T-Shirts and Suits:
A Guide to the Business of Creativity

David Parrish


“This common sense, accessible book is a comprehensive guide to establishing, growing and leading a creative business. It hits all the right buttons in all the right ways.”

Paul Smith. Arts and Business.

“A very useful and stimulating book, and a much-needed companion for would-be entrepreneurs in the creative industries.”

Dag Kjelsaas Hotvedt. Akerselva Innovasjon, Norway.

“More than just a great read, T-Shirts and Suits is a valuable tool for anyone embarking on, or surviving, business in the creative sector.”

Diane Earles. Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK.

“Owning this guide is equivalent to having a professional adviser on call.”

Anne McInerney. UK Trade and Investment

“Clear and concise with a lovely clean design. T-Shirts and Suits is a great mixture of theory, practice and inspiration.”

Fiona Shaw. Capsica Pubishing

“Really useful, motivational and colourful for creative people and beyond! You can dip in and out and it reads like a creative mind.”

Patricia van den Akker. Cultural Industries Development Agency.

“We both read this over the same weekend, which you can’t say for many management books, and we found it both inspirational and practically useful – particularly essential when working in creativity when sometimes people think the inspiration on its own will be enough.”

Ronnie Hughes and Sarah Horton. A Sense of Place.

“David’s book is great! It’s accessible and provides information that can be dipped into as and when it’s needed by nascent entrepreneurs.”

Lorna Collins. National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship.

“T-Shirts and Suits demystifies the ins and outs of building a business in the creative industries by providing a practical guide for creative entrepreneurs that uses case studies to illustrate best practice.”

Alexander Schischlik. UNESCO.

First published in 2005 by Merseyside ACME, Liverpool, UK.

Reprinted in the UK 2006.

Published in translations in Chile, China, Colombia, Lithuania, Spain, Taiwan, and Thailand.

This book is available as a paperback from Amazon.co.uk

This book is available as a free eBook in PDF format with full illustrations as published in the paperback edition, downloadable from www.tss-ebook.com.

This text-only eBook published in 2014 by Wordscapes Ltd, Liverpool, UK


ISBN 978-0-9576945-7-6

A CIP Catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

© David Parrish 2005 – 2014

All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission.

The right of David Parrish to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Disclaimer. Every effort has been made to make this guide as useful as possible. However, the publisher and author shall not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by readers as a result of any information contained herein.

T-Shirts and Suits ® and the T-Shirts and Suits logo are Registered Trade Marks.

About the author…

David Parrish is a management consultant, trainer and speaker who advises design, media and technology businesses in the creative and digital industries. Based in the UK, David specialises in strategic marketing and has worked in more than 30 countries around the world. Amongst his many other professional accreditations he is a member of the Chartered Management Institute, the Institute of Consulting, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

David is the author of ‘The Creative, Cultural and Digital Industries Guide’.

His latest book is ‘Chase One Rabbit: Strategic Marketing for Business Success




1. Creativity and Business

Ideas in Action: Sharon Mutch

2. Know Yourself

Ideas in Action: Peppered Sprout / Plastic Rhino

3. Keeping a Look Out

Ideas in Action: Online Originals

4. The Magic of Marketing

Ideas in Action: New Mind Internet

5. Dealing with Competition

Ideas in Action: ESP Multimedia

6. Protecting your Creativity

Ideas in Action: Medication

7. Counting Your Money

Ideas in Action: JAB Design Consultancy

8. Keeping Good Company

Ideas in Action: Red Production Company

9. Leadership and Management

Ideas in Action: The Team

10. Business Feasibility

Ideas in Action: Mando Group

11. Your Route to Success

Ideas in Action: The Windows Project

12. Conclusion

What to do next


Foreword to the first edition by James Purnell MP, 2005

Foreword to the reprinted edition by Shaun Woodward MP, 2006


This book is intended to be both inspiring and practical, to offer some great ideas for building creative businesses, yet at the same time warn that it’s not easy. It is for start-ups and established enterprises, large and small. It aims to be readable as a whole and also useful to refer back to, section by section. Take from the book what’s useful to you, as and when it suits you and leave the rest for other people or for another day.

Most of what I have written in the following pages I have learned from my own mistakes. My best qualifications are not my academic and professional ones but those gained by having been there, done it, got it wrong and then sometimes got it right. I have been involved in running workers’ co-operatives, social enterprises and businesses in the creative sector since well before the term ‘creative industries’ was invented. I’ve dealt with all the issues in this book in one way or another and I am still learning. Nowadays I wear a suit as well as a T-shirt.

My approach to consultancy and training is not to lecture but to facilitate – to offer some thoughts and experience to stimulate new ideas and empower others – then help people to find the individual solutions that suit their enterprise. It is in the same spirit that I have written this book. As you read this guide, bear in mind that nothing in it is absolute. Each idea needs to be adapted to your own circumstances and ethos; each is offered as a starting point rather than a conclusion. If you disagree with some of it, that’s fine. If it prompts you to find a more effective solution, that’s even better. The purpose of this book is not to tell you how to run your business but simply to provide some ideas and support.

My inspiration for this book comes from the hundreds of people I have worked with and advised in the creative industries over the years.

The ‘creative industries’ are defined as ‘those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.’ These include: advertising; architecture; the art and antiques market; crafts; design; designer fashion; film and video; interactive leisure software; music; the performing arts; publishing; software and computer games; and television and radio.

The Creative Industries turn creative talent into income streams for the owners of the intellectual property that this talent creates. The growth of the Creative Industries is a reflection of the transition from the age of manufacturing to the age of information and ideas. Just as Britain led the Industrial Revolution, Britain is now a leader in the Creative Industries and that’s why the British Government is supporting this growing economy. Britain has a lot to offer the rest of the world and the British Council is promoting the ideas of the creative industries world-wide. UNESCO is also supporting the Cultural Industries in the developing world.

It’s big business which needs both T-shirts and suits.

Some of my most recent work has been with the Creative Advantage project on Merseyside. I have to thank colleagues past and present at Merseyside ACME for inviting me to be involved from the beginning in the design and delivery of Creative Advantage which supports a wide range of creative enterprises, both established and new. This book builds on the success of that work. Some of the points made in this guide are illustrated by examples of Merseyside businesses, but the themes are universal and I have also drawn on my work with CIDS, CIDA and other organisations as well as my international experience of consultancy and training in countries as diverse as China, South Africa and India.

I would like to hear from you with your comments on this book, other examples of best practice, and additional ideas that I can share through my consultancy assignments, training workshops and support projects with other creative entrepreneurs.

David Parrish.

November 2005

1. Creativity and Business