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Ultimate Creative Freelancer Kelly Thompson On Finding Your Place In The Industry, On TDF Talks


Kelly Thompson has done it all – from fashion photography and artist management to commercial illustration and keynote event speaking, she’s been running her one-woman small business for pretty much her entire creative career.

But in the last year, Kelly has settled into a part of the industry that really feels like home. Her online store of handcrafted treasures, Makers’ Mrkt, has grown from a small but productive online store to a fully fledged marketplace in the last twelve months. Setting up a small biz in the middle of a pandemic turned out to be a blessing in disguise!

In this episode of TDF Talks, Kelly talks to managing editor Sally Tabart about levelling up, knowing when to change direction, and finding her feet in a sometimes cut-throat game. She’s the best!

1st October, 2021

Some of Makers’ Mrkt’s featured makers, which Kelly photographs herself! Photo – Kelly Thompson.

Kelly at her home in Heidelberg Heights which until recently doubled as her office! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Despite rapid growth and popularity, Makers’ Mrkt is still a one-woman-show where Kelly manages all the shop, customer and maker admin. But not for long! She’s on the hunt for staff. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Sasha Gattermayr
Friday 1st October 2021

Kelly Thompson’s has had a rich and multifaceted creative career – and every part of it has contributed to where she is now.

At the helm of her online store, Makers’ Mrkt, Kelly utilises her early career photography knowledge to chronicle campaigns, design skills from her days as a freelance illustrator to control the visual identity of the brand and project management training from her years as both a producer and an artist at Jacky Winter to manage the logistics side of the biz. She even got her seed money for the venture by siphoning payments for freelance illustration work or sponsored Instagram posts into buying stock!

Makers’ Mrkt has grown exponentially over the last year, which Kelly credits to the brakes the pandemic put on the usual speed of the world. With nothing coming in from many of her other professional outlets, Kelly finally had the time and focus to dedicate solely to the business – and it has grown rapidly as a result. To the point where she’s now opening a physical space!

This success is obviously also due to Kelly’s brilliant eye for new and emerging makers, and entrepreneurial spirit. How does she do it?! We’ve got all the deets!

In this podcast conversation, Kelly talks to managing editor Sally Tabart about how she bridged the creative and commercial worlds to create a business that leads with empathy, respect and care.

Listen now!

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email