Featured seller: The Adventures of Alex O & Co

Auckland-based Alex O’Connell of The Adventures of Alex O & Co named her crafting venture after the adventure of her own crafting journey – and her personality-filled, colourful, animal and pixie characters are testament to the liveliness and fun she’s found along the way. Working mainly in felt and wool blankets, she creates decor items, accessories and Christmas decorations that are sure to bring a smile.

alexoandco title

What do you make?
I make homewares such as cushions and purses from recycled wool blankets, that have been appliquéd with wool blend felt and lined or backed with 100% cotton fabrics. I like to take old wool blankets and upcycle them to something new, useful and beautiful. I also make crafts with felt such as my Special Hearts and Pixie ranges.

How did you get into your craft?
When my son was four years old I joined a craft group to learn something new and to meet other mothers. Before this I had done very little hand sewing. I started making toys for my son and for his friends as birthday presents. Then people started offering to pay me to make toys for their children. The next thing I knew I was having a market stall at the Devonport Market and I needed a name for my label. The craft sewing had started as an adventure into trying something new and it had just grown so thus the name The Adventures of Alex O & Co.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Not really. I was basically taught the old fashioned way by attending a craft group with other women sitting around chatting and sharing skills. As my love for hand sewing grew I have read books and basically Googled and watched YouTube clips on anything that I wanted to learn.

For Felt

For Felt 2


alexoandco panda bear cushions

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite materials are felt, and wool blankets. I want my designs to not only look beautiful or quirky but to feel beautiful as well.

Whenever I have a market stall people are constantly picking up and feeling my designs. People often rub the hottie covers against their faces and say things like “That feels great!” or “That’s so soft!” I love that people get pleasure out of my designs.

If I could, I would hand sew all my designs, which is what I did in the early days. I personally get such joy out of creating something completely by hand. Nowadays I would be lost without my sewing machine. My designs are now a mixture of machine and hand sewing.

My process is very fluid. I have ideas running around in my head all the time. So I will sketch a design, then I try to simplify it for appliqué. I cut out the appliqué and then look at colours. Sometimes my designs are about working with different shades of a colour and other times it is about using complementary or opposing colours. I just love colour!

What inspires you?
I am inspired by nature and animals. As a child I had a couple of white rabbits as pets – Bubba and Frederick. These two crazy rabbits produced eleven baby rabbits! So at one time I owned thirteen white rabbits. Throughout my house and in my designs you will often see rabbits. I think this is because they remind me of the joy all these white rabbits bought me.

alexoandco white rabbit hottie covers

alexoandco cushions

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I love the quote “You only live once. Live beautifully.” I try to make all my designs beautiful. I want my designs to bring people pleasure and happiness. I try to make my designs functional and beautiful.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Recently I had a lady buy one of my Special Hearts to send to a little girl in Australia who was going to have an operation on her heart. I felt so honoured that this lady felt that one of my creations was special enough to send to this little girl. I love to hear the stories behind where my designs are going to.

Five words that describe your mind:
I like to see my mind as a garden that is full of creative, happy, vibrant, busy flowers.

Describe your workspace:
I love my creative space. It’s a room in my 1920s bungalow that has a beautiful bay window that lets in lots of light. If I am in my kitchen cooking dinner and I think of an idea, I can quickly pop into my studio and jot it down or throw colours together. I live in an all-male household and my studio space is very me… no sports paraphernalia in sight! Just beautiful things and plenty of colour.

Shelved designs in my work room 2

Sheved designs in my work room

What are you currently listening to?
I have Spotify so I listen to a real mixture of music but at the moment I love Skylar Grey‘s voice and I especially love her solo version of I’m Coming Home. So I am listening to her and also John Mayer live at the Nokia Theatre.

Recommend an album:
Passenger’s All the Little Lights.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
A Fish out of Water by Helen Palmer. The story is about a boy who buys a fish named Otto from a pet store. The store owner, Mr Carp, gives the boy instructions on how to care for the fish, including strict feeding instructions: “Never feed him a lot. Never more than a spot! Or something may happen. You never know what.” The pictures and the words just stuck with me – I don’t really know why!

What are you reading now?
Rising Strong by Brene Brown.

Who is your hero/heroine?
I have a few but the one that comes to mind first is Christina Noble, OBE. She’s the founder and driving force behind the Christina Noble Foundation, established in 1989 to assist the street children and orphans of Vietnam. The Foundation’s work now extends throughout Vietnam and into Mongolia.

Do you have any pets?
I have a beautiful nine month old Spoodle called Lucca. He is and absolute delight, both loving and mischievous at the same time. He really completes our family.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Back and believe in yourself. Fear is the biggest thing that holds us back. New Zealanders are so open and accepting of handmade craft and we live in a land of little businesses. So the market is there – you just need to back yourself and put your designs out there.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a beautiful necklace off of a stall holder at my last market. I was attracted to it by the colours. It is all different shades of teal and turquoise. My two favourite colours are green and turquoise.

A favourite quote:
I have two favourite quotes: “You only live once. Live beautifully,” and “Don’t look back – you’re not going that way!”

Special Hearts

What’s in store for the rest of 2015 and the new year?
There’s not much of the year left so I am just busy sewing and selling my designs! Four years ago I set up a business bank account and the bank manager asked me if I had a business plan. I said “Yes, I want to earn enough extra money to take my family on holiday to Fiji.” This December my family and I are heading to Fiji for a two week holiday! So a big thank you to all the people who buy my designs – you have made my business plan and dream come true. Bula Bula!

If you love Alex’s whimsical and appealing accessories, decor items and Christmas decorations, check out her Felt shop for more.

Alex has very kindly offered a prize for one lucky Felt reader of their choice of two sweet pixies (worth $32 each) from the Adventures of Alex O and Co range. To win a gorgeous wee pixie duo, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Alex’s story and her creations. The draw will be made on Friday 4 December and is open to New Zealand residents only.

alexoandco pixies

33 thoughts on “Featured seller: The Adventures of Alex O & Co

  1. I have seen Alex’s work a few times and been simply entranced with her exquisite creations. She has a wonderful colour sense and there is always a touch of humour.
    It makes me feel like a small child again !
    I love how the business grew from small beginnings with a group of like minded young Mums. How friendship and support became the little acorn from which a big Oak grew. She has inspired me to follow my passions and do it beautifully !

    PS Love bunnies too.

  2. One of the most asked about stories at kindy for me to read aloud is A fish out of water! We are now acting it out so I understand the appeal of it to children and adults alike! Love your work Alex 🙂

  3. Your pixies are absolutely gorgeous and I have always loved pixies and fairies ever since I was a young girl, these are beautiful well done! So unique 🙂

  4. What beautiful work, you are very talented and inspiring. I am soooo in love with your pixies – they are timeless and would appeal to every age.

  5. I love your passion for sewing – hand or by machine. Little animals are so lovely, for both young and old. I simply love the pixies with the plain red hats and I know my two girls would too!

  6. I love the whimsical look of the pixies. If I won these they would be our ‘ elf on the shelf’ type friends that would come out every Christmas for the kids to discover every morning : )

  7. These designs are gorgeous. My own attempts at working with felt have been much less successful (but would be quite good if I were 3 :/ ). Thank you for sharing your work and your story.

  8. Adore your work, Love your quotes, Your Pixies are just what I need for my wee shop “Fairy Dust” in Oamaru All the best with your venture

  9. I enjoyed the interview with Alex and her magical creations It is so nice that wool is back in and that this wonderful commodity that we grow can be used in so many ways, especially the recycling of old wool blankets Look forward to seeing more of her work.

  10. I’ve been following The Adventures of Alex O & Co for a few years (and have bought some beautiful wool felt from Alex here). It’s lovely to hear more about her wonderful adventure.

  11. Inspirational work Alex O. love the simplicity and detail. As a teacher I would love to use your work and story as inspiration for my year 9 textile students

  12. I just loved reading about your craft journey & the inspiration behind your beautiful creations. I love the pixies veeeerrry much. Your work has a handmade & heart felt aspect to it which I love. Thanks for the chance to enter your draw. Julie x x

  13. How cool to read your story.
    I’m a big fan of your gorgeous and original work, everything you make has such personality!
    Enjoy your family holiday and Merry Christmas x

  14. Very hard to take my eyes off these pictures. I wish I could touch the designs, they look very tactile and the colour combinations are striking.

    I’ve always wanted to try felting but never seem to find the time. It’s on my “when the kids are older” list! I also have a studio to create in….it’s a magical place isn’t it?

    Merry Christmas xx

  15. Awww! Your little pixies remind me of my two little pixie grand-sons aged 2 1/2 and 1. They’re coming to have Christmas with me (and there parents). They will have adventures in the bush and through the limestone canyons on my beautiful property, just like their Daddy did when he was young. I am inspired to get moving along with my own felt crafting. Thank you Alex.

  16. Wow these creations are magical and a delight. Makes me feel like a child again! They have a certain charm about them. Will definitely look to buy.

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