Homebuilder who can’t keep up with demand – in 1:12 scale





Selina Reid's son, Oscar, takes a look at some of the IttyCases his mother made.

Matt Reid

Selina Reid’s son, Oscar, takes a look at some of the IttyCases his mother made.

Selina Reid was renovating a 100-year-old house when inspiration struck: she could do the same thing — but take more risks with color and style — on a miniature scale.

That’s when her handmade dollhouse, furniture and upholstery business, Ittykins, started.

The Gordonton, Waikato, mother of two is now struggling to keep up with the demand for her products.

Selina Reid says the work translates well from her background in computer science and mathematical science.

Matt Reid

Selina Reid says the work translates well from her background in computer science and mathematical science.

Especially her ittyCases – fully furnished rooms with beds, beanbags, rugs, small houseplants, sometimes even hand-embroidered wall hangings, all in a small cardboard suitcase – are sold out as soon as they are online.

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Reid says that although her degree was in computer science and mathematical sciences, her new career is actually a natural follow-up to the automation work she did at Fonterra before she had children. In that job, her passion was ‘usability’, designing software that was easy to use.

“It is a translation of that. The facility must be functional. I don’t tend to make them very fine and delicate – they are designed to be played with. And I do all print styles because some kids love bright things, others love pretty things.”

She sews, knits and does all the woodwork herself. Furniture is made from FSC-accredited pine and some recycled wood. Reid even embroiders many of the small wall hangings.

Reid says she can inject more color and personality into the small spaces than renovating a real house.

Matt Reid

Reid says she can inject more color and personality into the small spaces than renovating a real house.

The pieces are made in 1:12 or 1:18 scale and the range includes sofas, swings, bedside tables, beds, cribs, blankets, bean bags, lamps, rugs, toys – and anything else you can find in a bedroom.

The 1:12 scale is more traditional, Reid says, and most craftsmen work on that.

But some of her suitcases are filled with 1:18 furniture. Those work better for Sylvanian Families, she says, and also for Lundby dollhouses — a traditional Swedish dollhouse maker.

The IttyCases come complete with furniture, soft furnishings, wall art and house plants.

Matt Reid

The IttyCases come complete with furniture, soft furnishings, wall art and house plants.

The furniture is made in 1:12 or 1:18 scale.  Most of it is made from FSC-certified pine.

Matt Reid

The furniture is made in 1:12 or 1:18 scale. Most of it is made from FSC-certified pine.

She says people appreciate her work because there’s a “real lack of Lundy stuff”. “And you can’t get Sylvanian stuff that isn’t plastic.”

Reid first created her miniature rooms and dollhouses for the Waikato Design & Lifestyle market last year. However, her business really took off when it was featured on Chooice’s Facebook page (in New Zealand).

She says the designs appeal to “a surprising number of older women” who really like miniatures. Other than that, they are usually bought as gifts for children.

The IttyCases have proved so popular that Reid doesn't have the capacity to make the larger dollhouses.

Matt Reid

The IttyCases have proved so popular that Reid doesn’t have the capacity to make the larger dollhouses.

“I try to make sure there’s always something for both boys and girls,” Reid says. “My son (3) loves doll houses.”

She loves the job.

“It’s the best thing I can do. It’s so diverse.”

Reid sells many of the items separately.

Matt Reid

Reid sells many of the items separately.

She says she enjoys being able to take design risks on a scale that she would never do in a life-sized home.

“At home we have shades of cream and beige on the walls. But (with Ittykins) I’m doing things I’d never dare to do on a real scale, using more colors than I would have done in a real house.”

The company keeps Reid busy full-time.

Matt Reid

The company keeps Reid busy full-time.

The company is not just an afterthought.

“I definitely work full time. Our kids have three days with Kindy and my husband has one day off during the week, and then I work in the evenings. I never don’t knit.”

Motivated by the popularity of her work, Reid has plans to grow the business. Her husband is already helping with some chores.

A bedroom pack includes pillows, a houseplant, a teddy bear, a bean bag and a wall hanging.

Matt Reid

A bedroom pack includes pillows, a houseplant, a teddy bear, a bean bag and a wall hanging.

“We are looking at expanding next year. We’re just looking at ways that we can’t take away the handmade factor, but increase production. We only have a giant table saw that is hard to cut small things on, so we’re looking at other tools we could use.

“But it will always have limited scalability because they are handcrafted.”

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