Feat.: weaving curiosity into every aspect of their business
Megan29 Jun, 2021
Have you ever looked at products, and instantly been filled with a sense of joy? That’s what happens to me each time I browse through the catalogue on Feat.’s website. Their products are beautifully designed, with hints of adventure lurking beneath their soles.
The brainchild of Chelsey Wilson-Roos, Feat. started out with one product on offer: socks. “I’ve always been a little cute-sock obsessed! When I was a teen, I loved buying fun socks and tights, and that obsession, along with a love for giving gifts, was the springboard for the business in 2012,” says Chelsey. “Feat. is short for ‘feature’, so the main aim is always to create fun products that stand out as a feature through colour and/or pattern.”
Chelsey started selling her products at summer markets in November 2012, as well as to family and friends. In 2013, Chelsey nabbed a spot in the ‘Emerging Creatives’ programme at the Design Indaba Expo. There, she secured some of the first stockists for her business. “This was hugely exciting for the business! Some of those stockists are still loyal clients today,” she says.
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Today, Feat. has evolved into a much larger business. We caught up with Chelsey to learn more about Feat.’s journey, and to find out the role curiosity plays in her business.
I love the emphasis you place on wonder and delight. How has being curious about the world helped you with your business?
Curiosity is such a huge part of every aspect of my business. Exploring the natural world provides incredible inspiration for my design process. But, over and above that, being a business owner from the age of 21 and learning most of what it means to be one along the way, by trial and error, curiosity about business practices, helpful systems, and new ways to engage with customers is really what guides my daily process. Without curiosity, it’s so easy to slump into the old way of doing things and never move forward professionally and creatively.
How has your business evolved over the years?
The business concept has begun to evolve quite a bit over the past few years, from purely a designer sock business to a gifting business. My desire is to interpret my illustrations and designs onto all of my favourite products, and the ball is steadily rolling in that direction. My illustrations now feature on greeting cards, wrapping paper, tea towels, pillow cases, sun hats and more, with the focus always being to gift others (or even yourself) with something beautiful and joyful.
Your designs are quite quirky and playful, where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration most often comes from the colours and forms I see in nature. I love exploring the natural world in and around my hometown. It can be anything from the rhythmic pattern of the waves, penguin’s waddling along the beach, birds chirping in the hibiscus tree in my backyard, or seeing my scruffy dog sleeping in a ball on my bed that inspires a new design.
When did you make the move to having an online store, and why was this necessary?
Having an online store was very important for Feat. from the word go. A wonderful friend helped build Feat.’s first online shop, which we launched just before the Design Indaba Expo in 2013. Having the web address on our business cards for passers-by to grab and take a look after the show was incredibly important. And even though the online shop was super basic and had terrible flatlay photographs to begin with (taken with a simple point-and-shoot camera and an old white sheet from the linen cupboard), I truly believe that having that online presence from the beginning was more important than perfect presentation.
How has your team grown over the years?
Supporting local businesses who are already doing great things is one of our main aims at Feat.. We have the privilege of outsourcing production to some incredible knitting mills, printing companies, and seamstresses around South Africa. That said, our in-house team consists of just myself and my husband, Johan, and we’ve just recently begun outsourcing social media marketing and book-keeping services too, so that we can focus solely on our customers and the creative direction of the business. I guess you could call our doggo, Teddie, the third team member and in-house model… she follows us everywhere and poses perfectly for every shot.
Why did you decide to incorporate SnapScan into your business?
SnapScan is such an easy and accessible payment method. I’ve seen how much joy my customers get out of using such a simple app to make payments, and the freedom of not having to carry all their cards/cash around with them at a gift fair or market. There’s also something about the innovation of the app that excites people, so it was such an easy decision to incorporate it into my business.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Self-doubt. I think most business owners can relate to this. It’s quite a subtle thing, but it can so easily creep into every aspect of your business and inhibit growth and success. I’ve had to fight this insidious “imposter-syndrome” which tries to convince me that I’m not old enough, extroverted enough, experienced enough (all of the ‘enoughs’) to run a successful business. I have to pick up my sword everyday to fight that monster, and remind myself that this business has been entrusted to me and I’m the one most capable of making it successful.
If you’d like to share your business’ SnapScan story with us, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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