It came about mainly as a result of our lives and personal style adapting after having babies.. Lydia and I have known each other for years – and have worked together before as Buyer and Designer – but it’s only when we had kids and were lamenting how there were no bags out on the market that we felt met our needs stylistically as well as practically that we suddenly realized that we should just create it ourselves! We were both ready to move away from full time work and non-stop travel (little did we know what we were swapping it for!!) and we both took advantage of our maternity leaves to create our brand and make it happen.
What make your designs stand out from others on the market?
Our backgrounds are in Bag Design and Buying – from High Street to Designer level, so we’ve both come from fashion-focused careers where we had to always be first to market with new trends, we were constantly sent around the world to source new products and discover new ideas. We feel this has had a huge impact on our brand, as although functionality is key, we always strive to make sure our collections reflect our obsession with popular culture, modernity and beautiful design.
What makes your products unique?
We think the fact that they don’t look anything like traditional baby bags, and that we’ve extensively researched to ensure the functional features of the bag are perfectly practical whilst ensuring we stay true to our Brand aesthetic to create collections that look contemporary and trend/design-led, whilst using really high quality technical materials. All our prints and hardwares are bespoke and unique to our brand – we wanted every feature to be considered and individual to TIBA + MARL.
How important was it for you to combine both practicality and style?
As parents we knew that the range needed to be built around practicality and functionality. We wanted the majority of our styles to be unisex so that both parents could comfortably use the bags. Our personal style is quite androgynous and sportswear-inspired, which we feel comes across in the designs. We designed the original collection when we were both pregnant/ had young babies so we knew exactly what was needed from a practical point of view, and we applied that first hand experience into the designs – the challenge was to ensure the bags and accessories were super functional but also aesthetically in-line with our brand vision.
Where did the two of you (Anna Tizard and Lydia Barron) meet?
At our first jobs after university. I (Anna) was an Assistant Buyer and Lydia was a Junior Designer. We stayed in contact over the years and when we had babies we just had that lightbulb T+M moment when we thought ‘OK screw it lets do it!’… Neither of us wanted to use the baby bags that existed on the market, and we knew from our friends and contacts in the fashion/ art industry that a lot of contemporary Millennial parents felt the same way, and we just had this confidence that the concept and the timing was right to create our brand.
What was it that was lacking in the baby wear you’d seen?
There are some amazing brands out there, and amazing designer bags – but nothing that we felt specifically merged fashion and function in the baby changing bag category. There has been a boom in the whole baby wear market these last few years, and you can buy such cool kids wear/ baby products now – it’s good that the market got shaken up and challenged – it’s no longer the case that once you are a parent your style has to change. Lydia and I and our partners all still have the same sense of style – Supreme, Nike, Acne, Cos, high-street, designer etc – and we knew there was a huge new collective of modern parents who were the same.
Why are you expanding into Australia? Why do you feel it would be a great fit for your brand?
We love the Australian lifestyle and way of life. Your beautiful beaches and health and fitness are the perfect new home for our bags which are not only fashionably fit for mothers, but designed to be taken from the gym to work (or a post-gym drink!). The designs are luxe. Cool. Strong. We have loved checking out the Instagram influencer scene in Australia, you guys definitely have a different vibe to the UK parental scene!
How would you describe your design aesthetic and what are your company ethos.
With both of us coming from a retail background – having collectively worked for brands such as Urban Outfitters, Sigersson Morrison and the likes of high-street giants Topshop and Kurt Geiger – we are both obsessed with fashion, and scouring shows, blogs and street style is in our blood now. We both love sports-wear inspired, androgynous style – which I think comes through in our collections. We love super technical, yet lux, fabrications – and clever design details. We include so many extra features on the bag – double zips, bespoke hardware, even an extra clutch with each style – because we want each style to be EXTRA!!
Where you get your source of inspiration?
Working long hours and balancing family life, we have to make sure we can find inspiration as liberally as possible, in sometimes unexpected locations – for example we saw an amazing vintage Chanel backpack in Hamburg airport that inspired our Miller backpack, or we will take retro hiking details and incorporate them into modern features… We keep our eyes peeled wherever we go – even if its locally in Harsleden or Acton – checking out what people are wearing, reading, listening to. Like anyone interested in trends and popular culture we subscribe to the usual magazines, blogs and of course are all over the catwalk shows for new inspirations and influences.
Within inly one year since launching your collection – you have accomplished an impressive following and are currently selling your collection in Selfridges, which is one of the most desired places to be for any brand. Where do you see TIBA+MARL in 2 years time?
We’re pretty happy that during our first year in business we were stocked in Harrods, Selfridges, and Farfetch, and 40 other amazing international wholesale accounts! Wholesale is a great way to spread the T+M word, and of course it keeps us on our toes, making sure that each new addition to our range is at a level that these amazing Buyers aspire to invest in. That keeps us motivated. Selfridges has been incredible and they re-ordered 24 times in theor first year, which has clearly given us an amazing insight as to what their customers like – and led us to creating a bespoke collaborative range with them, that we are still collaborating on 3 years later! As a brand, we’ve grown really organically – and mainly through Instagram and word-of-mouth. We are excited to be on the precipice of a new growth journey in Australia – we can’t wait to identify the nuances between UK and Asutralian parents and trends and take on the challenge of crating amazing products and projects for both territories!
How do you define success?
Happiness defines success we think. Balancing family and work, and feeling like we’ve got it semi right… Kind of! Clearly being profitable and growing the business is a definition of financial success, but for us that’s only one element of T+M. Its important for us that we feel successful at home as well as at work, and that the whole family are benefitting from T+M.
You obviously have a very busy schedule. What do you do when you’re not working?
We’ve worked so hard in the first few years – so many late nights, and we had to sacrifice a lot of events, nights out and just keep churning through the work. In the last year we feel we are starting to get the balance a bit more even, so now if we can we’ll relax in the evenings rather than ferociously tapping away on a lap top once the kids are in bed. Lydia and I try to start each week by going for a swim on a Monday morning before heading into the office, it’s such calming way to start the week, and we feel really fortunate to be able to do this. Between the two of us in our spare time, we tend to spand a lot of time with our families, trying to make the most of living in London and utilise family-friendly cultural spaces (we are lucky in London that most of the museams are subsidised and are free entrance). I guess we have similar habits to our Australian contemporaries – exercise, brunch, shopping, culture etc – but we just do it in much worse weather!!!
Both being mothers and running your own successful business – what is your secret to work/life balance?
We had no balance quite a time – but in year two we got our first studio – which allowed us mentally and physically to move T+M out of our homes and into a neutral space, which really helped the balance. Four years later and now we have a buzzing office space with our dream team of 7 staff – who massively support us and enable us some work/life balance. Also our kids were just babies/ toddlers when we started and we had zero money in the early days for childcare – but now they are mostly at school so that has helped us. We definitely feel a lot more balanced these days.
What would be your dream shoot or design collaboration?
We’d love to shoot a look-book on location, somewhere like Berlin or Antwerp. We have an amazing photographer who’s worked for incredible brands – so every shoot is a dream with him. We are lucky we’ve already worked and collaborated with some great models and bloggers. We also have also recently launched our new ‘We Are Family’ campaign, where we did a online casting for ‘real families’ searching for modern families of any configuration. We had over 100 families apply – and after months of planning we created a really diverse and interesting campaign, featuring 10 beautifully diverse families from different walks of life. The campaign has been so well received, particularly in the LGBT community here in the UK, where there has been nowhere near enough representation in the family arena.
What are your key wardrobe staples and where are they from?
We both like borrowing from the boys! We love wearing two-piece suits (but worn back to trainers and roll necks or band tees!). We live in converse or hiking boots. If we are just at the studio we’ll prob just rock up in Adidas track pants or Mom jeans. We (of course!!) love an accessory and at the moment are obsessed with Hair clips and alice bands, as well as a ton of jewellery. Our fav brands are Acne, Aries, Balanciaga, &otherstories, asos, or anything on matches.com
What message are you trying to portray?
Primarily that you can have a baby and you don’t have to compromise or change your style. That our brand offers a product that will essentially be useful and make life easier, but looks sleek and you can share with your partner without looking like a douche bag! I’m not sure thats our official brand statement but that pretty much sums it up!!! Once you have a baby you do need to make some practical considerations – we believe we merge style and substance…
Do you have a favourite product?
We can’t choose!! Our bags are our other children 😉 and we obviously have our pick of which bags we use, which can be handy if we’re going on a few nights away and can take a Raf weekender, or for a day out with kids where we’ll always grab a backpack so we can be hands free. Our youngest are now just both out of nappies, but we’ll always use a T+M bag – they are just so practical – and I don’t think I’d ever cram all my belongings into a tiny bag! We use our T+M bumbags ALL THE TIME and loving how cool they look, plus they are really handy – just wear them cross body and it’s really easy to assess phone/ wallet/ keys etc. – or great for running to the gym! Bumbags are huge emerging trend over here in the UK, and of course we wanted to be first to market with a really sleek, wearable version.
What do you have planned for the future of Tiba + Marl
Australia here we come!
We want every Australian woman to know about T&M and enjoy our collection. We will be continuing our expansion into international markets with venture into new and exciting new collaborations with upcoming and established artists to create exciting prints and designs that push creative boundaries and are fashionable and function for the Australian woman.