Featured Seller: Aviva

Jeni Dickson founded Aviva out of dissatisfaction with the wastage in the fashion industry. Rather than continuing to be part of the problem, she decided it was time to be part of the solution! Aviva is Hebrew for ‘renewal’ and thus expresses nicely the upcycled nature of many of her quirky and original products. Jeni makes her pieces in Auckland with three year-old Ciara, a constant ‘helper’ in her workroom. (Ciara’s favourite job is sorting through the button box.)

What do you make?
Anything that takes my fancy! My preferred medium is fabric, so I do art, wallets, bags, cushions, and accessories in lovely pieces of ‘upcycled’ fabrics. I also have a bit of a love affair with magnets so turn buttons and animals into fridge and office decor! Then there’s a bit of jewellery… and stationery… My husband thinks I have creative ideas leaking out my ears so I really just try to catch those and make some of them happen! It’s pretty varied.

How did you get into your craft?
Like many creatives out there, I think I caught the bug as a kid because my mum was a crafter and she, with infinite patience, taught me how to sew, make Christmas decorations and cards, and generally let my imagination fly. That’s part of the reason I chose to name my shop Aviva – her name (Viv) is hiding in there.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I have a fashion design degree so, while it’s not exactly how I outwork my craft at present, it definitely influences my design aesthetic and even my design process.


Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I have to say, I love using good quality materials and tools. I notice such a difference to the ease of manufacture and quality of the finished product when I’ve used the right tool for the job and good materials.

Describe your creative process:
I usually let the materials tell the story – each piece is suited to something different, be it a wallet, a magnet or a piece of jewellery. I often just take out my pieces and have a bit of an experiment to see what comes. It means my finished pieces are often very limited editions and it keeps me interested in what I do. I’ve never been one to get excited by ‘mass’ production!

What inspires you?
Oh golly. It might be easier to ask what doesn’t inspire me! Ummmm… plants, interiors, the sky, architecture, fashion, prints, colours, photography… the list is endless. Actually, the major thing that I find inspires me is conversations with other creative people, hearing their stories and ideas. The buzz is contagious. It’s one of the reasons I love this Featured Seller segment.


Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I really like the concept of taking the unwanted and making desirable objects from them. Where possible, I use ‘upcycled’ components in my work.

Five words that describe your mind:
Busy, animated, innovative, crammed, resourceful.

Your favourite feedback from a customer: “He liked it so he put a ring on it”!

What are you currently listening to?
My kids squabbling, again. Oh, you mean music? If I get my way it’s Edge Vol. 2, something from Mumford and Sons or Adele.

Recommend an album:
Have you heard Lorde? You gotta if you haven’t.

Your favourite childhood book?
It’s a toss up between The Queen who Stole the Sky and The Magic Faraway Tree.

What are you reading now?
Magazines. I have just finished a Lee Child book and got NOTHING else done (I tend to get lost in the story and lose track of time) so mags are a much safer option for me.

A favourite quote:
My current favourite is from Oscar Wilde. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”


Do you have any pets?
A cat called Moven. Short for Movenpick. It’s too long a story to tell, but it involved him deciding we would be his new family so he sat outside our front door and pestered us for two weeks until we caved and let him in.

What was the last handmade item you bought?
Cloud earrings by Sum;D, from The Bread and Butter Letter.

Take a peek at Jeni’s Felt shop to see her full range of original and upcycled creations. Jeni has generously offered one lucky Felt blog reader a prize of this gorgeous M’me Summertime Bag, in upcycled vintage printed cotton. This small but perfectly formed accessory is lined with cobalt blue fabric and is a guaranteed one-off. To be in to win, leave a comment below, telling us what inspires you about Jeni’s words and her creations. The draw will be made on Friday 13 September (we promise nothing spooky will happen!) and is open to New Zealand residents only.

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30 Responses to “Featured Seller: Aviva”

  1. Debbie Flett says:

    What inspires me most about Jeni is that she is a busy busy mum and yet she still manages to produce such amazing artwork – and that’s what her crafts are ART!!

  2. Leah says:

    I absolutely love that you are taking somewhat “unwanted”items to use on your store/art. My fiance is particularly keen to reduce our wastage so I Erik definitely be having a tootle round your shop :-)

  3. great to see someone using “waste” as there is too much wasted in this world. Love your items

  4. Viv says:

    She’s amazing this talented daughter of mine! I’m very proud of her. Lovely to know Ciara is being inspired from an early age.

  5. Amber says:

    Jeepers Jeni…! Is that a photo of your craft studio…? if so, that in itself is very inspiring. I long for a neat and tidy area to work in – it happens occasionally, but never lasts too long. I am blown away with your array of goodies, an eclectic mix of gorgeousness and quirkiness. Your pieces are very cool!

  6. Sue says:

    It’s great to see your creative upbringing bearing fruit. Love your choice of name. Well done Jeni. Good luck.

  7. Hil says:

    Your aunt thinks you are very talented just like your Mum, looks like Ciara will follow in your footsteps. Wish I had your creative talents.

  8. Keri says:

    The creativity of others always inspires me, and knowing how busy you will be with two wee kiddies, the fact you can still have a creative thought that isn’t “what am I going to feed these kids, or find to entertain them with next…” is truely inspiring. Well done you clever girl, the shop looks awesome and I look forward to checking it out.

  9. Di says:

    What a talent! You are such an amazing young woman Jeni. So happy to be related.

    Your creative works are to die for
    We certainly needs heaps more
    You really are state of the art
    And of that we hope we take part

    Your daughter Ciara gives help unsurmounted
    She is one on whom it can be be counted
    To give all the help needed
    Whether leather or beaded

  10. Oh, Amber! Your comment has given me a pang of guilt – I really must confess that the shot of my work room (the one with Ciara in it) is a very carefully angled photograph that edits the COMPLETE shambles that is behind me!!! Thank you for your lovely comments though!

  11. Joanna says:

    I love hearing stories about women with children who continue to create and be inspirational in their creativity to those around them. I am 5 weeks away from having my first and definitely aspire to keep that up after little one is born. Thank you for being an example of what can be done. Also i love that you have chosen ‘Aviva’ which in Hebrew is renewal. A beautiful picture, a very meaningful word.

  12. Amber says:

    Oh hahaha Jeni… all I can say to that is that you’re very creative then!

  13. Wendy says:

    I am a great supporter of recycling. What yo are making is beautiful – good on you! You inspire me to keep recycling and use it for more crafting projects :)

  14. Jenny says:

    Just love the idea of recycling/upcycling, making new out of old appeals to me

  15. Andria says:

    Jeni’s story has inspired me to remember that I can make art at home, whether my kids are around or whether I have the luxury of alone time. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Lauren says:

    I love love love the Animal Magnetism range. Just such a simple yet wonderfully creative way to recycle old toys. Elegant, useful and fun :)
    They’ve inspired me to start looking around the house for unused bits and bobs to start crafting with, instead of buying brand new. Turning trash into treasure is a great concept and is very rewarding.

  17. Julie Lealand says:

    I just love that Jeni is re-using things from yesteryear & thus giving them a second life. I love also that she works in lots of different mediums which gives such variety to her work. Also her studio pic is very inspiring … & the fact that she does all this with a little one in tow!!! Just amazing & VERY inspiring. Also the name she has chosen is beautiful, like her creations are. x0x

  18. Loren says:

    We are such a throw away society. I like it that you as quoted: take ” the unwanted and making desirable objects from them”. We should all get inspiration from you Nd be doing it in some shape or way. Don’t know if we will be able to do it as gorgeously as you though :)

  19. Raquel says:

    Her designs are original, have a really NZ feel/theme about them and I just love the fact that she recycles materials. Well Done!

  20. Helen says:

    I was very impressed by the workshop pic too (especially the beautiful colors)…read recently that an untidy work area usually represents a more creative person – so there you are, if it’s as untidy as you say, you’re brilliant!! And I do love your work. H-B

  21. Susan says:

    Dear Jeni, I appreciate several aspects of where you are coming from. I especially like that what you do, enables us, who are not so talented to display or wear something on the outside, which reflects who we are on the inside. In additional to that, that outer expression (being oursleves; Oscar Wilde) may encourage others, to be the originals they are too. Thank you for the gifts you create. All the best for your work, and your chosen path. Susan.

  22. Tash says:

    Loving that you Recycle, Reduce and Reuse and end up with the gorgeous pieces we are lucky enough to be able to purchase.
    I’d love my imagination to be creative as Jeni.

  23. Alison says:

    I love your bags, and tiny perfect purses, and the featured one is beautiful. Love that your stuff is NZ made one of a kind. Very creative and funky.

  24. Kirsty says:

    The first sentence of the interview says it all, and what got my attention. Very inspiring and diverse. Jeni, you obviously eat, sleep and breathe creativity. and I LOVE the kids squabbling comment. I’m sure during those moments your work gives you great pleasure!! And now I’m going to go look at your pieces.

  25. Sunshine says:

    Jeni’s creations inspire me to purchase my gifts from her as I loved that they are upcycled and made in NZ by a kiwi!! One day I hope to have the time to get my creative side out again but in the meantime I think what Jeni is doing is really great and I like to support people where I can with things like this. Great work Jeni, love it!!

  26. roseanne says:

    My husband has one of her upcycled dinosaurs and loves it! I love the simplicity of her work and her design ethic.

  27. Jennette says:

    I love this bag – it’s perfect for Spring/Summer! What inspires me is the thoughts around letting the materials tell the story – which I think this bag does beautifully!

  28. Ly says:

    The first sentence got me reading.
    “Jeni Dickson founded Aviva out of dissatisfaction with the wastage in the fashion industry”

    Love how she uses upcycled materials where she can. I think every crafter should! Little goes a long long way. :)

  29. Cass says:

    Your gorgeous floral bag first caught my eye. Then to find out it has been lovingly upcycled is a bonus. I love to find things that have been put together by someone who really enjoys what they do. I love also your variety of creations. Thanks fro sharing.

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