Felicity Potae (Tainui) was lucky enough to have that one special high school teacher that left a lasting impression and who Felicity credits for much of where she is today. It was her textiles teacher at Hastings Girls’ High School, Miss Pearson, who passed her creative passion on to young Felicity.
“She inspired me to fall in love with the subject and the skill, and I enjoyed the whole creative process of designing, sewing, and crafting,” the 22-year-old says.
After finishing high school, Felicity left Hawke’s Bay to spend a gap year in Melbourne. Felicity always had the intention to become a textiles teacher so after she returned back home, she enrolled in a level 5 Diploma in Fashion at EIT. She then went on to the Bachelor in Creative Practice which she has just completed.
Felicity is among the first graduates to complete a Creative Practice degree specialising in Fashion from EIT. Felicity said that studying was a great experience and turned her head into an idea factory. She loved the hands-on learning that ranged from creating mood boards, studying sewing techniques, pattern making, and choosing fabrics to mastering computer programmes such as Adobe Creative.
In 2018, at IDEAschool Arts Festival, Felicity first showcased her work to a wider audience. At the 2020 IDEAschool Arts Festival she debuted her striking “eco” collection, and festival-goers were stunned by her talent. Felicity used only natural materials and natural dye to create a unique earthy-coloured, boho-chic look. She produced a range of brown shades using onion skins, tea leaves, coffee, and cutch powder prepared from tree bark. Boiled avocado skins and stones turned fabrics into pastel pink colour.
For her eco-prints, Felicity sprinkled flowers, vegetable skins, and plants over the fabrics, rolled them up, and steamed them to achieve the desired effect. Other garments were embellished with symbols that Felicity came upon while researching images of the New Zealand Wars. Felicity then used wax to draw the symbols on the fabric, dyed it, removed the wax, leaving the symbols to stand out in the original colour.
Felicity’s first commercial fashion job was assisting with a VIVA magazine photoshoot in Hawke’s Bay in November last year. The cherry on the cake was that the magazine also featured one of Felicity’s flowery silk dresses worn by New Zealand top model Lili Sumner.
Felicity has recently been accepted into a graduate diploma in teaching at Waikato University. “I might have my own clothing label as a side venture but becoming a teacher was always my top priority. My greatest goal is to inspire young students to pursue their dreams.”