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

1 comment:

  1. It sure is a cool market selling venue, and I enjoy the layout and design. A Very helpful team. cheers Marie


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