When I first saw Donni’s needle-felted acorns, I thought they were bursting with whimsy. When I dived deeper into her shop, I found that her felted beach pebbles, tweedy birds, toadstools and Craspedia flowers had transported me to an enchanted planet of wonder.
These hand-made treasures are deeply inspired by Donni’s passion, Waldorf education. “Waldorf is a different way of seeing education. Nature and art are important. It is a quieter, simpler and gentler kind of education. It’s just like how I was growing up in South Africa.”
Donni’s two wonderful children, Kitty and Teddy, in fact, go to Waldorf schools. The two of them had a huge influence on Donni starting her needle-felting journey.
“My daughter’s school offered a class on needle felting. I couldn’t knit; I’ve never been creative; I couldn’t paint very well. But I totally fell in love with needle felting. It’s amazing to me that I could take this wool, and within half an hour, make something out of it. I went home and got online and bought all I needed. I started playing around and making different things. It was just before Christmas, so I made all my children’s Christmas presents. But after Christmas, I no longer had something to do with the things I was making. My husband said, ‘for goodness sake, you can’t just fill our house with this stuff.’ And that’s how I opened the shop.”
It looks like Donni’s Kiwi husband is also an active participant now by posing in her product shots. Kitty and Teddy continue to be her inspiration—they take nature walk and craft together.
When it comes to starting and running a small business, Donni keeps a positive attitude. “Trust yourself, be brave, and know that you can do it. Every challenge I had enhanced me. They are turning points that allow me to grow, because I had to change something that wasn’t quite right.”
That’s why instead of focusing on copycats of her products, Donni chooses to focus on developing new designs to delight her customers. Her newest designs are Christmas ornaments, and you can find them in her shop.
Donni also shared that her childhood fantasy was to be working with horses. She and horses were inseparable when she was growing up. Perhaps she will add a line of whimsical horses to her offering? I am looking forward to it.