FK talks to Rachel, from Surry Hills store Bird Textiles Emporium
Tell us about your store Bird Textiles Emporium and what things we can expect to discover.
Bird Textiles is one of Australia’s premier textile design brands, producing a range of modern organic handprinted textiles for home, craft, gift and fashion. Our fabrics and products are stocked in around 100 stores across Australia as well as through Bird Textiles Emporium in Sydney, and our website, www.birdtextile.com , from which we sell to customers around the world.
Bird Textiles Emporium, our flagship store, is located in Surry Hills, the heart of Sydney’s design and media district. The Emporium is a stand alone premises…a heritage listed pharmacy built in the 1890’s, with all the original cabinetry and fittings. It just oozes culture and character.
Bird garments are made from SKAL/CUC certified organic fabrics, patterns are designed in-house and hand printed in Australia. Gift wrap is printed on recycled paper stock using soy inks. All products are manufactured using 100% renewable solar power. Bird/Slingfings became Australias first climate neutral business in 2004.
Our collection of exquisitely designed fabrics are at the core of the brand. The prints are designed at our studio in the Byron Bay hinterland and hand printed using water based dyes. We produce a range of over 50 different products to compliment our fabrics, ranging from little tiny buttons to exclusive reupholstered vintage furniture pieces. We offer an in house upholstery and curtain making service, as well as a made to order service for our cushions, lampshades and fashion garments, which can be made up in any of the prints in the range.
When did you open the doors and what was the motivation?
As Australia’s first climate neutral business, ‘Bird’ is a young brand with a big voice and a strong platform for creating awareness about sustainability amongst consumers.
Bird is the brainchild of designer, Rachel Bending, whose work focuses on promoting sustainability in design. Rachel’s work started in 2002 with Slingfings, a brand widely recognized for its environmental consciousness, spearheading a new era of consumerism. Bird Textiles launched in March 2006 continuing this brand ethos, exposing its products and message to a global marketplace. Bird Textiles Emporium opened its doors in February 2008 and enabled customers to come and see the whole range together for the first time. It also enabled us to provide a level of old school, custom made, face to face service rarely available in retail today.
Rachel is from the UK originally, and studied textile design at the renowned Glasgow School of Art in the early 90’s. She spent several years working as an event director for The Princes Trust and the Saatchi group in London before emigrating to Australia in 2001 and combined her passion for the environment with her training in design to create Bird.
What labels & product do you stock and what are you always searching for?
With so many products in our own ranges, the core stock in the Emporium are products from our own label. For home sewers and crafters we sell Bird fabric by the metre, as remnant craft packs, bias binding and fat quarters as well as buttons and brooches. For non sewers a wide range of our own home, gift and fashion available made to order in our fabrics.
In addition, there are a few choice offerings from some of our favourite friends and colloborators. We are the only stockist in Australia holding current and back issues of the entire Dumbo Feather magazine collection. We have a small selection of books by book illustrator and write, Emma Magenta. Collaborative works between Zaishu and Bird, and shortly we will be stocking some gorgeous Find me Keep Me brooches.
What is your favourite part of the shop?
I love the dispensing department sign because it throws back to another era when the shop was being used as a pharmacy. The sign leads through to where we make up orders and store extra stock, so its still a dispensing department of sorts. I just love that we have taken something old and beautiufl and given it a new lease of life.
When you are not in your shop, what are you usually doing in Sydney?
When I’m not in the shop in Sydney, I’m at our home and studio on the edge of the rainforest in the Byron Bay hinterland. When I’m not designing or running around like a headless chook making Bird happen, I’m pottering in the veggie garden, hanging out with the queenie and the nana’s (our real live chooks), or making special little outfits for the newest member of the Bird family….who is due to hatch in early October.
What advice would you give to others wanting to open their own store?
Follow your dream, tell people your story, have integrity, individuality and style in all that you do and people will come.
All the specific details;
380 Cleveland Street,
Surry Hills, Sydney NSW 2010.
Phone: 02 8399 0230
Tuesday – Friday 10am-6pm
What a lovely, inspirational interview. As always, Bird rocks!