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BeardyCurls: Online store delivering eye-catching customised 3D Occasion Art

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
BeardyCurls husband and wife duo Charles and Jessica. Photo: Facebook
BeardyCurls husband and wife duo Charles and Jessica. Photo: Facebook
Ann-Tauilo Motuga | Reporter/Videographer

It’s the store that has everybody ‘wow’-ing and bursting with admiration at their memorable occasion art designs.

From customised 21st keys to business signs and plaques, BeardyCurls are serving up breathtaking statement pieces suitable for every occasion.

The online store is based in South Taranaki and is proudly owned and run by mixed-Polynesian couple, Charles Wilkie and wife Jessica Wanihi.

Charles (aka ‘Beardy’) is a former tech consultant who describes his heritage as a “fruit salad” mix combining Niuean, Māori and European. Jessica (aka ‘Curls’) is a former hospitality manager and is proud of her Māori, Pakeha and Tongan heritages.

The couple started off their business as a giftware store and sold their products at markets around the North Island. It only took one customer who needed help with a 21st key design to change the course of BeardyCurls from giftware products to a key and plaque designing business.

“We loved taking on any opportunity to make full custom ‘outside of the box’ things, so absolutely we said yes,” Beardy says.

“We made our very first 21st key in November 2019 and decided to close the giftware side of our business in March 2020 (hilariously a week before Covid hit the world)”

“Immediately after that 21st celebration took place, we got a handful of 21st key enquiries. We made a few more keys after that and the same thing happened, more 21st keys enquiries. It’s a powerful thing, the ol’ word of mouth.”

BeardyCurls Products
BeardyCurls Products over the years

With their business rising in popularity with high demands in 21st keys, Charles left his corporate job in 2020 to focus on taking up a full time role as business owner ‘Beardy’.

“How did it feel? A flurry of words spring to mind but definitely nervous, excited, and grateful,” Beardy says.

“Nervous because we were closing sections of our business, and nervous to be leaving the stability of a secured job and ramping up business in a pandemic.”

Beardy goes on to say they were most excited to be more family focused, even if it means their kids are under their feet while working on orders.

What it’s like working from home & having the work/mum life balance. Photo: BeardyCurls FB
What it’s like working from home & having the work/mum life balance. Photos are a year apart. Photo: BeardyCurls FB

The creative process of creating a full custom product is dependable on the customer’s needs and budget.

“They provide the concept and ideas that they want to include in the piece,” Beardy explains.

“Sometimes they’ll provide a scribble to convey what they envision and it’s our job to mould those ideas and bring them to life through graphic design and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) tech.”

Beardy says the most creative pieces are replicants of art such as a cartoon character or a portrait of a person. The designs he finds the most challenging are those inspired by anime art.

BeardyCurls 3D Occasion Art
More Keys by BeardyCurls

“To replicate such art in our worlds requires a lot of very intricate pieces,” he explains.

“Sometimes we like to describe what we do as ‘professional 1001 jigsaw puzzle makers’ because of the number of pieces that go into some of our work.”

Despite the challenges, BeardyCurls are proud of every piece they have created, from 21st keys, to 1st and 30th key and club plaques, the team are “proud and honoured” to be a part of someone’s special day.

With just three years into their business, BeardyCurls have learned so much on their journey. Although it’s a bit of a cliché but nonetheless true, Beardy articulates that ‘hard work does pay off’.

“If you put in the reps, you get muscles, you get experience, you get knowledge and a whole bunch of awesome,” he says.

“We also learned the importance of loving what you do. Everything just gets better! You’re a happier being if you love what you do and you can easily find that extra ‘umph’, that extra effort needed to push through the tough times.”

To find out more about BeardyCurls visit: www.beardycurls.co.nz

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