07 June 2012

A Coversation with Shelley of Shelley D

Shelley D is an artisan maker of gorgeous leather accessories including neckpieces, clutches, satchel bags, and card holders which she hand-cuts and creates from top quality leather and components.  Here, Shelley shares her creative inspiration with us..

Who is shelley d?

I'm Shelley Dunn, an Auckland based designer, originally from Feilding in the Manawatu. I studied fashion design at Massey University in Wellingtonand graduated in 2008. I was drawn to the technical aspects of my degree,excelling in patternmaking and construction. Upon graduating I was offered a position at Rembrandt Suits in Lower Hutt which I held for two years.There I gained a valuable insight to the production process while managing the made-to-measure suit orders from all over New Zealand and Australia. I left New Zealand in 2010 to do my O.E year and during my travels I worked as a production temp in a fast-pased London company with big name clients such as Topshop, River Island and ASOS. Upon returning to NZ, I settled in Auckland. I then picked up work freelancing as a patternmaker, completing patterns for a few well-known New Zealand brands and top design labels. I decided in 2011 to start my own label full time and shelley d was born.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”

I design clothing and accessories. Currently most of my items are accessories and my clothing range will be built up over the next few years.

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

Do you want to know everything, hmm. Well, I have a book called 'A Signiture Life' by Diane von Furstenburg that I've been reading slowly since Christmas. I also have a Bible there... not particularly religious but I like to check if there is anything I need to know now and then. I particularly like to scan through Proverbs. There is also a bottle of Aveno moisturing lotion, my beside lamp (which I thought was actually worth including a picture of because its a bit different!) and my clock/radio.

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

I look at art and design blogs a bit. I'm increasingly using Pinterest too which is a huge source of inspiration. I find it leads me to places and things I would otherwise not know about. I'm a fan of doing a google image search too. I don't own a radio, stereo or ipod at the moment so I'm a bit out of touch with music... my most recent album purchase was The XX when I was living in London. I LOVE this album.

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

Cats! Its the only other thing that consumes my time and attention other than my business. Of course I could talk about fashion, style, art and all of those things but if I want a break from work, I'm pretty happy talking about cats! I have two and they are just like my children (swabbling and battling for my attention included).

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

Ooh I don't know about free... but I actually have my eye on one in particular which is not free: Fiona Quinn runs a fashion and beauty photography workshop now and then. Other than that, I've often looked for a ceramic class with no success and I've also thought now and then about doing a glass bead class.

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

Since starting my label as a full time job it has actually taken over completely. My husband is pretty involved too, building my website and updating it and I'm also asking for his opinion on everything as I go. But I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't love it - I would rather be doing something I love 70 hours a week than something mundane 40hours a week. Even when the physical work may not add up to those hours, the thinking and planning certainly does. I hope that somewhere along the line it pays off!

What is your favourite creative screw-up?

Screw ups and favourite in the same sentence... not typically seen as a positive thing in my eyes. I'm pretty obsessive about things being how I planned.

Kitchen table or studio?

Studio! I actually have one now which has been amazing. My dad and husband built me a very awesome pattern-making table which has increased productivity! I also have an industrial sewing machine (as well as 3 domestic ones) and tubs and tubs of fabrics from my 4 years working at fabric stores. If I didn't have a workroom we wouldn't have a lounge!

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

An ipad. A new Samsung mobile phone. Some black platform wedge ankle boots. New merino tops for Winter (but its more the merino thats on the wishlist - the making is on the to do list).

You can find Shelley D products ... here
And follow on Facebook ... here


  1. Hi Shelley,
    Just loving the color of the Avocado Cluster Satchel,
    so cool, cheers Marie

  2. Great read! Thanks for sharing Shelley - loving the avocado bag too!


We love hearing what you have to say, please feel welcome to leave your comments...