24 December 2011

Merry Christmas from New Zealand Handmade

Mel, Kya, Katherine, Marie, Ingrid, Jo and Joy - the team at New Zealand Handmade - would all like to wish you a very happy Christmas break and a prosperous New Year.

We have thoroughly enjoyed bringing NZHM to you in 2011 and promoting your wonderfully clever businesses to the world!

We are taking a break until the new year - but will still be around if you need us. You can reach us by emailing info@newzealandhandmade.co.nz

Don't forget to check out the flickr album from the New Zealand Handmade Ornament Swap and all the lovely handmade decorations that are exchanging hands around the world. And if you haven't yet uploaded a photo of your please do :)

Merry Christmas to all

Joy (Kazzalblue Baby and Childrens Boutique)

22 December 2011

An Interview with Bridget of Hearts Collective - On-line Marketplace

We complete our series of New Zealand on-line marketplaces bringing art, craft and design to your doorstep with new site Hearts Collective .  Established this year, owner and passionate supporter of eco-friendly products and businesses, Bridget, offers us an insight into the Hearts Collective 'heart and soul' ...

What is 'Hearts Collective'?

Hearts Collective is an online community for creators of eco-friendly handmade art, craft and design. 'Heartists' can open their own store, upload photos of their goodies, set categories, pricing and shipping. Our focus is to showcase beautiful, useful and stylish goods made from recycled or sustainable materials.

How did the idea for starting Hearts Collective first come about?

I was a partner in a business for many years publishing snowboarding, skiing and skateboard magazines. After selling the business, I wanted a new challenge that was creative, meaningful and environmentally sound. I enjoy building a business but it has to have some depth and a wider sense of responsibility. Anyway I was waiting for the right idea to come to me and I was working as a website editor. My boss was selling a partially built website similar to etsy.com so I thought it would be a great opportunity to promote eco-friendly art, craft and design. 

How long has Hearts Collective been in business?

We started this year! We're very much at the beginning of the journey with Hearts Collective so we are welcoming new artists to join up. I am able to help anyone with the technical side of opening a store. Its all very easy and logical but if people are nervous about selling online I can help out.

Who is on your team?

Dave Wilcox is the web developer and tech guru for Hearts Collective.  Dave has been great at fixing any of the inevitable little bugs in the system and he's great to work with because has a genuine interest in Hearts Collective. I also have a very supportive partner David Hemapo who believes in me 100% which is pretty cool. Other than that, its my friends and family who are there to discus, support and suggest.
What is your vision for Hearts Collective?

At the moment we are focusing on building up a strong community of 'Heartists' in New Zealand but the vision is for Hearts Collective to continue to grow and be a globally recognised and fully utilised online marketplace attracting the high quality environmentally conscious artisans and buyers. Our goal is to promote the value of beautiful and sustainable handmade goods and make them accessible to buyers.

What types of sellers make a good fit on Hearts Collective?

People who make beautiful things from the heart using environmentally sound materials and methods.

How are sellers verified and is there buyer and seller feedback for sales/purchases?

Often sellers will email me asking if their products are suitable for Hearts Collective. Anything that is at least 80% sustainable is welcome on the site, this includes things like woollen goods, upcycled jewellery and clothing, natural cosmetics, furniture made from recycled wood, organic cotton clothing etc. Sellers are requested to state their environmental philosophy in their profile. There is also a feedback function where buyers can rate the seller and give written feedback.

How big is the market for Handmade Goods in New Zealand?

There is currently a huge shift towards understanding the intrinsic value of handmade, recycled, upcycled and sustainable goods. Consumers are becoming much more savvy about how their buying choices affect the environment. The market for handmade goods in new Zealand will continue to grow as people slowly start to realise the fulility of buying things at the Warehouse!

Do you actively seek out international buyers, and if so, what age of buyers are from overseas?

At the moment we are focusing on the New Zealand market but we have set up the site so that we can easily include the international market in the near future.
What’s the most popular category sales-wise?

Jewellery is the most popular category for buyers, but it also the most competitive category for sellers. The most successful handmade artisans obviously need to be doing something unique and appealing. Its great to see people who are doing something that nobody else has thought of! On Hearts Collective we have people who make outdoor chairs from ancient wine barrels, children's furniture from wooden crates, contemporary homewares upcycled from vintage plates and jewellery made from recycled silver. You could use old bedheads or pages from old books as a painting canvas or unravel old jerseys and knit a cushion cover! There are lots of great websites to inspire your creative upcycling brilliance!

There are a wide variety of merchandise prices on your site. Is there a particular price point or range that seems to do best on Hearts Collective?

Most people are looking for gifts under $50.

Where can people learn more about buying and selling on Hearts Collective?

You can check out info centre (http://www.heartscollective.com/pages/info-centre.php) and just go ahead and join up or you are welcome to contact me: bridget@heartscollective.com

Anything else you would like to add?

Hearts Collective is pretty new and we're on the lookout for new 'Heartists' to sign up. Its free to join and only costs 50 cents to list each product for 3 months. Its so cheap and a great way to sell your creations online. I'd love to hear from you!

NZHM Members on Hearts Collective:

19 December 2011

An Interview with Todd of Toggle - On-Line New Zealand Design Gift Shop

Continuing with our interview series featuring New Zealand on-line marketplaces, today we feature design and gift website Toggle, with co-owner Todd kindly answering some of our burning questions...

What is 'Toggle'?

Toggle is an online design and gift store, representing some of New Zealand's most talented designers. Toggle facilitates kiwi designers (large & small) selling direct to the public. Toggle hand selects it's designers, who must be NZ based, and with a consistent theme towards affordable contemporary products.

How did the idea for starting Toggle first come about?
How long has Toggle been in business?

Toggle was originally started around 7 years ago as a co-operative for crafters based in Auckland. As a business, Toggle was taken over by myself in 2010 and gone through a complete rebrand and relaunch. The focus was originally that of handmade crafts and we have now reconceived this to cover all NZ design.

Who is on your team? 

On a daily basis, Toggle is a 'one man operation' with myself as the programmer, customer support, marketeer etc... in the background my wife, Roberta, looks after all the financials ensuring we can keep running month-to-month.

What is your vision for Toggle?

Our vision is for Toggle to become the defacto choice for the public when looking for NZ inspired and created gifts.

How many registered users do you have, and how many people sell with you?

Toggle currently has around 4000 registered users, and attracts around 20,000 unique visitors per month. We currently represent 163 designers, which is growing weekly.

What types of sellers make a good fit on Toggle?

We currently accept around 1-in-4 designers on to Toggle. As the site has matured we have slowly become increasingly selective about our retailers. We have very high standards of service expected from our clientele, and this has to be reciprocated by our retailers. Wehn we were first getting going, we really had to scratch around for designers who beleived in the Toggle concept, now we are very fortunate the the majority of our retailers approach us. We have been very fortunate to attract some increasingly large retailers who wish to promote their products through Toggle; brands such as NZ Identity, DQ Company, Envirosax - to name jsut a few - have joined our brood in the past few months. The exponential growth of our website, and the attraction of these larger organisations, has meant that there is increasingly less 'handmade' products on our store. However, we continue to add new handmade designers... most recently Squibble and Co. joined the Toggle ranks.

How are sellers verified and is there buyer and seller feedback for sales/purchases?

To be considered as a seller on Toggle it is imperative that the producer has developed a brand and has a clear and identifiable concept and aesthetic. Their work must be cohesive in its themeing.

What’s the most popular category sales-wise?

Our most popular items are jewellery, but there has recently been significant growth in the sale of homewares.

Anything else you would like to add?

The outlook for Toggle is very bright... we have quadrupled our turnover in our first year of ownership, tripled the number of listings, and seen a 500% increase in traffic coming through our site. We are slowly, but steadily, broadening our horizons in to print advertising and currently considering the merits of a TV campaign... how exciting for the little guys!

Where can people learn more about buying and selling on Toggle?

You can contact Todd at info@toggle.co.nz  and visit the website at http://www.toggle.co.nz/

NZHM members selling on Toggle : 

ABC Paintings,
Estella Rose,
Fantail Digital Art,
Ginger Pye,
Honey and Spice,
Sleep and Her Sisters,
Margaret Quinn,
Monkeej, My 2 Monsters,
Odd One Out,
Squibble & Co,
Sticky Tiki,
Tessa by Design,

15 December 2011

A Conversation with Megan of Sly Fox Jewellery

Taking her inspiration from  animals and  nature among other things,  Megan of Sly Fox Jewellery, makes beautiful jewellery in art pendant style and super sweet tiny charms.  Here, Megan shares more about her creative world...

Who is Sly Fox Jewellery?

A precious collection of jewellery made by Megan Webber, a 21 year old statistics and biology student that loves to create.

What’s your “handmade groove”?

I make jewellery inspired by my love of animals, nature, illustration-based art, and whimsical objects.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)

Lamp, keys, teacup candle, ceramic deer and rabbit, and a couple of acorns I picked from under a tree.

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?

My creative role models would definitely have to be my parents and my grandmother. My mother is an artist and was always a work-from-home kind of mum. For as long as I can remember she always had my twin sister and I involved in some creative project. My father is a builder and carpenter. He built the house I grew up in. Whenever I have an idea for a piece of furniture or display, no matter how far out it is, Dad can make it happen. Granny is a fantastic sewer and quilter, and like my Dad she helps my ambitions projects come to life.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?

Any kind of creative project.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?

1) Finders Keepers Markets in Australia -The Finders Keepers are design and art markets dedicated to supporting emerging designers, artists & musicians and bringing new contemporary design to the forefront.

2) Hearts for Christchurch - Hearts for Christchurch showcases an amazing array of more than 4,000 stitch-craft hearts from around the world. The project is the inspiration of Napier woman, Evie Harris, who started creating and gathering the hearts after the February earthquake.

3) I would also love to attend some creative workshops in Christchurch, though I am a bit out of the loop with that one!

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?

Lists. I write massive to-do lists daily and love the satisfaction of ticking each box once the task is complete.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?

I often have creative mishaps! Most commonly when I’m sewing. Patterns are not always for me so I often draft my own, though forget important parts like adding a zip!

Kitchen table or studio?

My desk ,which is a study desk by day, but by night transforms into a chaotically messy work bench.

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?

A second desk!

You can find Sly Fox products ... here
And follow on Facebook .... here

13 December 2011

An Interview with Lucy of FELT - NZ Online Handmade Marketplace

As you all know, we at New Zealand Handmade are passionate about New Zealand Handmade businesses and we are just delighted to offer an insight into top New Zealand Online Handmade Marketplace - 'Felt', courtesy of Felt's creator and enthusiastic promoter of all things quality and handmade, Lucy Arnold...

What is 'Felt'?

Felt is an online marketplace for handmade goods, designed to provide an easy and accessible outlet for makers, and a fabulous shopping experience for people who love beautiful things.

How did the idea for starting Felt first come about?

Shortly after I bought my first sewing machine, I happened upon some lush merino knit fabric and designed a pair of armwarmers as a birthday present for my mum. At around the same time, my friend Katie and I discovered Etsy (it would have been about six months old at the time) and she suggested I try listing armwarmers to see if they sold. So I did, and they did sell, quite successfully...and after a while I started to think about how I could sell them at home in New Zealand. It was still early days for Etsy and it didn't have the international following it does now, and I couldn't see how it would ever be able to serve our local market as well as a local site could.

So, after a few months of thinking, dreaming and talking about the idea to anyone who would listen, I started to design how it might look and work, and worked with a web developer to get it built.

How long has Felt been in business?

Felt was launched on June 4, 2007, so it is now about four and a half years old. Like any startup it has its ups and downs and moments when it all gets a bit much, but I've met so many cool people, both through the craft side of the business and the technology side, and Felt has brought me so many opportunities and pushed me well out of my comfort zone to achieve things I might never have done otherwise. It's been an amazing journey so far!

Who is on your team?

The Felt team is Marcel, Rose and me. We each hold multiple job titles. Marcel is Felt's chief technical officer – he handles the maintenance and ongoing development of the site, and advises me on decisions involving the technology of Felt. Rose moderates new listings and compiles Fresh on Felt ( http://felt.co.nz/blog/category/fresh-on-felt/ ), as well as answering enquiries and helping me with accounts and administration. I'm responsible for Felt's design, marketing and advertising, decision making and business strategy. Day to day I also manage the blog, Facebook page and Twitter account.

What is your vision for Felt?

I'm in it for the long haul! Felt is going to be a world class marketplace and community for New Zealand crafters and makers to showcase their talent at home and overseas. I want it to be a business that brings people together, encourages small business and provides inspiration, support and opportunities to creative folk.

How many registered users do you have, and how many people sell with you?

Felt has 23,000 registered users and of these, just over 2400 are sellers.

What types of sellers make a good fit on Felt?

I hope that Felt works well for most makers – I designed it to be an elegant platform that's about the sellers and their products rather than the Felt brand. We've tried to make it simple and inexpensive to use, and we do our best to listen to our sellers and respond accordingly. Obviously it's never going to suit everyone, but our aim is to make it accessible and usable for crafters, designers and makers across the board.

How are sellers verified and is there buyer and seller feedback for sales/purchases?

The first five listings a seller submits are moderated to ensure the products meet Felt's criteria and the listing content adheres to our terms and conditions. We also have a feedback system which allows the buyer and seller to leave feedback following a sale/purchase, and this is displayed on each user's profile.

How big is the market for Handmade Goods in New Zealand?

I'm not sure how you'd quantify it. It's limited by our small population, but I think there's still plenty of room for growth. Handmade is currently a niche market in NZ but I think it can move beyond that – and I don't think it has to be just about quantity. Even in the short time that Felt has been around, we've seen qualitative growth as well, and I'd love to see that continue.

Do you actively seek out international buyers, and if so, what %age of buyers are from overseas?

I currently do some advertising in Australia, but until now the focus has been on growing and improving Felt to the point that it can compete internationally. I don't have an accurate figure for you but I would estimate 5–10% of sales are to buyers overseas.

What’s the most popular category sales-wise?

Without a doubt, jewellery. It's the largest category on Felt by a long shot, so it stands to reason that sales would be high in that area. Other popular categories are babies' and kids' products and homewares.

There is a wide variety of merchandise prices on your site. Is there a particular price point or range that seems to do best on Felt?

The average sale price on Felt hovers around $25. There are a lot of sales around the $15 mark, and $50–$60 seems a popular price point also. We have noticed a significant increase in high end sales as Felt gets bigger and more established, so sales of items over $100 are not unusual. Obviously it depends on the perceived value of the product, too.

Where can people learn more about buying and selling on Felt?

The first place to visit is the Felt help section ( http://felt.co.nz/help ). The Felt forum (http://felt.co.nz/forum ) is a great place to post questions or comments to discuss with other users. We have a busy Facebook page ( http://facebook.com/iheartfelt ) and keep in touch with our users on Twitter (http://twitter.com/iheartfelt ). Sellers can also request to join our Felt Sellers group on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/203123816417315/ ). General enquiries can be sent to enquiries@felt.co.nz.

screenshot of Felt home page

Our Members on Felt...

ABC Paintings
Angela's Attic
BK Crafts
by Nature
Coco and Co
Coulter and Coulter
Crowns Clothing
Eejay Designs
Erin Carver
Estella Rose
Fairy Spit
Fantail Digital Art
Fat Spatula
Feel at Home
Felted Kiwi
Funky Glam
Ginger Pye
Go Benny Go
Gryphon Designs
Handspun (Margaret Quinn)
Hippy Hound
Koyal Kapilla
Lily Pad
Linden Sage
LisaF Design
Little Handfuls Mini Bears
Little Old Nags
Little Peanuts
Little Stitches
Little White Box
LiTtle WoRm
Marian Smale
Mermaids Purse
Miss Milly Moo
My 2 Monsters
Natural Star
New Creationz
Odd One Out
One Button
Oscar & George
People Puppies
Funky Fido
Poppy & Bee
Pretty Good
Ragdoll Princess
Red Lippy
Ruby Jude
Sandy Densem
Saskia.n Designs
Sleep and Her Sisters
Sly Fox Jewellery
Soft Earth Art
Spencer Jane
Squibble and Co
Sugar Sugar
The Adventures of Alex O and Co
The Wardrobe
Sailor Spy
Wildflower Designs

11 December 2011

The Kiwi Christmas Market - Hokitika

The Kiwi Christmas Market will be held on Wednesday 14 December, 5pm-9pm at the Westland High School Hall, Hokitika.

This year there will be a whopping 27 stalls in attendance as well as a giftwrapping table to get all of your lovely purchases wrapped while you're there.

The range of stalls include:
Fudge, Licorice, Spiced Sea Salt, Smoked Garlic, Preserves, Baking, Flamework Glass Beads, Jewellery, birdhouses, Sewn Items, Christmas Decorations, Toys, Paint your own bird kits, Handknitting, Felted items, Mosaics, Oil Paintings, 3D Art, Candles, Soap, Illustrated Books, Happiness Kits, Pottery, Textile Art, Childrens Sunhats, Textile Books and the list goes on!

The Facebook Link is:

08 December 2011

A Conversation with Katherine of Oscar and George

Don't you love this gorgeous little monster?  Knitted in mustard merino, so teary and needing a cuddle! Katherine of Oscar&George took her original inspiration for her product range from a series of drawings by her pre-school children and handknitted and embroidered them into reality - gorgeous!  Here, Katherine tells us more about her creative world...

Who is {Oscar&George}?

When kids are learning to draw they always come up with the cutest little creations. I used to love looking at what my two would come up with next, and really wanted to do something engaging with them. When we moved to Christchurch I finally had the time to spend on it and started knitting up some patterns from their drawings. I’ve since made the little Felt Pocket Monsters to have them together as a group because they are all so cute!

What’s your “handmade groove ?”

I love anything creative, and have always been a sewer, but until Oscar&George didn’t really like knitting. I’ve since taught myself crochet as well. I love prints and textiles and, well anything really!

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)

To be honest, nothing, (apart from dust). I don’t spend time relaxing in there so just use it to put my phone on when I collapse into bed.

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?

I see so many on Etsy, Pinterest, and sites like FindersKeepers. Fabric and craft shops too, I love the tactile inspiration that comes from walking through a fabulous fabric shop.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?

Design, furniture, textiles

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?

Marketing myself. I suck at it. Printing textiles and paper products. Would be great to learn some awesome product photography tips too.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?

It’s a little easier now I’m working from home, but raising two kids by yourself while working is always going to be a bit of a challenge. When my oldest started school the load got a little lighter, but I totally don’t have the time to finish all the things I want to and find myself not sleeping and thinking about that instead. Vicious cycle!

What is your favourite creative screw-up?

Can’t think of anything off the top of my head!

Kitchen table or studio?

Lucky enough to have a studio space in our house. I have just recovered (badly) an incredibly comfy retro chair that I can sit at by the windows looking out into the garden, but am mostly at my desk as I tend to alternate between craft and computer. There is too much to do!

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?

Just a bigger house, more space and much much more cool fabric. Oh and a few more hours in the day would be nice too.

You can find Oscar&George products... here
And Follow on Facebook ... here

04 December 2011

A Pleasant change

The other day,  I put down my felting needle and bundles of soft wool
I decided that on this day I would bring out my paper drawer
Full of wonderful arty card, paper, old music sheets, glitter, ribbon  etc
(The pinking shears belonged to my Father, and are 50 years old )
And make some door knob dazzlers
I delved into my daughter's old jewelry stash (permission given of course)
What fun I had
What do you do that is different from your normal craft

cheers  Marie

01 December 2011

A Conversation with Alex of Adventures of Alex O and Co

I am always struck by the beautiful finishing of Adventures of Alex O and Co's products - so intricate and detailed.  With a love of making beautiful things from recycled blankets and materials and by buying and dyeing her own felt, it's clear Alex puts a whole lot of love and time into each and every creation from recycled blanket hot water bottles with appliqued bambis, scottie dogs, whales and more, to Bendy Steiner Dolls.   Here, Alex shares more about her creative life ...

Who is Adventures of Alex O and Co?

Alex O’Connell

What’s your “handmade groove ?”

I love to make beautiful things from recycled blanket and natural fabrics.
I especially love working with Felt. I use both 100% wool felt and wool blend felt which I dye myself
It is always a joy to see what colours you can create.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)

I am an avid reader I always have a number of books by my bedside table. The library is almost my second home.
*Tea recipes for Health and Wellbeing and Taste by Margaret Roberts
*Food for Friends by Jane and Ramn Mostowfi
*Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride
*Australian Vogue
*Dwell Magazine
* Covet by JR Ward

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?

I studied art history at Auckland University and the two biggest artists that have influenced me are Gustav Klimt and Frida Kahlo.
Both loved colour. I am drawn to colour especially green and red.
Right now I love listening to Paolo Conte
My creative fire is sparked by a number of things but mostly I would say nature, beautiful things, friends, family, other crafters………. life.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?

At the moment it seems to be food. In my 30s it was houses now in my 40’s it is food. I have been doing vegan and raw food courses for the last year. Trying to cut out meat, wheat, diary and processed sugars. It seems to be the burning topic of conversation with my friends right now.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?

Oh this is hard and there are so many things I want to learn.
If I had the money and the time I would love to go to America and do some Sqam Art Workshops
In this coming year I need to learn to crochet as my son will be learning it in school and I have never done it.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?

It’s a juggle. I work part time from home for a travel company in a support role. I have my computer and sewing tables side by side. So I can swap from one to the other as need be. I can hand sew and play board games, sew and have Friday night drinks or cups of tea or watch TV or have a conversation with my husband. I must confess I am still working on the balance but often times I have to put all the sewing down and spend time with the ones I love as you only get to enjoy your 8 year old for 365 days. So I would say balance is an ongoing thing.

What is your favorite creative screw-up?

I bought a load of felt and tried to dye it black. It came out a beautiful dusty pink.
It was an amazing colour and I have never been able to make it again.

Kitchen table or studio?

I stress in the kitchen and relax in the studio. So studio wins hands down every time.

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?

I don’t have a written down wish list. But an ongoing wish list in my head.
Although sometimes you spend so much time wishing for things that you forget to appreciate what you have right now.
One of my biggest wishes is that I can always work at what I love.
You are truly blessed if you get this wish.

You can find Adventures of Alex O and Co’s products … here
Follow on Facebook … here