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The Design Trust – Dream Plan Do

By Kate Marsden

Just A Card Indie Week really has been a celebration of small creative business, and small creative businesses are what The Design Trust is all about! I’ve been a business club member myself for a few years now, and have also found their Dream Plan Do planner to be a fantastic resource for me and my business – and I know it’s helped a lot of people achieve some amazing things.

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So to round off Just A Card Indie Week in style, I’ve been chatting to Anne-Marie Shepherd at The Design Trust. Read on to find out more about the Trust (and make sure you stay until the end for an opportunity to save when you order the new 2019 edition of Dream Plan Do!).

Hi Anne-Marie, as you know I’m very familiar with The Design Trust, but could you please fill everyone else in on the Trust’s background and what it aims to do for creative business owners?

The Design Trust is an online business school for small creative businesses. Set up in 1994, its key function was and still remains today, to support designers, makers and artists who want to set up in business but lack the necessary commercial skills. Creatives are taught the trade; making, techniques, design, but when it comes to selling the work and effectively running a business, training and education is most often lacking.

The Design Trust, headed by Patricia van den Akker, seeks to offer business skills training for creative businesses via online learning, workshops and free resources through its website and social media channels.

The Design Trust is of course a huge supporter of independent businesses. Not only are they the backbone of our economy, but they help to make our lives richer by bringing us different and unique products and experiences. The Design Trust is proud to support Just a Card’s Indie Week in promoting and highlighting all the fantastic makers, designers, artists, shops and galleries enriching our lives with their talent.  We want these creative businesses to enjoy their best Christmas yet!

Patricia van den Akker

Patricia van den Akker

And what about Dream Plan Do? The book is now in it’s third edition and it’s great to see this growing each year.

Dream Plan Do is a planner written by Patricia in 2016. The book is based on Patricia’s 25+ years’ experience as a business adviser, trainer and coach to thousands of creatives, especially designers and makers.  Dream Plan Do was the result of Patricia seeing so many creative businesses struggle. Stepping out of a creative education or trying to turn a creative hobby into a business is extremely difficult with no business training. Making something beautiful is one thing, selling it to someone is a whole other story. Patricia saw that many makers lacked business knowledge as well as focus. They weren’t setting clear goals, nor were they working on their finances or marketing. They simply weren’t making enough money for all the hard work they were putting in to creating.

Patricia says, “What started as an idea in my head has become this wonderful ‘adventure’ book for so many creatives on this journey. I’m so proud of what creatives across the world have achieved because of Dream Plan Do! They’ve made fundamental changes in their lives and businesses, launched new collections and better websites. They have dared to approach new clients and dreamed bigger dreams. They have truly grown. On their own terms.”

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So, Dream Plan Do has been created specifically for makers, designers, artists and galleries. The planner contains practical planning tools and check lists with expert business advice to get creatives more focused and organised. Along with the associated wall chart and online VIP Club, Dream Plan Do helps small businesses feel less overwhelmed and frustrated, better organised and more supported. 

The online Dream Plan Do VIP club offers members bi monthly online training from Patricia in topics connected with the chapters of the book. It gives members the opportunity to learn not only from Patricia but also from other creatives, to ask questions, to chat, to feel part of something.

‘DPD VIP Club is the best value for money I have ever spent on my business. With just the planner, on my own, I know I would have fallen by the wayside (I know what I'm like!) instead I have had bi monthly support from Patricia who has been very generous with her time and information, in the form of webinars, one to ones and downloads. Coupled with an accountability partner (now friend), I am still here good and strong.’ Jayne Rozario

New for 2019, are accountability groups, spread over different cities in the UK. Monthly meetings for Dream Plan Do members. The chance to meet and talk about struggles, celebrate successes and discuss next steps.


Thank you so much for chatting to us Anne-Marie, I can’t wait to get my hands on my new copy – it’s always a good start to the year!

To find out more about Dream Plan Do and to buy the planner, wall chart and join the VIP Club visit https://www.dream-plan-do.com/shop but if you’d like an exclusive Just A Card discount you’ll need to join our mailing list and keep your eyes out for an email coming very soon!

Kate Marsden1 Comment