I’m excited to introduce you to – for those who don’t already know them – two of my favourite creatives. I met these two women a few years ago at one of the fantastic Finders Keepers markets. Then, just a few weeks ago, I caught up and got chatting with them both at the inspirational Rouge Lifestyle tradeshow, excited to hear their news. I’m talking about Jane and Mel of Melbourne-based online bedding, homewares and art store Feliz.
These two busy friends, creatives, business owners and mums have been running their textile design and production business for four years now, and boy, they should be proud! They have since expanded their range and added new product lines to their online store, including the cutest of prints, which I was very excited to preview at Rogue Lifestyle!
So, take a read of my interview with these two talented ladies to find out how they go about bringing their designs to life and what it’s like running a business with a friend!
1. Where do you go or what do you do to feel most inspired and get your ideas and creative juices flowing?
We are surrounded by inspiration all the time! But I find I am most inspired when I am doing something outside of my normal routine.
In saying that though, I often find myself coming up with all my best ideas in the midst of my domestic world…. there’s nothing like not being able to paint to make you want to paint!
2. As you know, I love the Swings and Roundabouts artwork and matching throws and cushions – along with the mustard and pink fringed linen throws – so gorgeous! Tell us about your inspiration behind creating these pieces?
Shapes convey feelings. My three year old daughter has her signature squiggle, she draws it everywhere; it’s like her tag. When I see that little squiggle on scrap somewhere it immediately makes me happy.
These artworks don’t take themselves too seriously. The layers, shapes and colour hopefully communicate flow and fun. These prints and cushions are in the character Nina Proudman’s office on the show Offspring. We love that. She is stylish and a little loopy, and the design feels like a great fit for that character.
3. Could you explain a little about your process from idea to final product?
The idea often begins from a need of some kind. For example, many of our customers want something boyish that isn’t as literal as the old restrictive ideas for boy’s rooms.
We work towards fulfilling these needs but don’t necessarily have a strict process in the way we develop our designs. We often find it happens very organically. I normally bring some drawings and patterns in my sketchbook to the table and use those as a starting point.
Usually we find coming up with the ideas the easy part (there are so many!). We then test the designs and colours out by screen printing samples in our studios and often refine things at this point. This is the fun part – and we are lucky we can test our products and bring them to life instantaneously in this way. Once the designs are confirmed, we work with our suppliers locally and in India to have them produced. This takes a lot of work to get the quality right – a lot of testing is done until we are happy with the overall end result.
4. What are both of your roles at Feliz – do you share everything or have separate areas you each focus on?
A lot of the time our roles naturally overlap, but we try to keep the major parts separate so we are as efficient as possible. Mel tends to look after the supplier and production side of the business and I work on the creative stuff, stock management, website development.
There is so much to it – as most people know – but I think the key to us working so cohesively is that we are both happy to work hard, learn along the way and just make things work.
5. You have been in business four years now – how have things changed since you started
We feel we are at a great point now four years in. We have built strong and reliable relationships with our suppliers and everything feels a little bit easier.
The first couple of years starting a business are pretty hard and stressful – and we both had toddlers and new babies in that time. If we had known how hard it would have been when we began, I don’t know if we would have done it… But we are so happy we did! The experience we have had so far has been pretty amazing and we wouldn’t change it for the world.
6. Running a business isn’t easy – what keeps you both going?
Creativity, control and customer loyalty. Running a business is exhausting but the chance to be creative and do what you want is pretty addictive. Also, we have been lucky to have earned a loyal following.
We are a boutique sized brand and I guess some see us as their little secret. However, being small means you hear/read all the kind comments and notice the repeat orders. It’s hard work but that is a lovely feeling.
7. Tell us about a couple of your wins and/or what you are most proud of?
For us, there is no better feeling that knowing we are making our customers happy. The emails we get from our customers and their loyalty to our brand is what keeps us going!
8. You know I’m also a marketing girl – what types of marketing have worked best for you in terms of brand exposure and generating sales?
We are small high quality brand and our product is really great value. So, the product has done the marketing through word of mouth. Instagram and bloggers have been the best too!
9. Can you share anything that is in store in the future for Feliz?
Hopefully we can continue to keep our customers happy in their havens through quality and beautiful product! In what shape or form… time will tell!
10. And what is your biggest hope and dream for the business?
We know from experience if people give our product a try, they love it. Hopefully, amongst all the shenanigans on the internet people continue to discover us and continue to ‘shop small’.
And, honestly, we love that our kids are growing up seeing creative independence as an option. If we can succeed our kids’ imagination for what is possible we will be even more free than when we took a chance.
Thank you so much to Mel and Jane for taking the time to share these insights into Feliz. Now take a look at some of their beautiful creations below!