Whether you’re starting or growing your craft or design business, or need help with marketing, social media or just want to become more organised, The Design Trust is the online business school for creatives like you!
Welcome aboard. Start exploring here …
Become More Organised
The Design Trust 2024 hardback journal planner, incl. 6 hours online business training
Short intro to The Design Trust (we have been going since the 1980s!)
what we do
A lack of practical business and marketing knowledge, strategic experience and decision making, and confidence are the three biggest challenges designers, makers and creatives face when they are starting and growing their business. Fortunately, The Design Trust is here to help.
Through our specialist online courses and memberships, we provide practical and strategic business knowledge and step-by-step action plans, as well as the inspiration and real confidence boosters you need to get the results you want.
But best of all, we’ll get you into action to take the next steps in your creative business journey. We know the challenges ahead first hand – from our own experience of running a small business and working with 1,00o’s of creatives for over 20+ years. We know what’s stopping you and what works to get you moving forward again.
There is not one way to create a successful business. We will give you the tools, inspiration and accountability to find your own path.
Our mission is to help you create a business you’re proud of.
what we believe in
We believe that building your own creative business is the most creative project of all!
It goes far beyond just making great products to building a creative business that can be so much bigger than just you. To develop your voice, inspire communities and bring joy to many.
We want to share with you how creative and personal business development can be. From your unique products and services based on your talents and values, to how you price, brand and present yourself and your work in line with your goals and purpose. Such a creative opportunity to bring a totally unique business into the world.
Does that require overcoming many challenges and hard work? Yes.
Is it worth it? Definitely.
what we do differently
Everything we teach is based on our own 20-plus years of experience of teaching and advising 1,000s of creatives, and growing our own successful small business in the last decade.
This isn’t about theory. We blend creative and practical exercises with thought-provoking questions to find your own answers, while dipping into our community’s experience and accountability, to keep you growing all the time.
We are passionate about learning-by-doing, by sharing honest success stories, and by learning and growing together.
who we work with
The Design Trust is the specialist online business school for designers, makers and professional creative business owners.
From recent craft and design graduates and the top UK art universities, to part-timers with a side hustle or makers with a busy family life, to some of the biggest names in the UK craft & design world. If you are ready to start or grow your creative business, we want to work with you.
Whether you want to sell affordable handmade gifts on Etsy or create highly luxurious commissions to collectors, want to sell more to craft galleries or license your designs, or host your first (online) craft workshop or make the most of craft fairs.
Are you ready to create a business you’re proud of? We would love to work with you.
I’m quite bowled over by how much things have improved for me since tackling things ‘The Design Trust way’ (breaking things down, juicy goals, planning etc.). There is a huge difference in HOW I work, and the feelings and emotions, and quite frankly the energy. I achieve more these days AND have more of a life. Thank you so much.Silversmith Rauni Higson
Seeing myself and my business as a creative practice first – and then learning how to do better business – feels fun, encouraging, possible. Very different from the kind of business advice and support that I’ve encountered from other agencies, which seem to encourage striving and competing. Thank you.Sam Guise – YourStoryMyWords
Thanks for being a calm presence in the webinars. I find that your voice, tone and approach works well for me. Sometimes a voice can be off-putting, so just wanted to let you know that yours is the very opposite!Jeweller Maria Lau
Brilliant session! I’ve used Pinterest forever as an art and design teacher, but never for my business. This is something I am going to start today. Really useful information!ceramicist Louise Condon
Patricia van den Akker – director of the design trust
Patricia is an award-winning creative business adviser and coach.
With over 25 years of experience of teaching and advising creatives, she knows just about everything there is to know about how to start and grow a small craft or design business. But her love for learning is still as strong as ever, so she still reads about one new business or marketing book a week (ideally in bed!) and often joins more classes too.
She is still as inquisitive and passionate about inspiring others to create their own unique businesses, and to find their voice and dream clients in the world, as she was when she started all those years ago!
She’s is an expert in explaining complex and strategic business concepts into realistic and do-able activities for creatives.
She connects the dots between your unique talents and the work you create on the one hand, with your dream clients and positioning through your marketing and prices on the other. While adding your confidence levels, motivations and financial goals too in the mix!
If you’re looking for someone with a passionate, no-nonsense attitude to get you back on track, look no further.
anne-marie Shepherd – Business Club & Social media manager
Anne-Marie believes that without the beautiful, different and unique ideas and objects that artists create, the world would be a duller, sadder place.
Having spent 10 years helping to organise and promote the Made London and Made Brighton design and craft fairs, she’s seen first-hand what separates successful creative businesses from the rest.
As the face of The Design Trust on social media, Anne-Marie answers questions, shares useful information and highlights the best of our creative community.
She also is responsible for The Design Trust Business Club, which she feels is ‘a no-brainer’ for anyone looking to get honest and inspiring business knowledge from creatives and experts that really know their onions.