshop as seen above and below and will be running once again in Camberwell at Creative Happy London.

Then if you'd like something a little different we'll be making BIG lampshades at Dotty's Teahouse in Carshalton on Tuesday 28 November - also booking now.


Then on Saturday 11 November come along and start making your own Christmas presents with me at Creative Happy London - we'll be making lavender bags or masks using a range of fabrics - suitable for all levels.


A Well Timed Pick-me-up

Books, Craft, Drawing, Inspiration, Painting, ReviewKate Marsden

I've always felt that Emma Mitchell is very good at judging what people need and when - like the day I turned up at her beautiful cottage in Cambridgeshire, feeling a bit nervous about joining a bunch of people I didn't know for an intimate workshop at the dining table (it was ace by the way, you can read about it here) - I was handed tea in a beautiful handcrafted mug and the most delicious cake I've ever eaten. And so the ice was well and truly broken!


I think Emma was one of the first people I "met" on Twitter, long before she had the Instagram fame she has now achieved! So you can imagine how thrilled I was to hear there was a book in the pipeline. Well it's here now and has already been really popular (my pre-order copy took ages to come as it would appear that Amazon ran out!) - it's clear to see why.


The aim of Making WInter is to inspire us through the darker months with makes and bakes and colour - it reminds me in part of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady - a book which my Mum had when I was little and which I used to flick through regularly (while attempting to copy the drawings) - but obviously less of a diary and more of a modern take, with beautiful photography and lots more besides.


Any book which inspires me to bake has to be a success (although I have been thinking about that cake Emma made for nearly two years so I probably just needed a nudge) - I'm also thinking of getting the old crochet hook and yarn out again (if I can remember how to do it). I've realised how rarely I now craft for the sake of it rather than for a product or so I can write about it here.


I'm very much inspired by the idea of keeping a winter nature diary and I think this is something I should try doing with the little man - maybe we could both keep one! I spent an evening sitting on the sofa just flicking through the book and it made me want to get up and do something and I think that has to be a good thing...

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Making Winter by Emma Mitchell is published by LOM Art and is available now.

This is not a sponsored post.

Snazzy Peg Bag Tutorial

Craft, Inspiration, Sewing, Textiles, TutorialsKate Marsden

I'm back on the tutorial bandwagon!!!! Well for this week at least.... It's been an absolute age and I thought it was about time. I recently bought a new peg bag as my old one was disintigrating after 15 years of use. Someone told me I should've made my own but I pleaded lack of time. However as my old bag had a rather lovely wooden hanger inside I thought I'd make one anyway and put that to use!


So here it is. Made with my Dining Chairs fabric, I think it looks rather good. Here's what you'll need to make your own.

Wooden coathanger (preferably shaped like the one shown below)

1 x Fat Quarter of my Dining Chairs fabric - if you choose to use a different fabric make sure it measures at least 50cm deep by 75cm wide.

Thread, pins, scissors, sewing machine, iron and ironing board.

Pattern - available to download here.


1. Print your downloaded pattern pieces out onto A4 paper at full size - tape together and then cut out along the dotted line.

2. Fold your fabric and pin the pattern to it on the fold (I cut my fabric into two pieces first - each measuring 50cm high by 37.5cm wide. Then cut out.


3. Once you've cut your fabric out, remove the pattern and cut it across the middle on either one of the dotted lines as shown.


4. Cut this piece on the fold.


5. Remove the pattern from the fabric, sellotape the two patten pieces together and then cut along the other dotted line. Cut this piece out on the fold as well.


6. You should now have three pieces which look like this...


7. Press all three pieces and then fold in the edges of the front opening by approximatly 3/4mm. Fold again to hide the raw edge and press. Do the same with the centre top of both sides as shown below (this is where the neck of the coathanger will sit).


8. Topstitch all of these folds in place as close to the edge as you can.


9. Trim your threads then place the pieces right side together. Pin and stitch from neck opening to neck opening, ensuring you leave plenty of space to insert the coat hanger.


10. Trim the corners then turn the bag out to the right side.


11. Give it a good press, insert the coathanger and you're done!


The pattern pieces look like those below - ensure you print them at full size. They can be downloaded here.

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Getting Inky at the Knitting & Stitching Show

Craft, Events, Inspiration, TextilesKate Marsden

I had a fab time at the Knitting & Stitching Show last week, and for the first time ever I arrived before the doors opened! By the way I'd recommend you do this as it was nice and quiet at 10am... Anyway, I didn't arrive early because I'm a morning person; I'd booked myself on a workshop!


So by 10.30am I was up to my elbows in black acryclic paint! I joined a workshop led by Nicole Line who taught us monoprinting and stamping with Gelli Plates. A new technique for me and a lot messier than I'm used to (which was a good thing!) - I'm now off to get my hands on a Gelli Plate as it was really good fun and I'd like to experiment more.

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The best of the prints have made it onto my studio wall

The best of the prints have made it onto my studio wall

After a clean up it was time to shop... You may recall that a couple of years ago I started work on a needlepoint cushion from Pompom Designs (which I've finished and I plan to blog about - promise!), well after a few months without needlepoint I felt the urge to do another - the first one only took a year after all... So I bought the Kumo Cushion Kit and started it as soon as I got home!


I had my usual sweep around the textile galleries - I have to say that my planning was poor this year and I wandered around in a very ad hoc manner - not recommended - I'm sure I missed things, but a couple of highlights were Rachael Howard, Diana Harrison and the winning quilts from the Festival of Quilts.

Rachael Howard

Rachael Howard

Diana Harrison

Diana Harrison

Quilt by Mary Palmer and Anne Kiely

Quilt by Mary Palmer and Anne Kiely

I didn't do a lot more shopping - just a few bits and bobs for upcoming workshops, and I treated myself to a pair of mittens from Prilly Lewis - I think you'll be seeing a lot of photos of them on my instagram over the coming months!

Prilly Lewis

Prilly Lewis

Now off to finish my work as quickly as possible so I can sneak in a little more needlepoint before the school run...

2 Minutes (plus a bit!) with... Patricia van den Akker

Books, Business, InspirationKate Marsden

2 Minutes with... returns this week with a bumper (so not really 2 minutes!) post, which I hope you'll find really inspiring. A peek into the world of the wonderful Patricia van den Akker of The Design Trust whose Business Club membership and coaching have helped me enormously over the past couple of years.

Read on to hear more about Patricia and her latest Dream Plan Do Kickstater campaign...

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Hello Patricia! Who are you and what do you do?

I wear a couple of hats! I am a creative business adviser & trainer and the Director of The Design Trust, the online business school for designers and makers, based in North London. I regularly write and talk about creative business development, and work with organisations and businesses across the UK, from Etsy to the New Designers graduate exhibition, to Top Drawer and Made London to various universities and creative professional development programmes. For the last 5 years I also wrote the business column The Design Doctor for Crafts Magazine, and I regularly write blog posts for our own website and others such as Mollie Makes Magazine, Etsy and Folksy.

I’m very involved with the Just A Card campaign ever since Sarah and I had lunch together at my house and she wondered if it would be a good idea to tell the world. My mum had a gift shop when I was growing up in the Netherlands so I have always been surrounded by beautiful products and really understand the tricky business of owning a shop.

Oh, and I have got two lovely girls and very supportive husband too.

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Why do you love what you do?

Haha, normally it’s me asking these kind of thought-provoking coaching questions! It’s one of my favourites, as it says so much about the values and motivations of someone. I often ask: “Why do you do what you do?”

Of course I have been doing some digging around this question, and for me it’s about showing that you can be both creative and entrepreneurial, in fact that you do NEED to be both … if you want to succeed! One feeds the other in my opinion; it’s not about being one or the other. So many creatives use ‘being a creative’ as an excuse for not being organised or not doing well. I think that’s nonsense. You do need to learn about these things if you want to be taken seriously and if it is your business (pun intended).


That all probably comes from the time when I was choosing a degree subject. My dad wasn’t overly impressed with my choice of wanting to study graphic design and more or less muttered ‘You will never make a living.’ But I did! (Although I never worked as a graphic designer a single day in my life haha!) And I am still trying to prove him wrong, and all the other nay-sayers too!

I love it when I see creatives with a sparkle in their eyes, who are ambitious, who - with a little bit of help - can go so much further. Very few graduates in the UK have a basic understanding of business and marketing, while marketing and branding can be so creative! My audience and clients are my biggest sources of inspiration! You do need to find out your own strengths but also listen to your ideal clients, it’s so inspiring to try and find the right solution and to provide innovative and really useful solutions for them.

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Recently somebody said to me: “Patricia, I have always been really scared of marketing myself, but in the last hour you have given me so many creative ideas of what I can do. They feel really right. I can’t wait to get started and get the word out.’ I love that, to be able to inspire creatives, and yes, also so that the world becomes more beautiful, creative, ambitious and inspiring.

I started my career as a creative business adviser nearly 25 years ago. At that time it was all about teaching people skills around business planning, finance and marketing. But then 10 years ago I realised that I would have very good meetings with creatives, but actually nothing would really change afterwards in their business. They were full of good intentions at the meeting, but often there were lots of things stopping them actually making the change. I was worried that I wasn’t a very good business adviser after all! Then I realised that your mindset is crucial in this change process, so I trained for 4 years as a business coach, which really helped me to start asking bigger questions instead of always having the right answer. In the last 2 years I have become rather obsessed with getting people into action. Not just thinking or talking about the business you really want to create, but actually doing it. Mucking in, failing even, and getting up again and make it happen. So much interesting psychology around that what makes creatives successful and happy, and what stops them! I can’t stop finding out more about that. I am now learning more than I ever have done.

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And so that’s my very long answer to your question about why I do what I do: I love learning and growing, and want to prove that to be successful you need to learn and fail, experiment and play, and keep going!

What inspired you to take the wealth of information on the Design Trust’s website and create the Dream Plan Do book?

I have been working with creatives for nearly 25 years, and there is so much information in my head! When I took over The Design Trust in 2011 (it was originally set up by the late Peta Levi MBE in 1984) I regularly got business questions from designers and makers. As I like to be effective I realised that many other creatives had probably the same questions, so I decided to share them to a wider audience and posted them as Q&A on The Design Trust website. I didn’t realise it at the time, but those were my first blog posts! Now, 6 years later there are over 120 blog posts on the site!

Dream Plan Do as an idea had been in my head for a couple of years (haven’t we all got an idea for a book in our minds?!). Then last summer we had major renovation work done at our house in North London. I work from home so I couldn’t do my usual job of providing online training as it was too noisy. So, I thought it would be a good time to work on my book idea!


Dream Plan Do is based on the idea that many creatives fantasise about what they would like to do and work really hard, but often they don’t dream BIG enough (often a bit scared of the fear of failure – or the fear of success!), they don’t think it through enough. They might like planning and to-do-lists and lovely planning stationery (who doesn’t!) but are you actually really working on the things that matter?

To be successful (whatever your definition of that is, either monetary or otherwise!) you do need to able to be strategic and think about the long term and be focused, you need to have a plan of how to get ‘there’, and you need to do the actions that get you clients and sales. You need to Dream Plan and Do!

With Dream Plan Do I have created a ‘coach-like’ book. The best way to explain it is that I have written half the book, and that the other half is up to you! In the Dream Plan Do planner I have broken down the process of working ON your business in quarterly and monthly sessions. Each month has another theme to work on, and each quarter you set a juicy 90-day goal. Did you know that setting a goal for 90 days is the perfect time to get something accomplished? It’s long enough to make some serious change, but short enough to keep your momentum.

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If you could collaborate with anyone (dead or alive!), who would it be?

Oh gosh, can I only select one person? To be honest I am really happy with the partnerships and clients I currently have but if there is one person that I would love to have a good dinner conversation with or get mentored by it would be Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and Founder of the Lean In organisation. I have found her a rather inspiring role model. I found her book ‘Lean In’ (about women in leadership) really inspiring, because it partly explains what’s happening in society when it comes to women at work but also what’s going on in our own heads and within groups of women or how we raise our daughters. (I have got two girls myself!) It really showed it isn’t an easy topic, and she got a lot of stuff thrown at her because of it, but I found it inspiring that somebody at her level shared her thoughts on that. More recently she has written a book called ‘Option B’, which she wrote after she lost her husband unexpectedly. I still haven’t read it as it’s about grief and if life doesn’t give you what you were hoping for and I need to find the guts a bit to tackle that one … 

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What other exciting plans do you have for the next year?

Next year I really want to make more time to do research into how successful creative businesses really work, the nitty gritty stuff. That’s what I am very interested in: how people and businesses really work.

In the last year I have had to do a lot of strategic thinking and work on my own business The Design Trust. Dream Plan Do in 2016 was really popular but that means that I need to grow the business as a whole to keep it working. Early in 2018 we will be making some major changes to the website (far more based on creative professionals real needs, motivations and goals), and I want to launch a series of new online courses for very new craft and design businesses.

I also want to share more successful role models. There are so many great business owners that have created really interesting business models or different ways of doing business and marketing. Those are the ones that I want to feature as we don’t see and celebrate success enough in society!

And actually I am really looking forward to having more time for research and writing too. I have caught the writing bug, and have ideas for other books too. Often people assume that I am really outgoing, as I do so many public speaking events, but actually allowing myself to have some quiet time to read and research is something I am really excited about. I am putting in my business plan for next year to spend around 3 months in total on research and writing for next year!

You can get the Dream Plan Do planner till 30 October on

From mid November it will be available online via If you order by 1 December then you will have your own copy in the post before Christmas.


Commissions for Christmas

Architecture, Drawing, ProductsKate Marsden

Yes, I know it's only October, but my order books are now open for Christmas commissions! This includes house portraits, other illustrations and custom cushion and lampshade orders...


Over the course of the year I've received house portrait commissons for birthdays, weddings and anniversaries - they also make a great Christmas present! With enough notice I can produce custom versions of pretty much every product I offer so do drop me a line if you have something in mind.


Last order dates will be published next month, however if you'd like to get in early and place you order for a custom illustration in October, you can get £5 off with code COMMISSION5 either here or in my Etsy shop.



Kate Marsden

Last weekend, Kaylene Alder (superstar illustrator, screen printer and Just A Card team member!) and I got together and printed up a little collaborative project we've been working on...


Tote bags! I've been wanting to work on a bag for a while and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Kaylene and I designed the bag together (featuring my chairs and her plants) and we had fun getting inky at Sonsoles Print Studio in Peckham.

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We've produced a limited run of 40 bags which are a collaboration between myself and Kaylene's Plant Prints for Peace project. 10% of all bag sales will be donated to Peace Direct, who work with local people to stop war destroying lives. You can find out more about their work here


The bags are now available here as well as in my Etsy shop - you can also buy them from Kaylene and we'll be taking them along to our markets on the run up to Christmas.