Flour, sugar, spices… all essential ingredients for a well-stocked kitchen, so what’s missing? The answer, of course, is an apron.
I’ve been baking since I was very young, and ruining clothes with spills, slips, and general messiness for just as long. I’m embarrassed to say that only recently did I discover the virtues of a good apron, but the concept of protecting your clothes from batter, paint, and gardening supplies is nothing new to Courtney Robinson, founder of Brooklyn-based Birdkage. Crafted right in NYC, Birdkage aprons are a sight to behold, made from sturdy fabric that marries fashion with function. In fact, we brought a few along on our recent trip to Richmond, VA for a special blogger collaboration (more on that tomorrow).
I caught up with Courtney recently and asked her to share the inspiration behind these gorgeous kitchen essentials. Check out her interview, below:
Where did you grow up? How do you think that has influenced your business and the person you’ve become?
I grew up in Hong Kong. My father used to design cameras for Kodak, so he was always encouraging my creativity, whether it was photography, art, or even fashion. Even from a young age, I was interested in the latest trend, and Hong Kong definitely played a major part in that, being such a hub for fashion, culture, and travel.
How long have you been in business?
We launched late 2010, manufacturing overseas. In January 2012 we brought the production local, based out of Brooklyn and Manhattan, out of the necessity and urge to showcase the American craftsmanship that is found so close to home.
You attended Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology and worked for a while as a fashion editor and stylist, do you ever miss that world?
Styling and fashion will always be a part of me, and I continue to style on a freelance basis. Being a fashion editor made me who I am today and helped prepare me for what I’m doing now. It’s allowed me to keep in touch and stay active with all avenues of the fashion, food and home world, which helps to keep me current with Birdkage. The people I’ve met, the places I’ve experienced — it is all a part of the Birdkage brand and me.
Can you share the inspiration behind Birdkage? What made you decide to take a dream and make it your reality?
In creating Birdkage, I drew on my lifelong love of baking, painting, and fashion. I’ve also had so many great life experiences, and love so many things in life, and I wanted to share them by bringing them together into one brand — Birdkage. The name itself stems from my childhood nickname ‘Birdy’ and the ‘K’ comes from the first initial of my maiden name (Kivela).
Traditionally, aprons are a fairly basic silhouette, is it a challenge to continue to innovate while working with such a specific product?
There are so many aprons, and great designs of aprons out there. We like to innovate using beautiful materials and interesting details, such as saddle leather trims and grommets.
Where do you find inspiration?
The craziest things inspire me, and at the weirdest times. I’ve been known to get lost in bait & tackle stores! I also draw heavy inspiration from my travels, whether it’s abroad or in the quaintest American towns. I find inspiration in all aspects of the design process — from people-watching on the streets to keeping up with the latest fashion shows and home trends.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every weekday starts off with getting two of our girls ready and off to pre-school. I then try to fit a quick workout in, which is usually a run. After that, it’s checking my emails, answering anything pressing, and diving straight into all things Birdkage. Until it’s time to come home to the kids and start the evening: dinnertime, baths, reading and bedtime. Having three children has made me much more organized with my time these days, though there are still never enough hours in the day!
Where would we see you wearing your aprons?
These days, the kitchen is pretty much the place you’d catch me in our aprons, due to my limited free time. However I have been getting into gardening recently and so I’ve been wearing our wax canvas and leather half aprons — they are perfect for gardening.
Three things you can’t live without…
My husband and business partner, Bailey, our three little girls, and cakes! We bake lots’ of cakes.
Finally, what does being ‘free’ mean to you?
To me, being ‘free’ means being able to follow our dreams in life. We have one life and it is way too short. We all have the ability to create our own destinies, and it is so important to love and be passionate about what we do in life, about the decisions we make.
Check out the full range of Birdkage aprons, and be sure to check back tomorrow to learn more about that incredible dessert shown above!
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