It is time to put a new brand into the spotlight. This time FashionUnited spoke with the founder of the new brand Bird. Anja Fijma has designed a “raincoat for the bag”: the Bird Cover.
The journey of the Bird Cover began some eight years ago, Fijma tells FashionUnited by phone. "At the time, I had purchased a very nice suede bag. I noticed that I found it annoying that I was dependent on the weather whether or not I could take my bag with me. If it rained, I did not take it with, because rain is not good for a suede bag. There must be another way, I thought. I had an old piece of groundsheet, yellow wool and a darning needle in my basement. From these I made my first prototype: a rain cover. In 2020, there was the financial opportunity to take the design and brand into the world. My first dream came true."
The covers are made in studio Tailors Collective Amsterdam. "The Bird Cover is made of PU, a recyclable fabric," explains Fijma. "The cover consists of two opposing layers. This makes the Bird Cover one hundred percent water repellent, but also breathable. Otherwise, condensation would occur." The sizes of the Bird Covers consist of small, medium and large and are available in four colors: transparent, black, dark blue and dark green. "In addition, there is the possibility of requesting a customized Bird Cover. That's for instance meant for customers with a bag in a special shape."
When Fijma is asked about the brand's signature feature, the answer is short and sweet: "The brand stands for protection." "Bird is the English word for bird," Fijma further explains. "When a bird has a chick, it protects them by wrapping its wings around them. The Bird Cover is essentially a bird watching over the bag. In addition, Bird goes beyond that: it also stands for protection of women." Fijma's second dream is to protect women and provide them with a better future. "In my opinion, women who come from a difficult situation are forgotten by the government. I want to have my Bird Covers made by these women and give them a helping hand in this way. In addition, I am establishing the Bird Foundation."
The company is currently working on setting up the Bird Foundation, to help provide women with a better future. The foundation aims to fund retraining for women in difficult situations. "Think, for example, of women who come out of the women's trade," she explains. "I want to train these women to be seamstresses, for example, so that they can get a job in a workshop. The women will be trained at the Tailors Collective Amsterdam." This retraining involves costs. Ten percent of every cover sold goes to the Bird Foundation. "The Foundation will be set up in a completely ethical way. Eventually there will be a Bird atelier where the trained women can work. In the Bird atelier, all Bird products will be made," Fijma explains. "The Bird Foundation must consist of three directors. I cannot be a part of it myself. I am still looking for a treasurer."
"Bird is for anyone who has a bag that is valuable to someone. Whether it's a bag of 4 or 4000 Euros."
The Bird Covers are available through the webshop. In addition, the brand is sold at Azzurro Due and Iconic Studios in Amsterdam. Fijma hopes for retail expansion: "Due to the pandemic, we haven't had that opportunity yet. Bird is an Amsterdam-based brand, so I want to be in stores in Amsterdam. Fortunately, I have been able to make quite a few sales through Azzurro Due. There people get a chance to see, feel and try on the product. There is more attention for the Bird Covers from abroad, mainly from Italy and Spain. I reach my foreign customers through my Instagram account, which has almost only foreign followers."
"For now, I have focused on the higher segment with retail prices ranging from 139.90 euros to 159.90 euros a piece. The prices are high, but I hope to reach the middle segment and not only have customers with designer bags. My expectation is that if the Bird Cover is picked up in the higher segment, the middle segment will also show interest," Fijma said on the telephone.
A short-term goal is to generate more awareness and more points of sale. Fijma says she is busy approaching press agencies and boutiques to fulfill this objective. "In addition, I would like to open a number of pop-up stores in the summer, if the restrictions permit that." In the long term, Fijma is also thinking about expanding the product range. For example, think of a raincoat or a jacket for the dog that matches the Bird Cover. With expansion of products, I hope to have my own store in Amsterdam, she continues. "I want to conquer the whole world with my products. I would love to see Bird products at places like the Bijenkorf, Shoebaloo and Selfridges."
Read more about Bird on the brandpage: fashionunited.com/companies/bird
This article was previously published on FashionUnited.nl and translated and edited by Sonja-Maaria Nikula.