It’s time to celebrate – Felt is turning 15 this month! Since 2007, we’ve been providing thousands of New Zealand makers with a platform to connect with customers and thrive. To mark the occasion, we’re taking a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come and enjoy a little trip down memory lane.
Founded in 2007 by Cantabrian creative Lucy Arnold, Felt is still proudly New Zealand-owned. The past 15 years have shown that Aotearoa clearly backs our ethos; buying beautiful, high-quality products direct from the maker. In Felt’s infancy, Lucy personally emailed individual craftspeople to invite them to join Felt. A decade and a half later, makers on Felt collectively make more than $1 million in sales every year.
At a time when globalisation and global brands were the major influence on consumer habits, Lucy was inspired by a passion for cottage industry, and convinced of the importance of individuals being able to make a living from making things. She started Felt with a big vision, and a firm intention of ‘steady, organic growth’.
“I was lucky enough to see the opportunity, and I loved the idea so much – it resonated with me on so many levels. Felt was never going to be a short-term thing for me. I have always seen it as my chance to make a difference, so even when things were really hard, it wasn’t an option to give up.”
And things did get really hard. Based in Christchurch, the Canterbury quakes presented a significant and ongoing personal challenge for us, while rapidly changing technology (hello smartphones!) and increasing competition have also played their part. Felt was also pretty progressive for its time – online shopping wasn’t yet an everyday experience for a lot of people 15 years ago, and not everybody was aware how much impact their purchasing decisions could have.
“In retrospect, there were changes that needed to happen in the world and the way people thought – about technology, consumerism, the environment, social issues – before Felt began to make headway in the mainstream. And that has really been quite recent.”
The team behind Felt believes that craftsmanship should be nurtured and valued. “Felt supports makers in making an income from their work, and continuing to develop and hone their skills. By buying on Felt, you’re nurturing local creativity, and celebrating Kiwi ingenuity. That’s an epic way to shop!”
As we look forward to the next 15 years, talking to the Felt community this month reveals the importance and impact of what we’ve achieved together so far:
Promoting New Zealand made
“Felt has been so great at championing New Zealand made, it’s a one stop shop for anyone and you really get the feeling that customers who buy through Felt are big supporters of New Zealand creatives. It’s so encouraging as a small business to get that support.” Cat from Natty in Wellington
“I love that Felt has given me the chance to put myself out there to a special audience of New Zealanders who like to support handmade and home grown artists of Aotearoa.” – Fiona from Vosso Studio on the West Coast
“Felt is a feeling of possibility for me. The possibility my creations are out there finding their audience and it might turn into a sale. That I might be able to create for a living. Felt is a fantastic tool to help me. I’m selling alongside other people who treasure that feeling too.” – Samantha from Driessa in Wellington
“I just love that Felt is a New Zealand-owned initiative and has maintained its grassroots values while it has grown into a significant platform for so many people to buy and sell.” – Lucette from Breathe & Smile in Auckland
“Felt attracts lovely customers who are looking for the same thing that we all believe in – locally made, handcrafted, unique products! It’s so awesome that, as a customer, you can just go to one website and find so many different handmade things.” – Hana from HanaMade in Wellington
Creating a community
“My favourite Felt memory is attending a meet up in Auckland and getting to connect with a whole bunch of amazing Felt sellers – we talked non-stop for a couple of hours and it felt like we had known each other for years. It’s such an amazing community.” – Angela from Pale Grey Skies in Auckland
“Working on your own can feel quite lonely sometimes, but Felt provides a ready made community of like-minded makers who are so supportive.” – Hana from HanaMade in Wellington
“What I love most is the feedback I get from customers – people who really get what I’m trying to do with my up-bi-cycling work, and appreciate and love it because of what it is (waste material) not in spite of. I’ve made some amazing connections with other makers here too – some of which have led to collaborations which I totally love.” – Ronja from Repurpose in Auckland
“Through Felt I have met some amazing New Zealand makers and now, more than ten years after discovering Felt, I am proud to call myself a Felt maker. This is not a career path I ever thought possible and I feel so privileged and grateful to be a part of this amazing community.” – Esta from Coast Road Quilting Co. in Canterbury
“I’d have to say some of my favourite moments are when I get wonderful comments or feedback from happy customers – it’s an amazing and special feeling to create beautiful gifts or treasures for people to keep!” – Suzie from Curlicue NZ Jewellery in Auckland
Supporting New Zealand makers
“Felt has been there from the start of my business eight years ago – they have helped me grow to be full-time, making my own designs. I feel so blessed to be in my happy space for a major part of each day.” – Adele Stewart on the West Coast
“Felt has enabled me to reach a large number of new customers. Being part of a quality group of makers gave me better exposure than trying to build a brand independently and means I can focus more on developing and making products.” – Jane from Ironweed in Canterbury
“It makes a difference to little New Zealand maker businesses that celebrate every sale. During Covid my Felt sales kept me afloat financially when retailers were shut, and markets cancelled.” – Elizabeth from Zippitydoodah in Canterbury
“I was able to keep selling on Felt throughout most of the pandemic – I am a full time artist thus it was a lifeline.” – Matt from Liberation Jewellery in Canterbury
“Felt has helped me find an artistic voice in which to share my creations. It is a stunning platform and I encourage many other creators to use it!” – Sally-Mae from Shapes by Sal in Otago
We’ll be sharing some memorable moments from the past 15 years across the month, and we want you to be involved too. Comment below with your favourite Felt memory, experience, or just what you love about Felt. Let others know why they should support good kiwi craftsmanship on Felt!