Isla Cruickshank

Why did you want to take part in SHIFT? 

I completed my degree in Jewellery Design last year in amongst all the chaos of 2020. I always knew after my degree that I wanted to set up my own business and be self employed but I didn’t have any business training or knowledge on how to do this. At the point of finishing last year I wanted to soak up as much on the topic of business as possible. I had been trying to learn online and listen to various webinars but it was far from an organised approach to developing a business. So when I saw the email about SHIFT it ticked all the boxes and seemed like a point in the right direction. The week long duration meant it was going to be full on, but at that point I was half way into building my brand and I was keen to learn as much as possible and fast to then put it into practice with my evolving ideas. I also particularly liked that it was a business course for creatives projects and people. I am used to working in environments of creative thinkers and so being able to bounce ideas of other creatives is natural to me.  

How was SHIFT for you? 

I cannot stress enough, SHIFT was amazing (I think all my friends and family were sick of hearing about it!) As expected it was super intensive, but at the end of every single day I was amazed by how much I had learnt. It was challenging and at times uncomfortable but all of the little tasks pushed me to ask serious questions about the business I wanted to create. I was forced to really scrutinise my values and work out what I wanted to do beyond just a sales target and how all of these parts add up into one much larger overview. It also became apparent very quickly how much of a community there was. Each of us had a buddy for the end of each day and it made sure we were not only making new connections but having someone to discuss the days information. Some days were so full on that having that chance to unwind and discuss the days programme with someone else really helped piece together what you had to put into practice.  

What was the most useful part of SHIFT? 

The order of the SHIFT programme meant that each topic roled effectively into the next and allowed us to see clearly how each could be implemented into our projects in a way that wasn’t overwhelming. The whole programme was so well curated and that made the every element really easy to engage with. The talks on Tax with Peter Evans and Pricing with Michelle Cohen were big stand outs for me. It was practical information conveyed in a straight forward way and made me realise that most of what intimidated me before didn’t need to be that way at all. The electives were also brilliant opportunities to talk to people that were ahead of you in business and ask questions specific to your projects.  

What have you been doing since SHIFT ended?  Is there anything from SHIFT that you’ve taken forward? 

I launched my brand, &ILC, a conscious lifestyle brand selling statement jewellery in November. Since the launch I have been working on building exposure for the brand and creating a strong digital presence to compensate for the lack of physical events. I managed to attend a market in December, which was a good customer research opportunity and I am currently working in developing further into the lifestyle brand by adding a homeware range. SHIFT gave me the confidence at pricing my products and knowing the value in what I have to offer and this is embedded in my whole business. 

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