Learning about becoming a self-employed writer

Shona was a recent graduate undertaking small pieces of work related to training when she enrolled upon the JIIC’s Equal programme.  She had completed a fine art degree before studying for an HND in Jewellery and Silversmithing at the University of Central England.  Although Shona had exhibited work independently, she had not experienced working for a creative company.

The motivation for applying to join the Equal programme for Shona was to gain valuable industry experience, to prove her skills, and to obtain an insight into a creative company.  She was extremely pleased to learn that she had secured a place on the scheme.

Whilst working on the programme, Shona learnt a lot about the process of design whilst taking into consideration commercial viability – a skill she continues to use today.  Her placement enabled her to work within a company and gave her a place within the team, allowing her to gain an insight into the structure of the company and the role each person played.  Shona also learned valuable lessons in manufacturing jewellery and hitting price points – something that only comes with experience and that experience was gained whilst undertaking the work placement.

These benefits have proved really important to Shona as she is now self-employed and using a lot of the lessons learnt on the placement everyday in her own business.  The support Shona received included one-to-one help and advice from the people working for the company, such as guidance on pricing, manufacturing, choice of stone and commercial viability.  The new skills that Shona developed during the placement included designing within a budget, deadline and with an awareness of the target market; time keeping and management; and team work.  Shona continues to interact with the company she was placed with, which still plays a large part in her own business activities.

The programme allowed Shona to gain this experience whilst still earning a wage, which meant that she could concentrate solely on the placement.  It gave Shona the ability to apply for other jobs with confidence, and to undertake work on a self-employed basis.  Currently, Shona works as a self-employed Silversmith and Designer.  She is making small amounts of money from her work, however as her business is constantly growing, she intends for it to maintain itself financially within the next year.  Shona is also now working as a visiting Lecturer at Birmingham School of Jewellery where she teaches subjects such as Design Development.

Shona describes the best thing about the programme as learning from people who work within the creative sector in a hands-on environment, where she became part of the team.  She feels that programmes such as this offer people a chance to get their foot in the door within the creative industries, where experience is seen as a valuable commodity but is often hard to obtain due to the competitive nature of the industry.



Joining a network of diverse, dynamic and talented writers



Building a business out of product production



New business insights means growth for a creative business



Industry exposure gets a single aired on Kerrang radio



A life changing experience and huge achievements