June 22, 2012
fashion designer bridget mccall
There have been several signs along the way that Bridget McCall and her partner Nicholas van Messner are taking their fashion label Life with Bird in the right direction. The first was perhaps not long after they formed in 2002. After designing their launch collection they packed their suitcases and travelled to the UK, LA and New York, and picked up half a dozen stockists. They have been praised by Calvin Klein's creative director of women's wear, Francisco Costa, who has held a dinner in their honour in NYC. In 2009, following a collaboration with Three60 Design and Justin Cooper they won an award at the D&AD Awards, highly regarded in the design and art direction world. Bridget and Nick staged their first solo show in 2005 at Australian Fashion Week and recently celebrated the label's 10th anniversary. They now have four stores in Melbourne.
Which five words best describe you? Organised, passionate, outgoing, determined, humorous.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started Life with Bird in 2002 with my partner Nicholas. My background previous to starting the label was in photography and styling. Nicholas brought the technical design skills to the business and I brought the styling and photographic component. Since then, the last 10 years has seen us play 'jack of all trades' to nurture and grow the business over the years. Now we have an amazing team of people in place and Nick and I both work as the designers and then utilise our skills across separate departments. Nick is very involved with the product and production side, and I'm more connected with the finance and marketing side of the business.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? That you must never be afraid to ask for help and advice from those who have experience. We've had great mentors over the years who have helped us find the confidence to do things. Often we find we're already on the right track, but sometimes you need someone to give you that extra push of confidence in what you're doing.
What’s your proudest career achievement? There have been many - it's very hard to have one. Probably opening our first retail store in 2010 after wholesaling for eight years. Also the show we held pre Fashion Week at the Sydney Opera House this year in light of turning 10 was a big achievement that we're really proud of.
What’s been your best decision? To go vertical and open our own stores has been a huge game changer. It has really built the brand's awareness and has actually grown our wholesale business significantly as well.
Who inspires you? My mum was a fashion designer who worked very hard and was very successful. My dad did too, but 30 years ago I feel it was quite different to how it is today. I was extremely proud of my mum and I remember when I was about six thinking I can't wait to grow up and be a successful career-driven woman. She has helped me on many levels since and I admire her a lot.
What are you passionate about? I'm passionate about my business, my husband who I get to work with every day, my friends and family. Also travel. I love travelling and being inspired by new amazing places and people and food. I can't not put food!
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Coco Chanel would be amazing.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have many. It's so important to dream. To continue to better the things I already do on a work front. We'd love to open more retail stores, possibly overseas one day. To travel more, and see new places.
What are you reading? I'm just about to finish William Boyd's Any human heart. I've loved reading it.
images courtesy of life with bird