Sharing the love with upcycled Kiwiana

On Waiheke Island, where the locals are united by a love of the good life and a blissful creative vibe, Melanie Wadham is known as the Slipper Lady. Her creative journey began a few years ago, as sewing became her go-to activity to unleash years of suppressed emotions and gave her a much-needed opportunity to express herself freely. With the resurgence of our Kiwi iconic woollen blankets, she decided to turn them into beautiful fashion pieces.

Wadham started by handcrafting a few pairs of slippers from vintage blankets to sell in the local craft shop. When the first Covid-19 lockdown came, she made 30 pairs as she found that it helped with her psychological wellbeing and resilience. She listed them on Chooice, the Facebook group that supports small local businesses and NZ Made Products, “just to see how it goes.”

The slippers sold out in two days, and spurred hundreds of enquiries from people who had fallen in love with the bespoke custom-made designs and embraced the uniqueness of the high quality upcycled products and brand. Wadham decided to launch SoulSlips with the aim to bring warmth, comfort, and soul to other women of all ages, all around the world. Within eight months, she had sold more than 600 pairs.

She now works with a small team of sewers and together, they make the one-of-a-kind slippers, dressing gowns and other unique items. For this season, she has added a limited range of beautiful winter capes and French berets to the collection.

“From woollen cape jackets to knits and classic plaids, capes are hot for 2021. These months of the year may be chilly, but they do provide the opportunity to wear a statement coat and take everyday dressing to the next level. A sleeveless coat is so elegant, feminine and on-trend, and the feedback we have received so far has been overwhelmingly positive” says Wadham.

“It is just wonderful to be able to produce products that so many women are loving, and it is made from recycled and sustainable materials. It’s unique and Kiwiana” says Wadham who chose the iconic New Zealand woollen blankets as her medium because it is sustainable, ultra-comfortable, naturally antimicrobial, breathable and one of a kind. Leather is used as well, again with sustainability in mind – the soles of the slippers and leather detailing of the products are created from scraps sourced from furniture makers.

After witnessing her mother’s murder at age 11, Melanie Wadham experienced years of abuse and manipulation by those who should have provided her with care and love. In 2012, she published her book Velvet Lies, Muted Cries: Silence, the Most Powerful Scream which tells her story of hardship and her journey towards healing and recovery. For Melanie, sewing brings relief, SoulSlips has become an important part of her recovery.

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