Interview with TIBA + MARL founders Anna and Lydia : Designer baby changing bag brand Tiba + Marl was created in 2015 to provide practical yet stylish designer baby bags for parents.
We spoke to founders Anna Tizard and Lydia Barron, about their contemporary collection and life as working mothers. They discuss the inspiration behind the brand, and talk us through their top picks from their current collection.
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Describe Tiba + Marl in three words.
Lydia: Modern. Innovative. Different.
What’s the meaning behind the name ‘Tiba + Marl’?
Anna: The brand name is a blend of initials from both of our surnames and our first children’s names. We wanted a brand name that was contemporary and strong-sounding, but at the same time meant something to us. All of our bags are named after our kids or family members, and our best-selling Miko Bumbag is named after a friend’s Bull Terrier puppy.
What’s it like to work together, do you both bring something different to the brand?
Anna: Our career in fashion and retail spans a combined 20 years, so we both have a few tricks up our sleeves! Lydia comes from a design background and I was a Bag Buyer for Topshop and Urban Outfitters. Even though we work collaboratively on everything to do with the brand, we both have different skills and it obviously makes sense to play to our strengths. But we much prefer working together than solo, so we really try to both do a little bit of everything – and we have such a strong combined mutual vision of our brand identity that it works well (luckily!).
Lydia: We both constantly come up with ideas for things - discussing new shapes, colours, trends, materials, new features etc together. We pretty much work from the conception of each Tiba + Marl changing bag, all the way through to selling as a duo - it’s really fun and collaborative. I then produce all the technical drawings for the factory and deal with the sampling, and Anna handles our orders and dealing with the factory.
Your baby bags are both practical and stylish. What inspires a new design?
Anna: Working long hours and balancing family life, we have to make sure we can find inspiration as liberally as possible, in sometimes unexpected locations. We saw an amazing vintage Chanel backpack in Hamburg airport that inspired our bestselling Elwood backpack. We keep our eyes peeled wherever we go, even if it’s locally in Harsleden or Acton, checking out what people are wearing, reading and 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.
You describe your bags as ‘accessories for modern parents’. How do you make sure that your designs appeal to both Mums and Dads?
Lydia: The fact that a Tiba + Marl changing bag looks nothing like traditional baby bags is one of the most impactful things about our brand. The unisex element is incredibly important to us, and woven into our brand DNA. It was one of our key objectives when we came up with the idea for the brand. We wanted to make sure we also catered for/thought of stay-at-home dads and same-sex parents, along with creating bags that could be used by both parents seamlessly. One of the key things we noticed when we launched is that dads were simply not catered for and we wanted to change that.
Running a business and raising a family is hard work. How do you strike a good balance between work and home life?
Anna: In the early days it was really tough as we ploughed all our savings into setting up the business so couldn’t justify childcare costs too. We had to take our kids along with us everywhere, from trade shows to meetings with the bank manager. Our second children were at our side in every Tiba + Marl related activity for the first two years of their lives! Three years on and our kids are in school which makes things that bit easier. Part of the ambition for setting up Tiba + Marl was to create something that would fit around the kids, we wanted to be able to do the school runs and go to the school plays etc. Everyone who works for us is a parent too and they all work flexibly. It was really important to us to create a working culture that enables a great work/life balance and fits around family life.
Talk us through your perfect family day.
Anna: I cherish weekends as like everyone with kids, the weekdays are so full on. Monday to Friday family time mainly consists of school runs, clubs, homework and bedtime, so at weekends we want to have nice days out and always make sure we spend time just as a foursome. On Sundays after our son Raf plays football, sometimes we’ll go for brunch and then head somewhere for a few hours like Kew Gardens, or maybe once a month we’ll go into town for lunch at somewhere like Riding House Café (you can park free outside it on Sundays and it’s quiet in those back streets of Fitzrovia). A few weekends ago we headed over to Spitalfields and had a wander around, Brick Lane, scoffed some bagels and took around a few shops and I even managed to buy myself a YMC two-piece suit and look around the Browns concept store (I never normally am allowed to shop when I’m with the boys!). That was a pretty dreamy day!
Lydia: We also like to kick back a bit at the weekend and return to a slower pace as a family, after the bonkers rushing of the week. Food always seems to take centre stage, so I think my perfect London wintery family day would be having friends over for a long lazy brunch whilst the kids all run about. Followed by our usual trip to the skatepark to blow away the cobwebs, then back home to bunker down and watch a film, play board games and do some drawing. My kids love cooking, so they usually help cook dinner at the weekend too. They love being given a chopping or measuring task, so it's easier at the weekend when we have more time as dinner prep inevitably takes twice as long. It’s fun to make a bit of a feast like dinner, with lots of dishes together that we can pile onto the table and everyone helps themselves. Alternatively, we love popping into town to see an exhibition. The Southbank, Barbican or Design Museum are favourites, usually grabbing a nice lunch out and taking a stroll around London soaking up the atmosphere.
What’s next for Tiba + Marl?
Lydia: We are just about to unveil our new ‘We Are Family’ campaign, a celebration of modern parenthood so watch this space! We will also soon be launching our new SS'19 collection which we are so excited about. It includes an on-trend snakeskin print, a gorgeous grey tumble effect leather bag with gold hardware, and a super bold limited edition neon! On top of that we have designed a range of limited edition sheepskin liners in collaboration with Binibamba, coming out in March.
All images by Tiba + Marl
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