The path to creative entrepreneurship is paved with mistakes made, lessons learned and, hopefully, even some success. Returning in 2023, The Finders Keepers Creative Business Summit – an all-day event that’s designed for career crafters, makers and small-business shakers – aims to cover all that and more while celebrating what it means to be courageously creative.
Happening on Friday 17 March in Melbourne/Naarm at The Edge in Federation Square, the lineup of speakers and panellists is a who’s who of independent business and entrepreneurial expertise – including Peppermint‘s own editor Lauren Baxter, who’ll be giving the inside scoop on pitching to the media as a responsible business. Plus there’s delicious morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, networking drinks, goodie bags, lucky door prizes and the chance to spend time with other creatives.
“Events shift stuff. We can’t quite explain it,” shared founders Sarah Thornton and Brooke Johnston. “We know from experience that events like this can be pivotal when you feel stuck, unsure, and burnt out. Those ‘aha!’ moments you get from a talk, a quiet moment or a conversation can create a ripple effect in your business or spark an idea you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
Business owners now more than ever need support, ideas and connections to continue to thrive.
“We also know that the world is changing rapidly. Business owners now more than ever need support, ideas and connections to continue to thrive – us included! That is why we created the Summit. We want to help you get unstuck, create an impact and shift the paradigm of how we all do business… We’ve curated an inspiring, thought-provoking, relevant, actionable, and transformative event with a lineup of speakers we’re so excited to hear from and know you will be too! We know you’ll walk away with so much more than business tips (but there will also be plenty of those!).”
To give you some insights about what you’ll hear on the day, we reached out to some of the courageously creative speakers who’ll be at the summit and asked them one simple question: “What would you tell yourself at the start of your creative journey?”
Matt and Lentil Purbrick
Co-founders Minimum Wines
Matt: First and foremost, use your intuition to guide not only your creativity but also your decision-making. What does your gut say? Secondly, express yourself strongly, manifesting your ideas into existence while collaborating along the way. And thirdly, patience – don’t expect every seed to fruit immediately. These three elements combined mean stepping into conversation and collaboration with a clear sense of your own identity, allowing your work to grow to be more substantial, its impact broader and appreciation more profound. Earlier in life, this perspective on my work would have meant I didn’t allow those with “power” to take mine (whether that be diluting or taking ideas or making the work feel undervalued) and saved some of my heartaches.
Use your intuition to guide not only your creativity but also your decision-making.
Lentil: Honesty with yourself. If you are setting out on a project with an intention that doesn’t feel true to yourself, aligned with your values or you can’t answer the question of why you are doing it… don’t do it. Spend time – like Matt said, patience – figuring out the “why”. This process sets you on a path that is true to yourself and much more fulfilling, successful and empowering in the end.
Artist and crafter
It’s ok to have fun, to explore and to play with any concept freely. Do what excites you but always be mindful of putting thought and effort behind your work. I would tell myself to not worry, to trust in your process and that what you intend will make sense in the end.
I’m inspired by my travels – having lived in different parts of the world I am influenced by both where I was born and where I choose to live now. I love travelling and being influenced by different arts and crafts and how they can form a sense of identity and community. I’m inspired by these crafts and the idea of playing with materials and forms to create something new and meaningful.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is to be true to yourself. Always do your own work and try not to be influenced negatively by trends and what is popular around you.
Trust in your process… what you intend will make sense in the end.
Listen to your gut. That little tingle or alarm that goes off can be both positive or a cause for concern. When I haven’t tapped into what it senses I often end up with not the best outcome. I’ve learned things the hard way too many times to count.
Back yourself. Don’t wait for others to do it – be the first person to champion yourself. You will have times of self-doubt and that’s ok. Remember, your path is yours to follow. If you’re unsure, it’s always ok to ask for help.
Play and fail. Allow yourself to pursue ideas and new techniques without the pressure of success. Embrace learning and making mistakes. Thrive off it. The world won’t end.
Celebrate your accomplishments. Make sure you take time out to reflect on your successes. Whether big or small, it’s important to recognise achievements in the here and now.
Call yourself out. Be aware when you’re procrastinating. “Eat the frog first” and don’t do things at the last minute. Always look at ways for self-improvement.
Co-founder, Clothing the Gaps
Growing up as a teenage Gunditjmara woman in Collingwood in the 90s, I craved fashion that represented and connected me to my culture and people. Other than my Melbourne Blacks basketball singlet and my Aboriginal flag tee, there were few options in my wardrobe. Back then, the idea that all Australians would get behind Black fashion seemed impossible. I definitely didn’t realise I could have a business – I didn’t know anyone who did!
I started creating Aboriginal merchandise – mostly running singlets and using these as incentives for the programs I was leading at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service. They created a sense of team, connection and belonging. Around the same time, I started making Aboriginal earrings – I’ve always been a big earring kinda girl! From my kitchen table, my passion for earrings has grown to be a family business The Koorie Circle that many other women have also fallen in love with!
So, this was the creative journey that primed me for Clothing The Gaps, an Aboriginal social enterprise and streetwear label that creates merch with a message – that unites Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous people through fashion and a cause.
Look inward and think about what you love and are passionate about. Follow your passion wherever it leads.
Little did I realise, but health promotion and motivating communities to strive towards positive health behaviour change was the perfect training ground for marketing a tee with the purpose to influence social change. Our tees allow people to speak without speaking and let people know what you stand for – they’re a time stamp of the movements in First Nations peoples’ fight for justice in this country.
If I was talking to a young First Nations person who wanted to start their own business today, I’d tell them now is the perfect time. There’s lots of support and opportunities to make something. I’d tell them not to look for the gaps in the market or what they think “might” work. Look inward and think about what you love and are passionate about. Follow your passion wherever it leads.
I love when someone says that by creating Clothing the Gaps, I’m showing them they can have a business too, but that’s not my main reason for doing it. We do everything with mob in our hearts and everyone else in our minds. We wanted to create a space for people to step into to have these important discussions about Australia’s true history of 60,000 years.
Times have certainly changed, my wardrobe is now overflowing with clothes from First Nations designers and businesses, and it’s not just First Nations people wearing these clothes anymore! That means there’s enough room for everyone, for all First Nations businesses.
Designer and founder, Togetherness Design
If I could give myself a pep talk 10 years ago, I would tell myself, “Everyone’s creative journey looks different and there is no one way to go about things.”
It’s taken me a while to get to a place where I feel comfortable with the particular way I approach designing and making decisions for my business… and I’m still working on it! There are plenty of times when I compare myself to others and it makes me feel awful – and maybe this will always be the case – but I’ve learned that I feel the best about my work when I stay true to my own likes and values, despite what is trending or what others are doing. Likewise, I could make more savvy business decisions – maybe by focusing on keeping up with Instagram reels and social media or by finding faster and more cost-effective ways to make my products than by hand – but it’s just not me, and it’s not what I want to put out into the world. I hope that this authenticity shines in my work and my brand Togetherness and that the pieces that I create can stand the test of time.
Everyone’s creative journey looks different and there is no one way to go about things.
Founder and director, Common Intent, Ethical Made Easy, Worn For Good
Never be afraid to message someone on Instagram, to ask people out for coffee, to be their biggest cheerleader and to believe in their work alongside your own. There is truly enough space for everyone. Some of your closest friends and biggest opportunities will come from this – as long as you are coming from a genuine place of wanting to support and help others.
Downtime is more important than you think. Slow down. Delete social media over the weekend (this is still a work in progress for me but I find it so valuable every time I do). The more you slow down, the more things speed up. Give yourself space to think and see how your ideas become clearer.
If you believe in your dream enough, you’ll find a way. But be ok with it morphing and changing as you grow. Don’t restrict yourself to the way you thought things would go. Sometimes things work out better than you could have imagined.
Ultimately, learn to listen to your gut. Tune into your intuition and follow it.
Have grit, have patience and above all, be kind.
Cat Bloxsom and Morgan Collins
As a creative person, it’s really easy to get lost in the weeds, focusing on making every little detail perfect. But realistically, done is better than perfect. Ultimately, it’s not until you get something into the market and start receiving customer feedback that you’ll start to know whether or not you’re on the right track. If you’re not embarrassed by your first product, you’ve launched too late. When we look back at our first product offering and compare it to where we are today, we’ve evolved a lot! Maintaining that momentum and constantly testing and trying new things in the early days is super important. There is no silver bullet for success.