1-on-1 business help for creatives by creatives

This free 6-month program teaches business fundamentals for artists and creatives.

Receive one-on-one business mentorship with a creative business owner, and access to a monthly cohort meetup with other creative businesses. Find guidance and accountability from those who have been in your shoes, and turn your creative pursuit into something that pushes you forward.

Program has started. Join the waitlist to be notified when the next program starts.

What is a creative business?

Publishing & content creators

Music & entertainment

Digital games

Film & media



Visual arts & crafts


Not sure if you’re a creative business?

Who’s perfect for this program?

You’re a great fit for this program if you see yourself in one of these stages:

“I’m thinking about making this a business”

“One-person shop working out of my house”

“Growing and I might be ready to hire someone”

What happens in this program?

First, we meet you where you are. None of these, “You need to write a 22 page business plan and then we’ll talk” meetings. We start by understanding who you are, where your business is, and what you want to do with it.

Then, we find strategies that work for you to get you where you want to go.

Specific strategies like:

  • Growing sales on your online store
  • Deciding what legal structure your business should be
  • Accounting and tax help (What can I write off? Do I need an accountant?)
  • Marketing and social media strategies
  • Finding customers
  • Writing business plans that are actually useful
  • Finding your breakeven point (Can this business become profitable?)
  • Hiring staff
  • Controlling burnout
  • Building business systems


Watch a recording of our informational webinar. In this 30 minute video, Kristen Santiago gives more detail about the program.

Why you might like this program:

Starting a business is strange, confusing and hard (it’s also really exciting and rewarding). Maybe you wanted to give it a try, but when you look at other resources it doesn’t feel very genuine or doable. Or they make you feel like an outsider who doesn’t know a lot. You want to learn–you know you can learn–but the people who are offering to help are intimidating or just don’t get you.

The ErieMade Business Academy is a bit different. We use business mentors that are actual creative business owners. We teach and use business tools that make sense to creatives. We know what it is like to be in your shoes: juggling a full-time job, a family, and/or a creative pursuit that just won’t seem to grow any further. Our ideas started small. Some of us wanted to grow them big. Some of us just wanted a side hustle. We want what you want: to pursue our passions and see more creative businesses in Erie succeed.

We will walk with you, not talk at you. You won’t be pressured to turn your business into something it’s not. We want to be in your corner, supporting you and your goals. And not just the feel-good goals. Real, actionable goals, like increasing sales by 50% in 6 months. Or hiring your first (or next) employee. Or filing your taxes correctly.

The program is a mix of one-on-one meetings 2x/month where you get detailed help on your specific business. We also meet once a month as a group. This combination builds your network, holds you accountable, and inspires you to keep moving forward.

Program Details

EBA is a free six month accelerator program for creative businesses. You can expect to commit approximately 5 hours each month to this program. Over the course of 6 months, you will receive:

A one-on-one intake interview to understand who you are, where you are, and what you want to do with your business or idea
12 one-on-one consulting sessions with your business mentor to help solve your specific challenges
6 monthly peer group meetings with other creative business owners
Participation in a 2022 summer creative business fair to put your new skills to work
Connections and referrals to various grants and loans
The tools and skills to keep growing your business, even after the end of the program


  • You are a full-time business owner or aspire to be in the next two years
  • Your business operates in low to moderate income areas
  • You live in Erie County
  • You’re willing to participate in pre- and post- program surveys to track progress (we’re grant funded, so we want to know if this program works)


We want any owner of a creative business to apply. But we are limited to accepting 20 businesses for this year’s cohort. Priority will be given to businesses that:

  • Identify as an artist, maker, designer, craftsperson, and/or micro manufacturer
  • Minority, women, and/or veteran-owned creative businesses
  • Businesses with evidence of and/or aspirations for social impact:
    • Creating quality jobs
    • Reactivating postindustrial spaces
    • Revitalizing Main Street corridors
    • Elevating underserved populations

Our Partners

Our Mentor

Kristen Santiago

Kristen Santiago is a community-connected maker, entrepreneur, and business consultant based in the Erie area. She’s spent the last nine years assisting and starting new businesses and nonprofits, and is currently the owner of Ivy + Atlas Business Consulting and Gone Local Erie, a corporate gift box company and online retailer that sells only products made in and around Erie County. Kristen spent five years on the founding board of Erie ClaySpace and is currently on the board at the Erie Art Museum.

The Erie Center for Arts & Technology (ECAT) is a community-based educational arts and career training facility that inspires, educates and empowers people of all ages with adult job training and creative youth programs.




Erie Center for Arts & Technology
650 East Avenue, Suite 120
Erie, PA 16503

Monday - Friday
8:30 AM - 4:30 PM