The Two of Us | Natalie Knoll + Macayla Chapman
Natalie Knoll and Macayla Chapman, owners of luxury designer scarves and resort wear label Bird and Knoll, fittingly came up wth the idea to start their company by the side of a pool. The friends instantly knew they had an aligned sense of aesthetic and could create some magic together. While Natalie lives in Australia and Macayla in New Zealand - the distance hasn't deterred the duo from creating a successful and thriving business. We caught up with Natalie and Macayla to find out more about their journey, the best part about working as a team and their biggest lesson learnt since starting the business.
Hi Natalie and Macayla, how and when did you first meet? Macalya: Nat and I met poolside in Sydney at our children’s swimming class. It was one of those situations where we both instantly felt like we had known each other for years and had so much in common that we very quickly became friends. I moved back to New Zealand about 8 months after this but we kept in touch and when Nat had the idea for Bird & Knoll I was the person she had in mind to create a brand with.
When was the idea first sparked to launch Bird & Knoll? Macalya: The genesis of Bird & Knoll occurred when Nat was poolside on a lounger in Hawaii – bit of a pool theme going here!
Nat: Don’t the best ideas come when you are relaxing? I had been working as a photographer for over ten years and was looking for a creative outlet that would merge my love for travel, fashion and photography. I adore scarves – they are such a beautiful final edit, so it seemed like the perfect canvas to bring it all together.
What’s the best part about working together? Macayla: Nat and I are similar in so many ways, but also have such different skill sets so we really do complement each other well. I value Nat’s opinion so highly and trust her judgement implicitly. We can power through so much when we are together but also have a lot of fun along the way – I think we have a great balance.
Nat: Starting and running a business is challenging at the best of times but having each other as creative and strategic sounding boards is what has given us the impetus and continued motivation.
Where do you gather inspiration for your collections? Macayla: From travel predominantly and our surroundings. Sometimes we become transfixed on a specific colour or a texture, which can create a mood or the beginning for a collection to evolve. We love a moodboard too - a visual reference to feed the inspiration.
What's been your proudest achievement so far? Macayla: All the first’s are a proudest moment. Our first collection, first order, first feature in Harpers Bazaar and Vogue, first collaboration with an international brand (the India Hicks collaboration was a real moment!), our first resort collection.
Natalie: It's really is difficult to pinpoint one thing. We're often amazed that we've created this little brand that has such a loyal following globally, and we have done it while working together across two countries whilst raising young children.
What’s been the biggest lesson learnt since launching Bird & Knoll? Macayla: Trust your gut, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!!
How do you challenge each other? Macayla: I think I'm a bit fussy, I blame the perfectionist streak in me – every little detail is important to me which I imagine maybe challenges Nat’s patience at times. Nat challenges me in that she's extremely motivated and such a hard worker.
Nat: Macayla has great attention to detail and can sell and merchandise like nobody else I know! I often hear her talking in my ear and guiding me even if we're not together showing collections!
What are you looking forward to in 2018? Macayla: We have been selected to show at the premiere swim and resort trade show called Cabana in Miami this July – we're really excited to be a part of this and be able to show off Bird & Knoll to an international audience that includes the top luxury retailers in the world.
I usually wake up at: As late as possible.
My perfect day would involve: Family, friends, sunshine, a white sand beach in Mexico, a good margarita, good food, probably dancing and loads of laughter.
I am inspired by: Travel, colour, culture, the beauty of nature.
Best advice I’ve ever received: Was from my Dad – he said, “You will never regret doing things, it’s not doing them that you will regret." This has become a bit of a mantra for me – and I am definitely a yes person, someone who is keen for anything.
I couldn’t live without: Our pets, cats Chico and Lola and bunny Broccoli – they make us laugh and give so much love we cant imagine life without them.
My favourite daily ritual: My morning coffee.
I recently discovered: Aqua-zumba. I don’t think I've laughed so much whilst exercising before.
On my wish-list: A Slim Aarons print for our house. He's so clever at capturing a mood and a feeling in a photograph, I find them so inspiring and feel like I am on vacation looking at them.
I’m currently reading: Sadly these days I only tend to read when I’m on holiday, however I am reading Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls to my daughter – we hop into her bed each night and read about a different heroine. She revels in hearing about these extrodinary women who were at the forefront of their respective industries and who shaped our history.
And listening to: Anything and everything - there is always music on in our house. My 10 year old son's spotify playlist is on heavy rotation at the moment and he has taken over!
My guilty pleasure: Fries with lots of salt.
My mantra is: My husband jokingly (but not really) said my mantra should be 'Everything has a place’, but I like to think it’s a little bit more inspirational than that – so I’m going to say ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway!’
I usually wake up at: The crack of dawn when our Golden Retriever Harriet barks for her morning treat!
My perfect day would involve: A long lazy lunch with friends and family – al fresco – good food, great wine and lots of laughs.
I am inspired by: Places I visit, people I meet and books I read.
Best advice I’ve ever received: There is no such thing as a mistake. Only a lesson to be learned. I can’t remember who told me this but I say this often to my children.
I couldn’t live without: My family.
My favourite daily ritual: My morning coffee at my local cafe.
I recently discovered: An adult ballet class. I haven't done ballet since my early teens and I am using muscles again that I don’t think I have used for a very long time.
On my wish-list: A trip to Cuba. Can you imagine the beautiful imagery we would get for Bird & Knoll there?!
I’m currently reading: Alias Grace.
And listening to: My daughters have the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman on repeat.
My guilty pleasure: Cheese. I have no off button!
My mantra is: Clichéd, but smile and the world smiles with you. It's amazing what an authentic smile does when you are interacting with people.