The creative Hamilton-based duo of Melissa Wise and Heidi Hollows are the talent behind the colourful, one of a kind or limited edition clothing label that is Jack and Flea. Recently we talked to Melissa (Jack) about what makes Jack and Flea tick.
What do you make?
We make children’s clothing, accessories for women and children, and women’s clothing. We also sometimes create jewellery, stationery and home decor.
How did you get into sewing?
We’ve both always been creative and made things, but sewing makes up most of what we do. We fell into it about eight years ago. Heidi’s (Flea’s) mother enrolled us in a sewing course – because she was sick of us doing nothing! So we learned how to sew and just kept on with it once we knew how. We loved the craft and creating outfits – and having competitions with each other to see who could make the best outfit in twenty minutes! So Heidi’s mum brought out the sewers in us.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your medium?
Yes. We both have a level three sewing, cutting and pattern making certificate, and I am also studying fashion design at the moment.
What are your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love the design process – sketching what we could make – and of course I love the fabric sampling and shopping… I mean what girl wouldn’t! I love print fabrics and coloured fabrics. The tools I love are unfortunately the ones I can’t afford: specialised sewing machines that make things for us instead of making a lot of fiddly things by hand.
What inspires you?
I pull a lot from my fabric choices. They inspire me to make something and think about a certain shape or design element – but then again I also get inspiration from places like Pinterest. I love Pinterest: it has everything and anything so I spend quite a bit of time on it. You can get lost in that world.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Our philosophy is that each item is made with love. Each item is for someone, so when we make things they all have someone in mind because we know that one day someone will get to have it for themselves.
Describe your workspace:
We have a little studio in our home set up with our machines, mannequins, fabric, buttons and a whole lot of random bric-a-brac.
Five words that describe your mind:
A delirium, a labyrinth, weird and wonderful… and very colourful!
What has been your favourite feedback from a customer?
This was sent from a lovely girl who bought a card from us: she says “Well ~ ~ ~ I Love You & That’s All XO Just Your Girl X((((((SQUISH))))))!” I thought that was so cute.
What are you currently listening to?
Your favourite childhood book?
Once Upon a Golden Apple by Maggie de Vries.
I would have to say my best friends… they are the ones, at the end of the day, who are there for you. Not any famous person or made-up character. It is their words that brighten my days.
A favourite quote:
“Be love in the face of hate.” (An original, but my fav.)
What was the last handmade item you bought?
It was a hand-crafted stamp of a camera.
Do you have any pets?
Sadly no. We have precious fabric in our house so indoor animals are out, and our backyard is too small for an outside dog.
If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I would be the cheeky innovative stitch lady. When I blink I get to change the outfits of whomever I please! I would change the outfit of the baddies to penguin suits and clown suits at the most inappropriate times and I would dress the underpriveleged in the finest.
Melissa and Heidi have kindly offered one lucky Felt blog reader a prize of one of their adorable stretch cotton baby headbands, in the size and colour of the winner’s choice! Leave a comment below, telling us why you like Jack and Flea’s style or how they inspire you, and you’ll be in to win. The draw will be made on Friday 19 July and is open to New Zealand residents only. Make sure you check out the rest of Jack and Flea’s fabulous work in their Felt shop.