Our nine month business development programme for jewellers is an intense journey into your own process, production and outputs with support from our carefully curated INKubator, your fellow INKers and of course our ‘INKsperts’ (a word we have totally made up but totally goes with our theme).
Vanilla Ink was founded upon this programme (10 YEARS AGO!!!) and has been delivered to four different groups of jewellers. It has been fine tuned over the years and we think it is the perfect package to build, grow and sustain your craft business.
Our programme is delivered by a host of industry INKsperts to push and challenge you throughout the nine months. So let us introduce you to them.
First up is the backbone to the programme and the glue that holds it all together, Carol Sinclair, a woman who you will struggle to live without once you move on from the programme.
Vanilla Ink: Tell us, who are you and what do you do?
Carol: My name is Carol Sinclair and just like every other creative person I know I balance a few different things. I make ceramics and have done for nearly 30 years - I ran my own studio and gallery for about 15 and for the last 15 have been balancing my making with being a business adviser, trainer, mentor and project manager. I love doing both and my making definitely informs the other project work I do.
VI: What part do you play in the INKubator Programme?
C: I am lucky enough to have been involved with the INKubator programme from its earliest days and look after a few different activities. I deliver four of the business development workshops on planning, resilience, knowing your audience and managing money - always looking to bring together the business with the creative to make it relevant, practical and hopefully enjoyable. I also deliver the critical feedback sessions which give the INKers a practical and pain free way to both give and receive feedback on their creative work. And as mentoring is a key element of the programme, I do a session which prepares everyone to get the very most out of the mentoring experience.
VI: What is your favourite session you run for the programme?
C: I don’t really have a favourite session, but more of a favourite outcome. I really enjoy seeing the INKers get their heads around some of the business concepts that they had previously been unsure about. When they find a method of planning or pricing that really connects with the way they like to work I know that they have taken a significant step towards taking control and driving their practice forward. I can just feel the difference it makes to their confidence and their energy. I also love the critical feedback sessions and the way they build confidence in the creative side of things.
VI: You’ve known Kate for a VERY long time and watched the programme grow, how important do you think it is that programmes like this and other business developing workshops exist?
C: Of course I am slightly biased, but I think the INKubator programme is the best thing an early stage jeweller could possibly experience. The mix of activities is so rich and covers not just the business side of things but also the development of making skills, and the networks that are created will support the INKers for their whole professional life. Hearing from people who are doing it themselves is vital for inspiration and reassurance, but the most important thing is the way the programme supports its participants to find their own way to be successful. I don’t think there is any other business development programme quite like this, and it has come about through many years of Kate’s planning, experience and generosity in sharing the ups and downs of her creative journey.
VI: What one piece of advice would you give to someone developing their creative career?
C: Take your time. This is probably something you will do for many years to come, so don’t worry about having to do everything all at once, give yourself time to research, plan and enjoy yourself. Running your own practice is not easy but it can be the most satisfying thing you will ever do.
VI: Do you have any tips for anyone thinking about taking part in the INKubator Programme?
C: Just go for it. Throw yourself in, soak everything up and enjoy it. You deserve it.
Quick fire round;
SketchBook or Computer? More and more it’s the computer.
Kindle or Book? Book, definitely and for ever.
Super organised or last minute madness? Both! I try to enjoy the madness and then bring it all together in an organised calm.
Tea or Coffee? Depends on time of day, coffee in the morning is essential.
Shared workspace or work best on your own? On my own for making, in a group for the project stuff
PC or Mac? Mac, of course!
Inked or Clean? Inked - if that means covered in clay
Words to live your life by?
Joy - if it doesn’t bring you joy its not worth doing
Laughter - can’t get by without it
Resilience - you need it to run your own practice
Passion - it’s the passion for what you do that makes people interested
Gin - oops how did that get in there?!
We LOVE you Carol. Thank you so much for sharing your insights!
Our INKubator Programme is now open for applications and close at midnight on the 29th of September. The programme starts officially in February 2020 with a residential in January to get to know one another. See here for full details and how to apply. We accept jewellers at any stage in their career and you most certainly do not have to be university or college trained. If you want the skills, time and space to take your jewellery to the next level then the INKubator could be for you.