Turning old skateboards into jewellery - thanks social media

WHEN artists Ellie Beck and Sam Messina moved from Brisbane to the rainforest behind Murwillumbah four years ago their client base consisted of just a few market stall regulars.

With the clever use of social media, the pair has achieved their dream of turning Sam's recycled skateboard jewellery into a full time creative business, Deadwood Creative, with more than 20 shops now selling their jewellery.

Ms Beck will be sharing her story at an upcoming workshop - Survival Guide for Regional Creatives - developed by Arts Northern Rivers and creative industries consultant, Jill Moonie (former General Manager of Screenworks).

NEW FROM OLD: Local husband and wife team, Ellie Beck and Sam Messina, make jewellery out of recycled skateboards.
NEW FROM OLD: Local husband and wife team, Ellie Beck and Sam Messina, make jewellery out of recycled skateboards.

The workshop will cover what it takes to build a base for a creative career in the Northern Rivers, including how to network and build business relationships and how to develop a consistent message, with guest speaker Christine Willcocks and Ellie Beck.

Now with a strong national following, the key to Deadwood Creative's success has been building an online community, Ellie Beck said, including 11,000 followers on their Instagram account, @Petalplum.

"Our challenge was how to reach our customer demographic in Sydney and Melbourne from our rainforest home studio," Ms Beck said.

"We can't get to regular markets or trade shows in the cities to get our name out there, but we have found a lot of customers have found us through Instagram."

The couple used Instagram to develop their brand from scratch, working from home with their children including living without electricity for 18 months, all the while building their rainforest studio,

"We had no electricity, but we would charge our phones in the car so I could share our story on Instagram," Ms Beck said.

Making creative connections is crucial for success, she said.

"Creatively, (the Northern Rivers) is a strong supportive environment. It feels great to be surrounded by other creatives who understand the pull to a full time artistic career; the pleasure and pain of that."

Survival Guide for Regional Creatives

At the Bangalow RSL Hall on February 13, from 9.30am to 12.30pm. Tickets: $55. Bookings: or at

Topics:  art business social media

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