Both, Anna and Lydia had very impressive fashion careers before launching TIBA+MARL. Anna was an accessories buyer at Topshop and Urban Outfitters, and Lydia designed footwear and accessories for Sigerson Morrison and Kurt Geiger amongst others.
After becoming parents, they couldn’t find any nappy bags that were stylish and practical at the same time, so they decided to create one themselves and the rest as they say is history.
In only one year since launching TIBA+MARL, they are stocked in most desired department stores across the UK and are Selfridges kids department best selling continuity line after Ralph Lauren.
Please get to know Anna and Lydia through our interview and follow their journey.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT MADE YOU START TIBA+MARL?
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 realised 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.
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 (all metal – never any plastic!), bespoke branded hardware, even an extra clutch with each style – because we want the design to look super premium, elevated and considered.
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 – we saw an amazing vintage Chanel backpack in Hamburg airport that inspired our Elwood backpack. 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 ONLY 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 in our first year we’re stocked in Harrods, Selfridges, Farfetch and some other amazing brands. It’s an amazing 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 we’re received 24 re-orders in a year which has clearly given us an amazing insight as to what customers like, and enables us to build on this success and keep creating. We’ve grown really organically and we are going to carry on in this vein – gonna keep creating and following our gut instincts.
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. You obviously have a very busy schedule.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING?
We’ve worked so hard in the last year – so many late nights, and have had to sacrifice a lot of events, nights out and just keep churning through the work. Though lately we feel we are starting to get the balance a bit more even, so now if we can we’ll relax in the evenings, watch Netflix with the Misters and try and get a bit of our personal lives back with friends and family.
BOTH BEING MOTHERS AND RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS – WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TO WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
We had no balance for a year – but now we have a studio and more childcare its become a lot easier to navigate the balance.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM SHOOT OR DESIGN COLLABORATION?
We’d love to shoot a lookbook 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’re about to launch a small colab with Selfridges – which is quite hard to beat. We also have a (currently top secret) collaboration launching where we’ve created an entirely bespoke collection for an great International brand. We’d love to work with an amazing print focused brand like House of Hackney, using our shapes and their prints…
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING THEIR OWN (FASHION) BRAND?
I think you need to be so motivated and inspired by a specific end goal that you HAVE to succeed. Lydia and I ‘gave up’ really successful careers to do this – so we had to succeed – especially as once you start being your own boss there is no way you ever want to go back to your old job! Let’s talk about style icons…
WHOSE STYLE DO YOU ADMIRE THE MOST AND WHY?
We love Pernille Teisbaek’s style – so cool, boysy – love how she mixes labels such as Vetements, Ganni and Adidas. At the moment we’re lovin’ images of Kate Moss in the nineties – sheer slips, Adidas gazelles and cigarettes, so good! And we’ll always be obsessed with Rihanna, Kate Bosworths and Chloe Sevignys style.
WHAT ARE YOUR KEY WARDROBE STAPLES AND WHERE ARE THEY FROM?
Currently living in classic Vans, Supreme sweaters and tee’s borrowed from the boys, Adidas track pants and an Urban Outfitters puffa jacket and Acne beanie to keep us warm in our freezing studio. What’s on your playlist? Bit of a mix at the moment – been listening to a bit of Churches, Florence and the Machine, Bruno Mars and falling in love again with old Michael Jackson Albums.