Well, the time has come to let go of the teepee tents. Moozle teepees were just about (as far as we know from our research) the very first play teepee tents of their kind anywhere on the market when I started producing them back in 2008.
I designed and made the very first one because I wanted to create an enchanting play space for my little Moozle, our daughter Dolly, who was just 9 months old and starting to explore the world around her.
I wanted to make a kind of Wendy house and settled on a simple 4 sided 'teepee' idea as it would fit into our small house, would be easy to pack up and put away and I could do all of the construction myself without needing to source special parts...then the fun bit, designing it, I knew it had to have flowers, birds, a little window with curtains for playing peek-a-boo, trailing flora and fauna, and just be a bit magical.
The First Moozle Teepee
I'd started a website selling baby blankets, little booties, beanbags, bunting and cushions so I popped the teepee tent on there. Websites were quite a new thing, people weren't really used to shopping online back then. But as we'd left London and set up house back in my home town, Pembrokeshire wasn't quite a window to the world.
This was before Instagram, before Facebook business (Facebook was just getting going, people were finding old friends, or trying to avoid them).
We had a change in circumstances, we needed to move (quickly) for Den's new job...to Amsterdam. At first we thought it would be a temporary, our Dutch adventure with now 2 year old little Doll-face. It was fun, but it became evident we'd need to stay longer (the UK economy was still not stable for us free-lance designers), so I started to make more tent designs as they were beginning to get noticed on my Etsy shop. I worked every evening when Dolls was in bed, every minute I could.
Slowly the orders started coming in and before I know it there was no time for anything other than making the teepees.
My Etsy shop was buzzing, I'd never advertised yet I couldn't keep up with demand.
I found a local sewing business who started making the plain teepees for me, a kind Turkish man who would deliver bags of teepees to me and strange fruit and Turkish treats for the kids. My wonderful neighbour let me use her storage room for my stock. Friends would come for 'cuttings and coffee' mornings, cutting out the appliqué pieces whilst I sewed, and the kids were in pre-school until 12pm, it was a real cottage industry and so gezellig (cosy in Dutch). I considered the local post office team my work colleagues, we saw each other nearly daily "how many parcels today Kate?". they saw Dolly grow, they saw Dexter grow, first in my belly and then in the Baby Bjorn and then eventually he'd try and carry a teepee to the counter himself. I have a picture of him somewhere, asleep on the post office counter, he fell asleep in the cargo bike on the way there so I carried him and the teepee parcels!
Moozle Teepee Selection
2014. It changed practically over night. Etsy changed their business module to promote shopping local, a good thing for the planet but I wasn't prepared, 80% of my business was US and Canadian orders. Etsy opened up the site to 'small manufacturers, not just crafts people and individuals. When I started there was 1 page of 'kids teepees' listed on Etsy, now there were 250+
The Post Office Run
I was getting out priced by Chinese, Polish and Romanian producers, I couldn't compete with the prices and I was tired. I needed a break, we were exhausted of working all hours (Den sanded countless teepee poles after office hours), I tried to scale up by using a Polish factory only to find my exact teepee pattern copied and produced and wholesaled by a 'new' Polish brand.
I was finding my photos on Alibaba, they were trying to sell me my own designs! I still find my exact copies of my designs on Amazon, who say I don't have enough evidence to prove they're mine. I've kept my 'Butterflies and Bunnies' teepee up on the website (even though it's sold out) just so I have a connection to the design, you can Google trace it back to me, or through my Etsy sold orders way way back. I contacted a lawyer, it would be €2,000 to send a legal letter to the company in China copying my designs and they would probably ignore it, was the advice.
So, onwards and upwards! I'm not complaining, just stating facts. Everyone wants to earn a living, I'm lucky to be able to do what I love as a job. Which is designing textile prints...and so the bedding has developed as a natural progression of my love of using textiles to enhance an environment, and I've learned and evolved with it. Finding my style, my love of vintage 60's and 70's prints, florals and a quirky element (I used many such vintage fabrics in my teepee appliqués), I'm still learning, each collection I love more than the last and I'm excited to see where my design journey takes me. Thank you for being part of the ride.
It's funny, when I was about 20 years old and applying to go to Harrow College/University of Westminster (I still remember my interview outfit, black velvet catsuit, Dr. Martens black boots, a cute little faux fur leopard crop jacket I'd borrowed from a friend, and my big curly red hair, looked like a lollipop back then), the head of the course turned to me at the end of the interview and said "Are you sure you wouldn't rather be on a textile design course?".
And here we are. It's just taken a while. x