Your Guide

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Patricia van den Akker

Patricia van den Akker is the Director of The Design Trust, and a creative business adviser, trainer & coach. She is known for asking thought-provoking questions, using creative exercises, connecting the dots and inspiring you to get into action to turn your ideas into reality. Are you ready? @TheDesignTrust

Questions? Comments? Email me!

About this course

Make a Difference

An online festival featuring fabulously inspiring creative women with purpose

Is this Lockdown getting you down a bit? Do you require a boost of inspiration, creativity and energy?

Watching too many Zoom sessions that are just boring or frustrating?

Are you getting angry or frustrated with all the bad stuff in the world, the politics, the environment, inequality? Instead of getting more cross with yourself ... do you want to make a more positive contribution to the world - using your creative skills?

Us too!

So, we thought it was time to get inspired again with a fresh dose of positive & creative energy.

By featuring creatives who are on a mission to make the world a better, kinder or more sustainable and beautiful place!

The Design Trust is run as a social enterprise and we are not just interested in the professional development of creatives but also in those social, cultural, political and environmental issues and how creatives can truly contribute and be valuable to these bigger conversations. 

How we (as creatives especially): 

  • can use our voices and creativity to raise questions and challenge opinions, 
  • build bridges within communities and across cultures, 
  • visualise what it means to be a complex human being and dare to show up as one yourself, 
  • contribute creative solutions to these small and big challenges, 
  • all with the ultimate aim to create a better, more sustainable (both economically and ecologically!) and more beautiful world - for us and for future generations.

Oh yes, we love to aim big and bold here!

Patricia van den Akker, the Director of The Design Trust, is known for asking questions, both big and small, daring her creative clients to dream and think BIGGER, but also to get realistic with practical steps and solutions. She pushes creatives gently out of their comfort zone to explore what else is possible, to encourage them to think for themselves, and find their own paths and answers when creating their creative businesses and careers.

We are super excited to be launching our very first online festival: 

MAKE A DIFFERENCE: An online festival with creative women with a purpose

We have invited some of our own creative role models to share with us WHAT they really do, WHY they do what they do, and HOW they do that.

To talk and share their big ideas, but also what drives them, and what it takes to actually make that happen.

Following the concept and framework of Simon Sinek’s ‘Starting with Why’ book

  • We will look at their bigger vision and dream, how they found their purpose and who or what made them who they are today. 
  • We will dig deeper into their values and motivations, and why they do what they do. 
  • We will go into the detail of how they have evolved their voices into businesses, organisations or campaigns (often over a long period), the choices and decisions they had to make along the way and what makes them different and successful.

We want to have honest conversations on what it takes to turn your big ideas into the day-to-day reality. We want to inspire other creatives to dream and aim bigger, and use their own creativity to create something to make this world a better, nicer more beautiful world.

Throughout May we will be hosting a series of inspiring and action-orientated online interviews with creative women and you can join each session to ask them questions live, or watch the recording later on our private online website where we will encourage you too to take action to dream bigger and create a creative business with purpose!

Emily Jo Gibbs, textile artist ‘The Value of Making’ – Wednesday 6 May 2-3pm (UK)

Emily Jo Gibbs is an artist who over the last two decades has established an international reputation with her exquisite work. She creates hand-stitched textiles with a delicate graphic quality, observing the quiet beauty of the overlooked. Gently advocating The Value of Making by creating work that celebrates the skill, dexterity and the creative problem solving of people who make things.

Patricia will be talking with Emily Jo about what she really does and the value of making, why she works in textiles (and her previous life as a fabulous handbag designer) and how she does it.

Janine Vangool, Editor Uppercase Magazine – Thursday 7 May 2-3pm (UK)

Janine Vangool is the publisher, editor and designer of UPPERCASE, a quarterly print magazine for the creative and curious. Her magazine and books celebrate the process of making, the commitment to craft and the art of living creatively.

She has a particular fondness for vintage things, a passion that has inspired a book about typewriters and an entire UPPERCASE Encyclopedia of Inspiration, a book series on a variety of topics with volume C: Ceramics and volume Y: Yarn-Thread-String to be released this year. She has also designed fabric collections with Windham Fabrics, with the fourth collection available next year.

She is often asked, “Do you ever sleep?” To which she replies, “Yes! By the end of the day, I’m exhausted!” She lives in Calgary, Canada with her husband Glen (Wheelhouse Games) and their curious 10-year-old son.

Patricia will be talking with Janine what she really does as a truly independent publisher, designer, editor and international community builder, her values and motivations, her journey, and how she keeps being so creative.

Sarah Corbett, Founder of the Craftivist Collective – Monday 11 May 2-3pm (UK)

Sarah Corbett is the Founder of the global Craftivist Collective providing craftivism (craft + activism) products and services for individuals, groups and organisations to deliver effective craftivism using her unique ‘gentle protest’ methodology. It’s all about delivering activism in a beautiful, kind and quiet way that creates real long-term positive change.

Sounds counter intuitive yet the Craftivist Collective’s campaigns have helped change government laws, business policies as well as hearts and minds. She is an award-winning activist, author and Ashoka Fellow. Her book “How To Be A Craftivist: the art of gentle protest” is now available in paperback.

Patricia will be talking with Sarah about what she really does, her personal values and motivations, how she makes change happen as a one-woman band managing a largish voluntary organisation, the often difficult and ethical questions she asks (herself, her group, her audiences and corporate clients too!) and how she looks after herself and creates a sustainable educational charity.  

Tara McMullin (Tara Gentile), Founder of What Works –  moved to Friday 15 May 2-3pm (UK)

Tara is a podcaster, small business community leader, and speaker. She’s been helping small business owners find what works for them for over a decade. Her goal is to push past the hype and facilitate candid conversations about doing business in the New Economy. She's the founder of What Works and co-founder of YellowHouse.Media.

Patricia will be talking with Tara about her journey in the last decade as one of the most successful and recognisable female online entrepreneurs, the changes and decisions she has made over the years, what ultimately drives her, how she shows up, and how she specifically creates and grows very successful online businesses (she runs an online network and popular podcast called ‘What Works’ after all!).  

Ella Doran, designer – Tuesday 19 May 2-3pm (UK)

Ella initially made her name when she created her own homewares business in the late 1990s, quickly winning fans and plaudits for her pioneering application of photography-based images and patterns onto functional, household products.

Ella has been commissioned by or has collaborated with a prestigious roll call of British and international brands, retailers, institutions and manufacturers, as well as a number of fashion and product designers, including Paloma Picasso, Tate, The Royal Society of Arts, The Royal London Hospital, John Lewis, and Portmeirion.

She is invited to speak regularly on design, innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability and the circular economy at leading design-world events, including for The Sorrell Foundation, The RSA and Clerkenwell Design Week.

Patricia will be talking with Ella about what she does and her journey as a well-known designer over the last 3 decades, how her motivations and values have changed over time, and the choices and decisions she makes as a designer concerned with the environment and the life time of lifestyle products.

Lucy Grainge, visual artist & designer – Thursday 21 May 2-3pm (UK)

Lucy  has a BA (hons) in Communication Design from the Glasgow School of Art, and is currently based in Glasgow. Her work is often community-based and research-led, visually characterised by a strong use of colour, shape and pattern. 

Lucy is also a workshop facilitator, delivering a variety of creative subject matter including ‘Creative Dyslexia’ workshops and recently risograph workshops. She has had solo exhibitions in Edinburgh and Lincolnshire, and exhibited artwork in Manchester, Glasgow and London. She is co-founder of Psyche, an award winning mental health and socio-politics magazine.

Patricia will be talking with Lucy about the challenges and opportunities her dyslexia have created for her to launch her career, what she really does as a creative in all her different roles, how she uses her graphic design skills to create print magazines and books with a strong social and health purpose, her values and motivations and how she makes it work. 

Sarah Hamilton, artist, designer & Founder of the Just A Card campaign – Thursday 28 May 2-3pm (UK)

Sarah Hamilton is a London based artist and designer. She began her career designing and making stationery and homewares for High Street stores including Heals, The Conran Shop and Paperchase, and many independent shops and galleries. Their success enabled her to return to her first loves - printmaking, painting and drawing, and she now has a busy studio focusing on private commissions and exhibitions. Sarah’s work is often featured in the press and in books, and her own craft/design book House of Cards was an international bestseller. 

Sarah is a vocal advocate of the creative/independent community and, five years ago, foundered the JUST A CARD campaign, which aims to encourage people to support, value and buy from artists, makers, independent shops and small businesses.

Patricia will be talking with Sarah about WHAT she does, as both a creative and campaigner, and how her career has developed over time. WHY she does what she does - her values and motivations of her work and campaigning for independent sales and working in collaboration. And HOW she does it, how she manages her time and energy for her life, business and campaigning. How she makes money through different income streams, including sales, commissions, licensing and books. How her strengths and talents have helped her over time. How she encourages partnerships. How she promotes and talks. How she manages a small team of volunteers. And how she sees the future for small independents.

Annette Marie Townsend, natural history artist – moved to Friday 29 May 2-3pm (UK)

Annette Marie Townsend is a natural history artist exploring nature and the theme of protection, working at the intersection between art, craft and science to highlight issues that threaten the natural world.

From her urban garden studio in Cardiff, she creates beautiful and detailed conceptual pieces through a variety of different media but she is best known for her super-realistic botanical sculptures of wildflowers, which are handmade using traditional Victorian wax modelling techniques. Her work is both decorative and scientific, inspired by stories of scientific discovery and her own 20 year career working with natural science collections in a museum context.

Patricia will be talking with Annette Marie about what she really does based on her unique background in science, museum conservation, craft and art. Her motivations and values as an artist and raising questions around pollution and the threats to our natural world. And how she makes a living and uses her talents to tell her story and engages her public.  

Can't make these days or times? No problem!

This is an ONLINE festival and we will be recording each interview and post it together with further discussion points on our private online festival website.

So, if you are busy with other jobs and responsibilities, or live in a time zone outside of Europe, then no problem! You can watch each of these sessions whenever you like, as often as you like, on our private online website hub till the end of 2020.

How does this inspiring online festival work?

Oh yes, this is our very first online festival that we are organising, so we aren't surprised that you are wondering what this will be like!

When you register and pay above (red button on the top) you will get immediate access to our private online hub, where you will find all the information about the festival. The software we use is called Ruzuku, and you can introduce yourself, ask questions in the forum and connect with our other festival go-ers.

We will show you how to sign up for each of the individual interviews on Zoom. When you have registered you will get a confirmation email and a reminder, and you join us from your own home computer by clicking on the link to join us live for these interviews. You will be able to see the guest speaker and Patricia, but no worries nobody will see or hear you. You can ask your own questions to the speakers via a text box.

Each interview session will be recorded and you can watch it on our private online website whenever you like. You can ask additional questions or contribute to the conversations online.

We will also  add additional videos and discussions around WHAT do you really do, WHY do you do what you do, and HOW do you do it, so that you can dig a little deeper into your own purpose and values too, and share the actions that YOU are taking (as a direct result of this online festival?) to make the world a nicer, better and more beautiful world!

Why are we organising this online festival around purpose & creativity?

Firstly because we want to be inspired ourselves! We need a little boost of energy and inspiration too, and what better way to do that then inviting a bunch of brilliant women?

Secondly, we strongly believe that creatives have a major role to play in making the world a better place. The Design Trust is run as a social enterprise and as human beings we are very passionate about social, political, economical and cultural challenges and empowering others to get involved too in these conversations and solutions. 

Many creatives undervalue what they do (and we often address this in our online workshops!) but we believe that creatives are there to ask questions and start conversations, to visualise what others can't see yet, to come up with more innovative solutions. We have got a lot more to contribute, but we need to communicate that all much better to the world at large in a positive way. 

And thirdly, we know from our own experience that if you want to be 'happier' then the best way to achieve that is to use your unique talents to serve others. Turn what you are really good at into something that helps others and you will be more fulfilled both in the short and long term (check all the Positive Psychology research around fulfillment if you don't believe me ...)  

Right now many of us are feeling lost and have lost their motivation. Focusing on what that bigger and brighter future looks like for you and others can help to get your moyo back. And making the time to reflect on your true motivations and your values (your 'why') and starting to create a life and business in line with your values and purpose is bound to make you happier and fulfilled too. 

Who is this online festival for?

We created this first online festival for creatives (both women and men!) who want to get inspired and connect with bigger ideas, missions and purposes. Fellow human beings who want to improve the world in the big sense, or want to tackle smaller topics closer to home. But you do want to use your creative skills for something bigger than just you!

You want to get inspired by other creatives who are using their creative skills (in the broadest sense of the word) for social, ecological or political purposes.

You want to get a unique behind-the-scenes look and insight into what other creatives do, how they really do it, and how they are creating their businesses, organisations and campaigns (and yes these are all ‘works-in-progress’!). Their journeys. Their moments with lack of confidence and worries. Their successes and achievements. To inspire you to take positive steps too.

The Design Trust is since 2011 an online business school for designers, makers and other creative professionals. We provide regularly online business training on topics such as costing & pricing, goal setting and business planning, marketing, social media and selling online. But, we do work as a social enterprise and our core mission is to create a business you are proud of.

Who hosts this online festival?

Patricia van den Akker is the Director of The Design Trust. She has been a creative business adviser, trainer and coach for creative businesses for more than 20 years and has worked with 1,000s of creative businesses at any stage of their career.

In 2018 she was voted the Number One Business Adviser in Branding & Design by Enterprise Nation and our clients, and in 2019 she was voted the Number One Business Adviser in the UK in Sales.

She has worked both in the non-profit cultural sector for many years as well as the private sector.

Patricia regularly talks and writes about creative business development, including The Design Trust website and as a guest blogger for Etsy, Folksy and other organisations. For 5 years she wrote The Design Doctor business column for Crafts Magazine, published by the Crafts Council. She works with many craft fair and trade fair organisations across the UK, and teaches at many art schools and colleges, including the Royal College of Art, University of the Arts London/Central St Martins, and many professional development organisations and studio providers such as Space London, Cockpit Arts and Yorkshire Art Space.  

Your online festival ticket

We really want to make this online festival as affordable as possible! 

Get yourself a nice drink and food (a tent and sleeping bag are optional) and join us for each of these interview sessions for an extra boost of inspiration in your own home.

To join our online festival you only pay £29 (incl. VAT). That includes access to ALL interview sessions + recordings + our online private hub where you can network with other festival go-ers. 

Just click the red ‘registration’ button at the top and you will get immediate access to our online private website where you can sign up already for some of the interview sessions. Note that more guest speakers will be announced shortly!

Our Business Club members get this online festival for FREE (if you join in May)! 

And as our Business Club membership is only £25/month this is a super bargain … Join our Business Club here today, then get the promo code and book your own free online festival ticket.Join more than 200 other ambitious creatives too who have access to more than 100+ online workshops, masterclasses and podcasts with a wide range of creative experts including social media and marketing experts, gallery owners and trade buyers, journalists and accountants, and successful creatives. There is a monthly payment, but there is no contract and you can stop your membership any time you like.  


What if I can't make it on these days or times?

This is an online festival, and all interviews will be recorded. So if you are unable to join us live that's not a problem at all. You will have access to this online festival and all the recordings and online discussions till the end of 2020, so you can join in whenever you like.

What equipment do I need?

You will need access to a computer (ideally PC or Mac, laptop) with reliable broadband to access the live interviews. You will not be visible or audible, and you don't need a headset or microphone.

Times are hard ... any discounts?

This is a super bargain ticket price … and normally one of these interviews would probably be charged out at this price. We are aiming to interview 10 - 12 different women so £29 in total is really a super great price. 

Imagine the inspiration you will get from it ... even if you just listen to one or two of them!

But our Business Club members do get this online festival for FREE … so you can join our Business Club too, grab the promo code, and also have access to the 100+ online recordings with professional development advice there too!

What if I want to join this festival with more people?

Purchasing a ticket will allow you only personal access. None of the interviews should be shared with others who haven't paid or to share with others in any form. Like you we are a small creative business and I know that you wouldn't like it either if others would steal your copyright and share your ideas or content illegally.

If you would like to bulk buy more than 5 tickets then get in touch with us on as we can offer you a bulk discount.

Got any more questions?

Then drop us an email at We are happy to help you.