Today, we take a moment to reflect inward and engage in conversation with co-founders of Bird & Knoll, Macayla Chapman and Natalie Knoll. Together, we discuss the ever-evolving world of fashion, navigating careers, and the importance of empowering and supporting fellow women as we approach International Women's Day.
What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion and how did you get started in the industry?
NK: I have had a few career changes over the years – from investment banking to photographer to fashion. I think that I have always had fashion in my blood. My father worked in the “rag trade” so I grew up following the industry and its trends, surrounded by clothing samples, fabric swatches and look books. When Macayla and I started Bird & Knoll, we were drawing on any knowledge that we had. From these distant memories of mine from my childhood, to her experience working in sales and marketing at Workshop in NZ to our own innate instincts on what works for a woman and what doesn’t. We have always tried to follow those instincts vs just trends whilst also taking on feedback from our customers.
What does International Women's Day mean to you, and how do you think we can all work together to create a more equitable and inclusive future for women in fashion and beyond?
From the time that we started Bird & Knoll we have always tried to pay it forward to women. We firmly believe that women helping women keeps an equilibrium in the world and whether we are helping other women getting started in this industry or any other business, there is an opportunity for us to teach and learn from each other at the same time. Its definitely a two way street. Macayla and I both have daughters who watch what we do, are proud of what we have achieved and who look to us as role models. It is incredibly important that we show them how to walk their own walk but still make people feel seen, heard and relevant. I think that International Women's Day is very much about fostering that empathy and empowerment.
How do you balance creativity with commercial viability when creating your collections?
Our mantra for Bird & Knoll has always been multi-tasking functionality, coupled with a design ethos that is a narrative of our coastal lifestyles. So what does that mean? We try to capture that amazing carefree feeling you get when on vacation and incorporate it into your everyday, pieces should be easy to style and make you feel special, feminine and transition effortlessly with the addition of accessories and a change of shoe from day to night. Fit is key and comfort is a must!
As a successful woman leader in fashion, what advice would you give to other women who aspire to achieve similar success in the industry?
Fashion is about so much more than design or knowing market trends and being able to interpret them for your audience. It is about having a very strong sense of exactly who your market is, being organised but flexible and strapping yourself in for the ride of your life. This is a super fast paced industry
What is your favourite B&K garment at the minute and why?
NK: Gosh, that is a tough one. It has been pretty hot and sticky in Sydney lately so I have been reaching for the coolest pieces that I can. Kahlo is on repeat as is my gorgeous Munroe dress from our new collection. I also recently wore the one shouldered Atlas dress to a wedding and felt so special and elegant.
MC: I am currently loving the Rue maxi, a divine strapless style that makes me feel elegant and chic. I have it in a few colours and just love how it can be dressed up or down so easily my favourite way to wear it is with flat sandals for everyday, I love nothing more than wearing a special dress for everyday. I am also a bit obsessed with the Poet maxi in French Blue the silhouette and colour make this a standout dress that never fails to gain comments on the colour.
B&K's Favourite women lead brands:
State of Escape – we have been fans of the brand for many years. I always travel with a State of Escape tote and wear the Festival bag when I go for my power walks.
Lumira – The Tuscan Fig candle is the best fragrance! Almira Armstrong is constantly offering new ways for us to enjoy beautiful fragrances…
Among Equals – We love what Carrie and her team are doing for women in PNG through this amazing not-for-profit. The bags are incredible and the craftmanship is so beautiful!
Better Packaging – Rebecca Percasky is the powerhouse behind this pioneering sustainable packaging company. We are proud to be customers of hers.
B&K Supporting Women
At Bird & Knoll, we are deeply committed to supporting and empowering women in every way we can. We understand the importance of social responsibility just as much as we do environmental sustainability. That's why we have partnered with i=change, donating $2 from every online purchase to initiatives that aim to keep girls in school, prevent child marriage, and provide clothing to those in need. Our ongoing contribution is a testament to our unwavering dedication to giving back and supporting women's causes.
We are incredibly proud to work with Thread Together as well, an organisation that shares our values in circular fashion by diverting fashion waste from landfills and distributing it to those who require it most.