Kicks and capers: the adventures of Finnbear

Deb Tuckey of Finnbear Kicks and Capers is the mastermind behind a range of gorgeous original designs inspired by and created for her boys – and now she’s sharing them with you! From her home on Paraparaumu she makes colourful, high quality bike and scooter handlebar baskets, soft sole baby and toddler shoes, and stunning masks and headbands for imaginative play.


 

 
What do you make?
I make a bunch of things, I added Kicks and Capers to my original name to fit my wears into two parts – Kicks, which is my soft sole baby and toddler shoes and Capers – including bike baskets and adventure backpacks, dress up gear like masks and crowns, and a little bit of illustration.

How did you get into your craft?
I’ve always been a maker (the best way I can describe myself when people ask me what I do!). I’ve had a bunch of different crafty endeavours through the years, using and trying out heaps of different techniques and materials. I love to mix up and use different things together, to keep it interesting!

Right now, most of what I make are things I’ve first made for my own boys, when I couldn’t find what I was after. All starting with my soft sole Hightops – my first son was 10.7lb (his brother was bigger!) and his feet were always too big and wide for baby shoes, so I created them to be wider fitting and to open right up so they were easier to get on.

This has been the most successful for me and has been the most enjoyable, I think because I feel closer to it due to my boys and doing so much of it for them.


 

 
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I do have a Bachelor of Fine Arts, but most of what I do I have taught myself, with a lot of help from the Internet and old craft books.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I have so many! But I do have a soft spot of felt and its versatility.

What inspires you?
My boys are a huge inspiration – watching them play and seeing what they enjoy doing always gets me thinking about new things! And definitely other makers, seeing other amazingly talented creative people is such a great motivator for me. I have Aphantasia (this is when someone has no mental imagery, so if someone asked me to imagine sitting on a beach, I can’t, it’s just black!) so I need to always be looking at beautiful things.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
This is something I’ve never really thought about – my favourite thing to do with my boys is go on adventures, no matter where, scootering around the block is an adventure! I really am a big kid and the idea of exploring the world around me and taking the tools to help do it or being able to collect treasures on your way and bring them home is such an awesome thing to me. So perhaps it is my love of being outside and engaging with it.

Describe your creative process:
There’s a lot of faffing about. Because of the Aphantasia I can’t plan things out in my head – I need to physically make something to figure it out. So there’s a lot of playing with an idea, leaving it for ages, coming back for another play and so on – that time away from it gives me a new perspective on it, or what needs to be reworked.


 

 
Describe your workspace:
I LOVE my studio! It’s a great space and doubly awesome that it’s at home! It fits me perfectly, I’ve got tons of natural light with one wall just windows and big old sliding doors that can pretty much open the room right up to outside. Then its filled with floor to ceiling shelves, all full of my bits and pieces – Finnbear stuff, but also all of my other projects, materials and tools in organised chaos.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Has held up for at least two months under daily abuse carrying rocks, leaves, sticks, dead bugs, water bottles, and dolls, and still looks good as new.” I love to hear about what my bike baskets get up to after leaving here and this is exactly my aim for my bike baskets!

What are you currently listening to?
I usually only listen to podcasts, I’m currently listening to ‘Stuff to blow your mind’ and ‘Tanis’ which are also two of my all time favourites.


 

 

 
Recommend an album:
When I do listen to music I usually go straight to ‘Once I was an Eagle’ by Laura Marling. Such a beautiful album!

What are you reading now?
I don’t read fiction, I never have (I can’t imagine the story), but I have always enjoyed a good practical manual. Currently I’ve got a pile of gardening books I’m reading.

Tell us about your pets:
We’ve got one big dog – Han, who spends most of his time, while I’m working, staring at me through my windows with sad eyes, lying on his back (like really on his back – legs in the air) sun bathing and making unimpressed humph noises.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
I’ve always started out my businesses without much of a plan, just starting slowly and building them up. So there are heaps of things I didn’t think would be important to record, but now I really wish I had written everything down! And I mean EVERYTHING! Just jotting things down in a notebook can be so helpful to see where you were, ideas you had, plans, all that jazz! And of course, the big one – value yourself and your time!


 

 

 
Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade and/or locally made goods?
There are so many reason for this! But my favourite is the warm fuzzies you get knowing you’re supporting someone who is doing what they love and you’re helping them make that happen.

What does it mean to you when someone buys your creations?
It’s such a cool thing to be able to work from home and love what I do. My customers are the reason for that, and how I can!

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A little crochet, three eyed alien with tentacles – need I say more?

What’s in store for the rest of 2020?
A mixture of a busy Christmas rush and maybe a couple of events and trying to spend as much time as possible with both my boys, before our oldest starts school at the end of the year!

Prize draw for Felt readers!

Deb has very kindly offered a sweet prize for a lucky Felt reader: your choice of one of these bike and scooter handlebar baskets! (See below.) Deb says “Watching little ones carrying their toys in one hand, while trying to scooter or ride their bike with the other? We’ve had many a face-plant in our house due to the desperate need to take toys on adventures but with nowhere to keep them, and our bike and scooter handlebar baskets are the answer!”

Choose from two awesome designs: the ‘Mermaid Bike Basket’ or the ‘Origami Dino Bike Basket’. To be in to win this great prize, leave us a comment telling us which a young recipient you know would like, and what you love about Deb’s story and her Finnbear creations. The draw closes at 5pm Monday 23 November and is open to New Zealand residents only.

 

Purchase from Finnbear Kicks & Capers here »

 

12 thoughts on “Kicks and capers: the adventures of Finnbear

  1. Deb – I love your fresh sense of style combined with functionality. You have amazing talent and combining a business with motherhood will make you the envy of many. It’s no wonder that you get warm fuzzies from your customers – because you give them warm fuzzies, as well as a practical object. It’s clear that you are offering great value for money as well as the opportunity to buy local and support local. A mermaid I know would love a mermaid basket to hang off her bike – perhaps as a bonus for when the training wheels come off!

  2. Gosh these are lovely things Deb is making. I’m inspired both as a maker and a grandma to a little baby boy. He’s too young for the bike basket but I know another little boy who would love the dinosaur one. He has lent this grandma his old cot and bassinet for our little boy. His three siblings are now at school and I reckon he would love some dinosaur adventures would be fabulous! We’ll be looking at the gorgeous shoes for our little one.

  3. What gorgeous products! My son Leon would just love the dinosaur basket for his new scooter, he’s constantly wanting to carry things with him and loves a nature walk, we always end up with pockets full of leaves and seed pods he’s collected, so this would be perfect! I love that Deb was largely self taught and as a mum had the energy and motivation to set up her own craft business in a home studio, an inspiring story!

  4. I adore the whimsical nature of Deb’s designs. They are functional, fun and funky and most importantly, not like anything you can buy in stores for littlies! My 14mth old would love the dinosaur basket design for his little bike. It would be perfect for carrying around ‘bunny’ who goes everywhere with him.

  5. Deb, your creations are so original . I love how people have the forsight to design and create and develop a most important local business from their own ideas. Ka pai. My wee grandson Heath would just love a dinosaur basket for his bike he has just learnt to ride🦖🦕🚴‍♂️💙

  6. I just love the creativity, colours and design that you put into your wonderful bike and scooter baskets. My three year old granddaughter Lily and family are returning home to NZ from Portland, Oregon in December. They have been in lockdown all year and not able to get out in public. Lily just adores riding her bike and would love popping a mermaid basket on the bike and peddling off with her toys Cat and Bebe in tow.

  7. My son Thomas is obsessed with riding his ‘motor bike’ (aka balance bike). He makes the engine noise with his mouth as he’s driving around. Thomas’s bike has an old yogurt container strapped to the front where he carries his treasures. The Origami Dino Bike Basket would be a beautiful improvement and would be loved by my son. Well done Deb on creating such beautiful products! 😍

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