Anna McDonald and Lydia Barron set up Tiba + Marl when they discovered the poor choice of nappy bags available for stylish mums. They decided to launch their own range - Tiba + Marl - available from www.tibaandmarl.com, launching in September 2015.
Tell us a bit about Tiba & Marl?
Myself and my business partner Lydia met 13 years ago when I was a Buying Assistant at Miss Selfridge and she was my bag designer! We have stayed friends over the years throughout job changes: I ended up at Urban Outfitters for 8 years, then as Senior Bag Buyer at Topshop for the last 3 years, whilst Lydia jet setted off to New York to work for Sigerson Morrison, before returning to work at Kurt Geiger.
When we became mamas we were having a moan about how poor the choice was for baby changing bags, and how girls like us and our friends, who would never dream of having a crap handbag, were walking around with crap changing bags because nothing else was out there. We had a lightbulb moment (!!) and it became obvious to us what our destiny was. We thought, ‘screw it, let’s do it’, and it seemed silly for us NOT to create a brand of fashion-inspired baby bags, given our backgrounds and the timing.
When, how and why did you decide to change your career?
When I was on maternity leave with my eldest son (now aged 2 1/2 years) I started to think about what I could do work-wise that would fit around my new lifestyle. I knew I wanted a second baby at some point, and while I loved working as a Buyer, the combination of motherhood, constant travel and a heavy workload would just be too much for me.
It was when I was on maternity leave that we really got our heads together and made it all happen. Amazingly enough, it was being off work with a newborn baby that actually gave me the time to dedicate to starting a business - we were having meetings with our Chinese factory when my baby was 7 days old! It was great timing, as Lydia had also just had a baby, so we could spend a lot of time together, not just working, but enjoying our newborns and experiencing the same emotions and sleeplessness!
What tips would you give to new Mums to help them to make the most of maternity leave?
I think it’s very different with your first child than your second. For the first, it’s a massively special time, and not only do you have this beautiful tiny baby, but you're also learning how to be a mum and dealing with raging hormones! Don’t expect to achieve much in the first few months - it’s hard work!
But as the baby gets older - and your head (almost!) goes back to normal, it's a really good time to think about what you want your future to be. Just being away from the rat race can give you that breathing space to think about yourself, your career, and your priorities. I think your second maternity leave is a different experience completely. Your body has done it all before and dealing with a newborn baby seems so much easier than it did the first time. Plus, with the baby sleeping a lot at first, it was a great opportunity for me to work on the business.
Are there any other business mums out there who you admire?
Oh my goodness - so many! Lydia and I have met the most amazing and inspiring mamas through the incredible Jenny Scott who runs Mothers Meetings - not only have we made great friends, but their work ethics have been inspirational, and the support from them has been invaluable.
In no particular order... the amazing Steph, mother of two and owner of Don’t Buy her Flowers. Eimear Varian Barry - beautiful Irish Mum to Saoirse - and model for Tiba + Marl. Zoe de Pass AKA #dresslikeamum - she's brilliant fun and has great taste in bags. Kelly Seymour, the coolest Mum around (to baby Elvis) and founder of Cult of Youth jewellery - we love her MAMA necklaces. Charlotte, from Emily Grey Photography - talented, generous and a great mum to two girls. Lydia Gerratt, a wonderful lady who just so happens to make great food. Cat Sims who writes the great blog 'Not so smug now’. We also love Anna, aka Mother Pukka, who's hilarious and so much fun as well as Alex from the Meringue Girls - the inventor of Unicorn Poo Meringues - can’t get much better than that!
Where do you shop for baby items?
The Mini Edit is my dream kids store. Alex and Alexa does amazing sales. Ebay is amazing too - we bought our (spotlessly perfect) Bugaboo on there, plus a beautiful Leander cot, and now I buy a ridiculous amount of sneakers for my toddler on there.
Where do you like to hang out with your family in London?
We live in West London and basically just hang out in parks!!! Hyde park, Richmond Park, Walpole park in Ealing. We recently had fun at the Brutalist playground at the RIBA. I’m also looking forward to checking out the amazing structure of the Radic designed Serpentine Pavillion,
What’s next for Tiba & Marl?
World Domination!! Just kidding, but we're super excited about our launch in September. We'll be drinking a much deserved glass (or bottle) of champagne to celebrate that one!
We have so much planned, and so many ideas we're looking forward to realising. We’ve been chatting to some amazing brands about collaborations, and we're in conversation with incredible artists about developing prints for our bags. We want to make sure we are first-to-market with new shapes and ideas - so we'll be travelling a lot to gather inspiration.
Also, most importantly, we want to continue to be thankful for the chance to bring up our children alongside nurturing the brand, and keep the work/life balance concept that drove us to start our own business.
What’s your key product for this season?
That’s a tough one! We love and use all the bags.... What’s been amazing about our waiting list - almost 800 people strong - is that there's been real variation in style preferences. I get an email every time someone joins the waiting list, and it's nearly a different style each time. I think this shows that there's a style for everyone within the range.
If I had to choose one style, I'd have to pick the Elwood backpack. It looks amazing - you would never know it's a changing bag, but it’s also super functional, light weight, and hands free (a definite bonus when you have a toddler!)
So ladies, get your names on the waiting list now! Or share the love and send this feature on to any mums-to-be out there, and spare them the tiresome task of browsing all the predictable, boring and unfashionable changing bags!
If you've been inspired by Anna's story and want to hear tips from more Mums on how to make the most of the special time that is maternity leave...