Featured seller: Needle & Nail

Needle & Nail || Wooden Toy Sewing Machine

Earlier this year Waikato couple JR and Dee Rolston took the massive step of pursuing their dream and making for a living. They started Needle & Nail in May, and after six months they haven’t looked back. JR is the genius with wood, while Dee is well-known for her beautiful dolls, created in between homeschooling the couple’s five children. Dee gave us a little glimpse into the story of Needle & Nail.

What do you make?

JR makes amazing wooden toys and I make fabric dolls.

How did you get into your craft?

JR trained as a furniture maker and doll making was a happy accident that completely snowballed!

A couple of years ago JR lost his job and felt so uninspired by the thought of just working to make money. While he was doing odd jobs we’d often talked about making for our living, but taking the step was always a bit too scary. We grew tired of waiting for “something to come up”, and at the end of 2013 JR had surgery on his back, so while he slowly recovered it was the perfect opportunity to start building up stock. We finally opened Needle & Nail in May this year. We are 6 months young and have already achieved so many things we could never have hoped or imagined.

Needle & Nail || Wooden Toy Chainsaw

Needle & Nail || Wooden Fishing Set

Is there a philosophy behind your work?

We’re aware of trendy kids products that seem to be more of a decor item for the parent than an interesting item of play for the child. We insist on making items that look nice AND that a child will genuinely enjoy playing with. We love seeing kids using their imaginations and getting outside to play.

Needle & Nail is more than just a business, it’s our family and our lifestyle all rolled into one. We love this creative, flexible life. Spending more time with our young family was one of the strongest deciding factors in wanting to sustain an income through working from home. We are very aware that these years with our family – all together in one home – are so fleeting and precious, and we hope to never look back and regret time wasted.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?

My favourite is being gifted fabrics from older women who used to sew all the clothes for their families. It’s so satisfying to lay out all those old fabrics into gorgeous combinations and to make them into dolls. I love knowing that the chances of anyone stumbling across the same fabric that has been used in a doll is very slim – it makes them even more unique.

Dolls by Needle & Nail

Dee's workspace

Dee's workspace

What inspires you? Making beautiful things that our kids love inspires us.

Describe your workspace:

We’re so fortunate that our home has a workshop attached to the garage where JR does all his wood working stuff. The kids are constantly popping between the house and the workshop. I either sew at the dining table or in a small nook in our spare room.

JR's workspace

JR's workspace

What are you currently listening to?

John Legend or Bob Marley (I’m trying to convince summer to arrive).

Do you have any pets? We have so many animals! Too many.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?

A tea towel by Little Laneway that says “I’m dreaming of a red Christmas” with a pohutukawa flower. I love that! (The Christmas=Winter association gets tiresome.)


Visit Needle & Nail to find beautiful Christmas gifts for the littlies in your life, and if you’re in the vicinity, pop by Shed 10 and say hello to Dee and JR at Auckland Fair on Sunday 7 December!

Dee and JR have very kindly offered us this lovely mini doll (below), worth $65.00, as a prize for one lucky Felt blog reader. She’s a cute wee 25cm high with a hand-painted face and hair made from boiled wool. Her star-embellished dress features gorgeous lace from a vintage wedding gown. To win this little sweetie just leave a comment telling us what you like about Dee and JR’s ethos and creations. The draw will be made on Friday 5 December and is open to New Zealand residents only.

needleandnail mini doll

70 thoughts on “Featured seller: Needle & Nail

  1. Oh what an inspiration to young families. All together as a team, enjoying the outdoors, spending those precious fleeting years together. Your kids will look back on their childhood with such amazing memories as a family creating, playing and loving. It reminds me of “Little house on the prairie” . What talented parents!

  2. Wooden..not plastic
    Silent… not noisy (the toy that is..not the kids)
    Made in NZ/ local …not elsewhere..
    Well made.. not likely to break after first use
    Time less… not an advertising fad
    Imaginative… not passive

    Love it!

  3. I love that is totally different than other stuff out there in design, texture and colours and that you are supporting kiwi made and family!

  4. I like the natural and upcycled materials they use and their recognition that play is so essential to a child’s learning & development.

  5. You guys are amazing and an inspiration for people with starting something new and creative. Your fresh ideas are perfect for children so they use their imaginations. I have a toddler and am a stay at home mum who is finding it hard to decide what to do with her life, apart from being a mum of course. Do I try to get into my old field or take the plunge into something new. Thank you for your story. It has been a real inspiration.

  6. I love that JR and Dee have made their dream into their reality. I love that everything is handmade and insanely beautiful. I love that all the toys, whether neede or nail have no limit to a child’s imagination. I wish you every sucess for your bright future. Maybe one day I will get my hands on a doll or two.

  7. Your creations are robust and tactile and are something you would want to be handed down to future generations unlike the throwaway plastic battery operated things that flood the shelves atxXmas time

  8. I am so inspired by Needle & Nail’s story. It takes a lot of courage to do what they’ve done! And their products inspire creativity in little people, and are made to last. What’s not to love?!

  9. I really like how it is a family effort. Their kids obviously inspire them to create awesome crafts which then inspires the kids to play more creatively. 🙂

  10. It is fantastic that quality family time is your number 1 priority and you have been able to incorporate you working lives into this. Your creativity and all you achieve is amazing. I also really like Dee’s honesty in her blog.

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