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Start up incubator for creative artists: The Refinery 4.0

Michelle Carter standing while talking to artists seated at a large table
Creative Business Model Canvas workshop at the Refinery 4.0 on the Sunshine Coast

This post has been a long time coming, in April this year I delivered my 4th annual workshop as part of 'The Refinery' a business start-up program for creatives based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. It is one of my most favourite 'gigs' and it has been wonderful to see the program and the creatives grow year after year. This got me thinking......"what makes The Refinery so special?"

The diversity of voices in the room.

Participants are from a broad range creative disciplines and backgrounds. Some have been 'in the game' for a while and are testing new ideas and others are just starting out. I really enjoy getting to know the creatives and their practice. Dr Sue Davis from Wild Flower Women joined the Refinery to ‘level up’ her passions; bushwalking, native flowers and visual art, while Evelyn Marina kick started her visual arts career after completing formal training in design.

Dr Sue Davis founder of Wild Flower Women, in her element where her passions collide.

The passion of the creatives.

Speaking of passion, this energises me and I love that I can help the creatives see the value of their passion. There must be something in the water on the Sunny Coast there’s so much passion and inspiration! Ketakii Jewson-Brown and Shaye from Little House Seamstress are two passion led creative’s, that while having separate and diverse practices, often collaborate and together they are a creative, joyous force. Check out one such collab The Sunshine Coat here:

Joyous collabs: Little House Seamstress and Ketakii Jeswon Brown (Image: @ketakii_darling)

The 'resolution'.

Every good story has a resolving moment, right? The Refinery finishes its program with a showcase event where each participant pitches their somewhat resolved business idea to a live audience. Part Ted talk, part networking event and part celebration, it really gives me the closure I need after working with the creatives in the ideation phase of their business. Having been with The Refinery from its first version, it really is rewarding to follow the creative business journeys of the participants year after year. Wildlings Forest School was part of the first Refinery cohort, over the years they have gone from strength to strength, recently winning the Sunshine Coast Business Awards | Large Business in Education & Training and adding a podcast ‘Raising Wildlings’ to their offering since the first Refinery.

There are so many other benefits of The Refinery, too many for this conversation. Maybe I’ll write another post about elements of awesome creative incubators, I’ll put it on the never-ending blog post list! In the mean time you can check out The Refinery here: and if you're interested in attending the Showcase event it's on Tuesday 5th July get your tickets here:

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