BEHIND THE LABEL: Bird & Hill
Hi there, could you please introduce yourself and your brand? Who are you?
Hey guys, Jack & Shell here. We’re the founders of bird & hill. Australia. We run bird & hill. and love all things coastal. Surfing, hiking, traveling around Australia and, living every moment to the fullest and loving it!
bird & hill. started off as a sustainable coastal ‘eyewear company’ and over the years we have expanded into textiles so we are more of a ‘coastal brand’ doing a little bit of everything fun.
Where are you based?
We come from the beautiful Central Coast about an hour north of Sydney.Terrigal is our home and funny enough, the word Terrigal - 'Tarragal' in aboriginal means “place of little birds”.
Bird & Hill Team.
When did you start your brand/ label, and why?
After we finished school we wanted to have the freedoms that weren’t associated with the typical 9-5 hour work week, we were also fed up with buying expensive plastic sunglasses that would be flimsy, break, and ultimately be thrown away into landfill, or eventually make their way into the sea, so we put together a team of like-minded designers and got to work. That was back in 2013, and we’ve been adding more and more unique pieces to our collections ever since.
What has been your biggest hurdle so far in your business journey, and why?
Most definitely the pandemic. Having the restrictions on travel has affected us exploring our beautiful coastline. We travel for a living, gathering inspiration for all our designs while we trek around the country. We’re very lucky to have so many world class beaches close to home to go and work from though, so that’s keeping our spirits up.
What has been your brand’s proudest moment so far?
Probably having Chris Hemsworth supporting us and believing in what we do. He proudly wears one of our favourite eyewear frames ‘Banks’, and has been spotted in them all over the world for the past 2 years.
Chris Hemsworth wearing 'Banks' on holiday with his wife Elsa Pataky
What sets your brand apart?
Unlike other brands we only make a limited number of each product. Our manufacturing, shipping and designing processes are all done without the use of single use plastic wrapping. All our designs are taken from sketches we take while on the road. We also love our unique Australian animals, and you’ll see in our next collection many more subtle nods to how important they are to us.
Tell us more about your current collection.
We have two collections at the moment, our eyewear collection ‘NEX-2-Natural’ and our textile and apparel collection ‘Friends of the sea.’
Our eyewear is what got us on the map. We use high quality plant-based acetate combined with recycled timber accents, all the greenest materials to make our frames basically biodegradable over time, as well as Carl ZEISS lenses.
Our apparel speaks for itself. Basically, accessories that assist each other featuring characters like ‘Chippy’ the seagull and ‘Minty’ the white shark. Yes, we love sharks too!
Limited edition - Minty & Chip cord cap in forest green.
What’s coming for your label next?/ What are you excited about?
Organic corduroy and hemp products. We can’t say a lot, but everyone’s going mad over our sea characters. We’ve been lucky enough to meet some new sea friends that will be coming this summer! We’re stoked for it!
Tell us more about your products: What inspires you?
Imagination. That’s what inspires us. Imagination is limitless, some of the things we think up are on the border of impossible but we’re determined we can make them happen.
We’ll never give up on any of our dreams.
How do you source your products? Or how do you source your fabrics?
We attend a lot of trade shows, we sample material from all over the globe, we’ve travelled to the USA for timber inlays, Indonesia and even India.
Communication is key in getting your ideas off the paper and into your hands.
How do you ensure your production is ethical and eco friendly?
Firstly, we wouldn’t deal with any unethical manufacturers, and after so many years of creating products we consider ourselves lucky to have never come across one. We know the staff on a first name basis and they send us Christmas cards each. It’s a business relationship that we cherish.
9 years ago, manufacturers didn’t understand why we didn’t want our products wrapped in plastic. Today, we believe we’ve contributed to the higher demand for zero plastic packaging when transporting products from one place to another.
Do you give some of your profit to charity? Which one(s)? Why and why this one?
The charities we are close with, are Take 3 for the sea, which is a great charity with a simple motto. Every time you visit the beach, take 3 bits of trash you find with you. We have had the Take 3 team come to our quarters recently, discussing the potential collaboration of our sea characters and eyewear frames to donate profits to helping teach the youth about the importance of keeping our seas healthy and plastic free!
We also give to WIRES because we live and thrive near the sea and we’ve been involved with the charity during the Australian bush fires a couple years back.
What are your predictions for the future of ethical and sustainable fashion?
The world can’t keep going without ethical or sustainable fashion. Big brand names need to jog a little faster. Sustainable fashion WILL BE the only way forward, and someday we hope soon, we will start to see a world with more like minded designers. We take inspiration from brands like Patagonia and Kelly Slater's baby, Outerknown.
What advice would you give to any Australian entrepreneur/ designer who wants to start their own label now?
Get a business plan down, make a vision board, sketch out your ideas, get advice from friends and family, educate yourself, and just have fun with it. That’s what it’s all about really. We started because we wanted to do what we love doing! If you are thinking about taking this career path, feel free to DM us on our insta page @birdandhill and we can point you in the right direction (or even if you just want to say g-day!)
Would you like to add anything else?
Yeah, thanks for the interview, it’s been a whirlwind since we started and we just love what we do. Enjoy every moment and smile more often.
Thanks guys! It was great getting to know you and your story!