Designing For a Podcast by Karishma Kusurkar

We started a podcast(!)

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After going on and on about how much I love podcasts, I finally collaborated on the Small Town Big Dreams Podcast with comedian Graeme Watson (The Infinite Jest) and Christine James (Blick Shared Studios) and you can now listen to Episodes 1-4 here.  



Our origins story

The idea for Small Town Big Dreams came to us at the start of last year when we met up in Clements Coffee near Queen's University and our collective love for The School of Life and related subjects. We chatted about how we wanted to create a different kind of business podcast - more informal, real and creative. We felt that the uniqueness of each business' origins story and the advice they could give was worth recording and so we set out to plan and research the project.  You can read more about this on the Small Town Big Dreams blog.

With support from Creativity NI through Department for Communities, we were able to get the podcast off the ground in March 2018 and also did a live podcast at The Black Box Belfast interviewing Kyle Gawley from Get Invited & Get Started, Vicky Potts from Whitepot Studios and Simon & Lorna Mills from TACA

  In between takes at our live podcast

In between takes at our live podcast

The whole process has been a really interesting learning curve - learning how to make a podcast, how different interviewees respond to questions and how to interview together as a team. Graeme has done a fantastic job mixing and editing the sound as well which is a lot of work in itself! Listening to Episodes 1-4, you can definitely hear some of our creative influences, to me the styling is a bit like Gimlet Media and the feel of it is like This American Life (in terms of its documentary style). We are getting better at it each recording (or so we hope!) and are planning to continue Series 1 this year and record further episodes.

A variety show

Interviews 1-4 are with musician Tony Wright of VerseChorusVerse, writer and film director Aislinn Clarke, video game developers Billygoat Entertainment (well William Barr, Paul Kelly was there but silent!) and ceramicist Wendy Ward of Wendy Ward Design.   We set out to interview a wide range of people and companies big and small. One of our aims was to highlight that people start businesses for a wide variety of reasons and that their paths to getting there are all different too.  

Artwork and designing of

Developing our design ideas and artwork

Episode artwork

We felt that the podcast needed to be backed by interesting imagery, photography and behind-the-scenes elements. This was particularly important when telling someone like Wendy Ward's story. We were delighted when she went to the effort of actually creating her ceramic products which was amazing to watch and film.  We also wanted to take pictures, film and record in a variety of locations - in people's studios, in places they like hanging out and where they work.  We wanted to showcase creative Northern Ireland at its best.

We wanted the artwork to be different to what was currently out there in business podcasts. We wanted a more creative feel to it all and were inspired by Wes Anderson when coming up with the colours and styling of the logo and artwork. Each of the individual illustrations in the podcast will gather together at the end of Series 1 to form the first "town" of creative entrepreneurs, so watch this space to see what that looks like.

Mental Health & Design

I feel that this needs a post of its own but this rarely discussed subject was a topic that came up in so many people's interviews that it deserves a mention.  The often long hours, lack of network or support and uncertainty of business can take its toll on many creatives' mental health.  People are afraid to speak up about it lest it affect their careers or how they are perceived. The discussion of this topics was also appreciated by members of the live podcast audience, so we will try and expand on it!

In the meantime, dive in to an episode here and comment and tell us what you think! I love the Soundcloud feature of commenting at specific points, so if you feel like it, definitely do that.

A list of superb women creatives in NI by Karishma Kusurkar

I could talk endlessly of the amazing women creatives that inspire me but what better way to celebrate International Women's Day than to direct you straight to them so you can learn more about them and maybe even find a new product or company that you love or a collective you can connect with.  These are some great companies, brands and projects founded or co-founded by women.  I've created various sections to support different sectors I am particularly interested in, but it's not to say that this can become a much longer and more diverse collaborative list (possible project for The Design Salon?) so if you have more to add, do add them in the comments below.  


 Image: Best Buds Belfast

Image: Best Buds Belfast

 Image: Sharon Ross

Image: Sharon Ross

 Image: Art Route Collective

Image: Art Route Collective

 Image: The Edible Flower at Assembly Gatherings

Image: The Edible Flower at Assembly Gatherings

 Image: Design Her

Image: Design Her

 Image: Creating A Space

Image: Creating A Space

We Are Now

Creating A Space 


I'm kicking off my morning taking part in a special event for Global Shapers x International Women's Day in aid of Women's Aid NI. Find out more about them and how you can support their cause here

10 Tips for Design Startups by Karishma Kusurkar


I'm no longer a startup but these are a few things I have learned along the way that might help you if you are just starting out in your business. Things that I've done myself and others I wish I had done or known! 

1. Pick your best idea --- If like me you have a lot of ideas and projects going on, keep the rest simmering in the background and pick one to push and get made (otherwise things will remain in that ideation stage for an infinite time!).

2. Ask the experts --- If some element of the project you are working on is new to you or not in your area of expertise, don't be afraid to reach out for help and ask those that are in the know.

3. But don't be afraid of picking up new skills yourself --- Don't be afraid to invent something new and to combine an area you know well with something new that you have to learn about.

4. You really really really don't have to wear a suit (or a power necklace)

5. Get organised --- Whatever system works for you. In our co-working space some people work purely on organisation apps and others on a big sheet of paper

6. Support others --- Make sure you check out and support other startup businesses in what they are doing, it'll help you become part of a community but also know people who are in the same position as you

7. Stay healthy mentally and physically --- Running your own business is a totally different experience to working for someone and your day may continue endlessly and a lot of times your health will be the last thing on your mind but make sure it isn't!

8. Create boundaries --- Decide specific times you'll be on email / social media etc. as a lot of your creative / making time can end up being spent on these things.

9. Seek out opportunities --- Opportunities don't grow on trees but there are quite a few out there if you look for them. 

10. Never stop learning --- It's tempting once you've graduated or learned the skills you need to start your design career to stop there. The reality is that technology is fast paced and constantly changing and you'll need to upskill regularly to stay on top of your game. It also helps to absorb other skills such as learning about business basics such as book-keeping, organisation, networking etc.




Small Town Big Dreams by Karishma Kusurkar


I'm excited to be working on a new podcast alongside comedian Graeme Watson and Blick Shared Studios. We are all big fans and listeners of podcasts, I've shared some of my faves previously but my current go-to podcast list is Design MattersGimlet Media's The Nod, The Guilty Feminist, Racist Sandwich and Reply All - a mix of design, humour, internet, society and culture.

We will be launching a blog next month which I will post about here but to give you a flavour of what to expect from the podcast, it is a celebration of creative entrepreneurs from small towns and places doing well. We are focusing on Northern Irish folk in this series and exploring stories, challenges and advice for could-be entrepreneurs. We hope it will be really inspirational and are looking forward to recording in the coming weeks. We will be launching it all with a live podcast event as part of Creativity Month on 27th March - an interactive audience and panel discussion at The Black Box Belfast. Do join us if you're in town!

Espionage Video Rules by Karishma Kusurkar

They are finally here!

Let me know what you think. My aim is to do a series showing various play-throughs of the game over the coming weeks and months.   Video is always a slightly awkward and cringe-worthy thing for me, so bear with me as I navigate my way through making them!  A big thanks to Peter who filmed this on his video camera, any element of professionalism is his and any awkwardness with edits is mine. Peter makes awesome knife-making videos which now have a million views.  Any further vids will also go up on my channel, so look out for those!