Paul, his wife Aimee, and their young daughter Corinne are the family behind Everest Wool, a unique import, wholesale and retail micro-business focussing on fair trade handmade products at the Saturday Fresh Market.
Paul personally designs a delightful range of Australian wildlife characters that are made in the Kathmandu Valley of the Himalayas.
These felted, natural New Zealand wool finger puppet gift sets and decorations are the result of many trips to Nepal, working with local family businesses there to support ethical production environments.
“Every year I travel to Nepal to design, make and refine original samples with a close team of talented felt workers,” Paul said.
“We make many pieces to find a character that is distinctive and can be made reliably to a plan in production quantities.
“In production the finger puppets are made in steps with a series of small specialist production teams. A robust water-felted base is first made using specially dyed and blended fleece. When that is dry, the shape is defined more accurately by needle sculpting. The details are then needled and stitched on. Then we check and correct if needed. There are individual variations of colour, shape and features.
“It is a time-intensive process and painstaking careful work that I value highly. I hope you do as well. I am very happy to be able to deliver something that is handmade, responsibly and sustainably, without using synthetic fabrics. If needed they can be washed by scrunching (not scrubbing) in warm water, reshaping and air drying.”
During the cooler months, Everest Wool sells an extensive range of hand-knitted winter garments, felted slippers, ponchos and other cosy favourites. As the seasons change, the range diversifies to an eclectic hand selected mix of fashion, concentrating on comfortable natural fabrics, including hemp bags, backpacks, wallets, sun hats and upcycled denim bags.
Everest Wool often has small runs of products, so it is worth regularly scanning his tables and racks for that handmade gift idea or addition to the wardrobe, especially leading up to Christmas. The artisan nature of the designs, produced by small teams, gives them a distinctive individuality.
“The Saturday Fresh Market’s undercover, open-air environment is conducive to a more relaxed, casual shopping experience. It is a joy to see individuals, couples, families and children able to have a bit of fun while negotiating this lively environment,” Paul said.
“I love the whole mix; the regular stallholders, the buskers, the spruikers, the bright early-birds, the parents on a provision mission, the hungover loved-up couples, grandparents, strutters, ditherers, the dressed up and dressed down, reluctant teens, mischievous kids and wide-eyed babies
“It hands down beats going into any multilevel, artificially lit centre full of soulless corporate entities churning out factory products. Give me a work environment where people can be themselves under the watchful eyes of dozens of resident vocal magpies any Saturday!”