We are JR (Jeremy) and Dee Rolston, and at the beginning of May 2014 we took the massive step of pursuing a long-talked about dream of making for our living and began our business called "Needle & Nail". JR's the genius with wood, and I potter about making dolls with old pieces of fabric in between homeschooling our 6 children and the usual mother-chores.
But Needle & Nail isn't just wooden toys and a few dolls. Needle & Nail is our family, lifestyle, faith and creativity all rolled into one. Everything that we make, sell and send out arrives at our customers with a whole lot of us included. Spending more time with our young family has been one of the strongest deciding factors in wanting to sustain an income through working from home. We are very aware that these years with our family - all together in one home - are so fleeting and precious, and we hope to never look back and regret time wasted. These truly are the days of miracle and wonder.
Thank you for supporting us in pursuing our dreams,JR, Dee, Jada, Ty, Monte, Danny, Sawyer & Willa xx
(Photo by Sam Mothersole Photography)
What did you and JR do before children and how did you meet?
JR and I hung out in the same group of friends - we started going out when I was 18 and he was 22. By the time we got married a couple of years later JR had his own furniture making business with his cousin and I was finishing up post-grad studies in ESOL teaching. We went to South Korea and taught English (in our fake American accents!) for a few years until I became pregnant with our first baby and came home via Europe.

Where did you both learn your crafts? How did you get into your crafts?
JR: Taking a raw plank of wood and turning it into a beautiful, functional item really is second nature for JR. In fact his very earliest memory is banging in nails on a building site with his dad's black rubber handled claw hammer when he was just 2. Fast forward to tertiary education where he came top in New Zealand for cabinet making in not only Trade Certificate, but Advanced Trade Certificate the following year also!
Dee: my mum was a professional dressmaker and made magic happen with a sewing machine. Because it was always easier - and would turn out better - if my mum did the sewing, I didn't start sewing for myself until I was almost 30. I was right into blog tutorials at the time and found a free pattern for a doll. My favourite part of the creative process is nutting out a design solution, so from that one doll I kept changing and designing and tweaking until someone suggested I started a Facebook page for my dolls. It snowballed from there.

What does an 'average' day look like at your house? Breakfast then JR heads out to workshop while we do chores (we rotate them weekly) The two younger boys usually hang out with dad in the workshop drilling holes and banging nails into scrap wood while the oldest three do their school work, We finish up at lunch time then try to have an hour quiet/reading time while Sawyer sleeps. The kids spend the afternoons doing imaginary play/adventuring/making until about 4:00 when they do a few pre-dinner chores (picking up toys, folding laundry, etc) then JR finishes up at about 4:30 and plays cricket, Lego or Barbies with kids until dinner time. After dinner it's bath, story, bed. The evening is when I usually do most of my creative work, but often I'm too shattered to do more than sit stunned on the couch!  

What inspires you?
It sounds cliche, but our kids do! We've found that there is a plethora of handmade items for girls, but not so many options for the boys - especially beyond the toddler years. So JR's wooden products are refined versions of toys he has made for our own boys.  For a very long time handmade items have had a reputation as being 'second-rate' but seeing our kids fast asleep with a handmade doll, or posting notes of encouragement to each other in their mailboxes, or heading off for a 'hunt' with their toy rifles and knowing that they are truly enjoying something that you have made for them (from start to finish) is very motivating.