We continue our series post-lockdown - featuring talented wedding vendors with incredible values. Created to inspire, intrigue and showcase how truly amazing New Zealand small businesses and their founders are.
Next up is Claire Nieuwoudt from Stitched - Maker of beautiful handmade Ties, Bow Ties and Braces.
Stitched started like all good things - with deep roots in a childhood love of sewing, crafts and making all sorts of imaginative creations. I was taught to sew by both of my grandmothers. First, my paternal Gran taught me to stitch by hand with a needle. She was a real glamour gran, wearing big Chanel sunglasses and showing off her diminutive figure at age 70 in a scandalous bikini. From her I learned to be bold and unafraid of the quirks of my creative personality. From my maternal Gran I learned more practical things like how to sew with a machine, garden and appreciate simple homemade food. From her I learned to stand up for myself and take care of the business end of life by not shying away from hard work to run away with the fairies - which can be quite a challenge for us creative types!
My clients get in touch usually because they need a special item made for their wedding or upcoming event. This comes in the shape of custom made ties, bow ties, pocket squares and braces. Often I get asked for unusual things like matching items for dogs or babies. I absolutely love the creative challenges my clients give me. As much as I run an online store with items ready to buy, I’m definitely here to bring ideas to life for the brides and grooms that contact me.
As much as I run an online store with items ready to buy, I’m definitely here to bring ideas to life for the brides and grooms that contact me.
Every day I realise that doing this for a living is what I’m made for. It’s brought the most incredible opportunities across my path, such as making an accessory on live TV for a breakfast show. Two years ago I was chosen to speak at WordCamp Cape Town (a bit of a geek tech event for lovers of WordPress). I shared funny and heartwarming stories from my business to teach people how to love their customers and rock e-commerce. My love for people and the moments that matter to them really drives the passion and creativity behind my business.
More recently I had an opportunity to make a tie for the Prime Minister of New Zealand, who gifted the tie to the Finance Minister for the 2020 budget speech. Jacinda Ardern is such a hero of mine, my heart literally exploded and it was a challenge to sew straight I was so excited and nervous. She was even asked about the tie by the media (see here) and I just about fell over watching her talk about something I had made. I constantly find myself humbled to be trusted by my clients to make things for them. I’m a firm believer that the little details matter.
I had an opportunity to make a tie for the Prime Minister of New Zealand, who gifted the tie to the Finance Minister for the 2020 budget speech.
The greatest challenge we are all facing is to better manage our natural resources. Fabric manufacture is a very water-intensive process. I try source fabrics at vintage markets or ‘de-stashes’ where people sell their unused fabric to other crafters. I have also taken an eco approach to my bow tie design where I use 50% less fabric than a traditional bow tie, but without sacrificing the style and look of the item. My clients choose the things I make over cheap imports because a handmade, quality item really is for keeps. We’re not supposed to just buy a cheap thing to wear once and then throw it away. Those choices are quickly falling out of favour as people value small businesses more and more. The movement behind “I made your clothes” has done so much to highlight the low wages and terrible working conditions of people who sew for a living.
My clients choose the things I make over cheap imports because a handmade, quality item really is for keeps.
The best advice I have for an eco-friendly wedding is to spend money on the things that are meaningful and will help you remember the day for the memories that were made. By spending money consciously, you are less likely to choose things that just create waste.
I’m really excited to be able to work with clients as we start celebrating life and love again! I’m most looking forward to fabric shopping in person – I’m all about the feel of fabric and not being able to look and touch has been agony. Fabric shopping is therapy!!!
Claire Nieuwoudt | Stitched |