AAS provide professional makers – whether starting out, mid-career or established – plus those with an ambition to establish a making practice with a foundation of professional development support to maintain, review, grow and ultimately sustain and lead their craft businesses. In turn, this contributes to building strong and resilient craft sectors, something that is fundamental to AAS’s work in Scotland and internationally. 

In 2018, AAS were contracted by the British Council Thailand as part of the wider Crafting Futures Programme to develop a digital craft toolkit to help to expand crafting business learning opportunities through online platforms for Thai artists, designers, entrepreneurs or anyone else interested in crafts. The toolkit was required to:

  • be free to access
  • provide all content in Thai and English
  • cover a variety of topics such as setting business goals, overall business planning, creating design concepts, developing products, sales and marketing, as well as budget management
  • be accessible on multiple devices
  • have all content licenced under Creative Commons

Development was in two phases:

  1. content development and website construction, March 2018 – July 2019
  2. a series of four introductory workshop and user testing in Bangkok, August 2019 

For AAS, the digital craft toolkit aligned with our Making Sustainable Livelihoods strategy, specifically: sustainable practice, capacity building, training and education, digital delivery and building community.

Craft Toolkit 

CraftToolkit, welcome screen

Development process:

  • determine the digital format of the toolkit, a website / mobile web app
  • design the user interface, layout and style
  • develop the content into interactive exercises and games 
  • understand and plot the user journey through the toolkit

Fundamental to AAS’s creation of the toolkit was the cross-cultural exchange of expertise, experience, knowledge and skills between makers living and working in the UK and Thailand; a collaborative approach AAS adopts and continues to develop in our role to provide support ‘by makers, for makers’.

For the toolkit AAS commissioned 10 Scottish and 10 Thai makers, designers and craftspeople to share stories of their creative and business set up, development of their business and how they grow and sustain it through short films, images and audio recorded on their smartphones, supported by transcribed quotes.

Briefs provided filming and audio recording prompts and questions, supported by the ‘Telling Your Story – A Guide to Creating Your Film’ written by film editor Simon Mills to support makers to confidently create content on their own that importantly, was consistent across all contributors. Simon edited a series of short films for the toolkit’s exercises, bringing them to life by illustrating elements of the toolkit users work through, providing them with accessible content they can relate to and importantly return to. 

The Craft Toolkit has four modules, each with interactive exercises:

  1. The Bigger Picture
    o   Goal Setting
    o   Relationship Mapping

2.Planning the Details
o   Product and Service Development
o   Creative Inspiration
o   Development Checklist

3. Selling and Marketing
o   Creating Customers
o   Telling a Story
o   Ways of Selling

4. Managing Money
o   Costing and Pricing
o   Cashflow

CraftToolkit dashboard

Exercises within modules are progressive, with users able to save as they go, and access a summary of key module outcomes in their individual user account. Each exercise is introduced via a scene setting film of Scottish and Thai makers exploring relevant topics within their business and followed by prompted interactive steps in which users are required to input information about their business (e.g. who they work with, activities in their business calendar, finances) both as it is and as they would like it to be.

CraftToolkit, ‘Create Your Customers’ exercise

As they progress, users create their own to-do list, also available in their individual user account. At the conclusion of each module, the user is prompted with further questions about how they can address development within their business.

CraftToolkit, prompt questions at end of ‘Goal Setting’ exercise

Further resources, currently intended for users based in Scotland and Thailand, are provided in support of modules, enabling users access to further support to address their business issues and develop an action plan.

Craft Toolkit can be accessed on a smartphone, tablet or laptop / desktop computer. Users can access the toolkit free of charge by registering for an individual user account with their name and a valid email address. Craft Toolkit is licenced under Creative Commons.

Content is currently available in Thai and English. The website was built to enable translation of content into further languages appropriate to use of the Craft Toolkit in other territories, primarily through the Crafting Futures programme. AAS have proposed development of a ‘without words’ version of the toolkit, supported by downloadable documents to enable its use in multiple countries and circumstances, such as conflict zones.

AAS is now introducing and implementing the Craft Toolkit in Scotland. At this time, it is proposed individuals’ remote, online access of the toolkit’s content, modules and exercises will be complemented by online and offline (Scottish Government Guidelines permitting) activity for individuals and groups, e.g. one-to-one sessions and group peer discussion events.

CraftToolkit workshop Bangkok, Thailand in August 2019, organised by the British Council Thailand and supported by the Pentland Group, photographer Helen Voce