Coming up on this blog by Karishma Kusurkar

I took some time last week to specifically revisit my business and look at what direction I wanted to move it in, how to grow it now that it is no longer in the startup phase and also about what me as well as those connecting with me really want. 

As part of this restructuring, I went through my blog content.  I want to make this blog more useful to its readership which means more content around design, entrepreneurship and work-life balance with any project news included at the end of each post. I hope this will give it a bit more structure and consistency and will try this over the coming months.  I would also love to add more of my own photographs and artwork as a visual narrative.  The Design Week article seemed to be of particular interest to people that have read this blog and so I might include some more how-tos / strategies and tips of things I have done / experienced.  

If you'd like to hear about any specific topics, send me an email at and I'll see what I can do! 


To kick off the updates, this is a REALLY BIG UPDATE to give an overview of what I am working on.

I work on several projects at once and often in different areas.  Some require long development phases whereas others are completed over a short period of time. The way I can work on them all is that they all have different deadlines for release and that they are all at different stages in the pipeline.  Is it challenging? Yes. 

These are some the projects and products I am currently working on:

Small Town Big Dreams (Podcast) - We were at Digital DNA this week recording interviews at the Startacus startup area and the live podcast will be out soon. Our first 6 episodes and live recording from The Black Box are available to listen now here and on all good podcasting apps, Soundcloud and iTunes. We are planning out Season 2 currently and looking at what worked well in our first.

Pick & Picks (Product)I sent out my first rough-cut prototypes to get some feedback from musicians.  It is still in research and development and I am looking at some new materials and shapes for the picks. I have also started thinking in terms of a wider product range for this project and some of the others.

A Tiny History (Cross-Platform Product, Podcast) - Kylie and I have started moving this project forward.  As well as researching content for this, I sent out interviews to people engaged with  the subject of each "tiny history" and have been happy and grateful to get some great folk on board for interviews.  This project is likely to be multi-platform.

Espionage: The Card Game (Product)This is now in Jack Straws Boardgame Cafe where you can play it and see what you think.  I've been a bit complacent in pushing it out over the past few months as I have had other urgent project work to complete but am revisiting the market placement for it and seeing where else it could go. 

One Square (Product) - Recently I had a lot of people asked me whether I was still working on One Square - the first collection stemming from my Masters project when I first started Karishma's World.  In Phase 1 I explored it more as a limited edition and bespoke product. I am revisiting in a second phase and it is set to be much simpler and more practical. 

Belfast Design Week (Event)We have been talking to lots of local agencies, people and supporters to plan this year's Design Week.  Our theme looks at Belfast through a new lens - through word of mouth, stories and subcultures. We also have some more events geared towards the general public and sharing knowledge about design.

The Design Salon (Collective) - We have our next meetup on Saturday with designer Terry Corr and it is a DIY picnic - hopefully outdoors! We will then be looking at and engaging the existing 326 members of it to see what they would find best / most useful in the future and plan out the next steps for it accordingly.

Shape Europe (Event) - This is a large scale conference by the Global Shapers' Belfast Hub which I am a part of. I am on the creative team for this looking at the full branding and design of the conference as well as hosting a workshop during it.

People Make Design (Social Entrepreneurship) , RainCo. (Product) & Game X (Product) are in their very early development phases, so once there is more to tell, I will post an update on these.

Designing For a Podcast by Karishma Kusurkar

We started a podcast(!)

STBD grey back-01.png

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!