I love being inspired by brilliant women, running small businesses, and I’m excited to feature this weeks Friday Future Female, Anna Tizard. One half of the duo that make up Tiba and Marl, who, with co-founder Lydia Barron have injected unisex contemporary, style to the millennial parent bag market. Creating cool unisex bags has earned them awards and some big name stockists such as Selfridges and Harrods. You can find them online at Tiba & Marl where their beautiful bags and accessories, offer style with purpose. I confess to buying one of their Elwood backpacks when my son was beyond the baby years because I loved the style so much! Discover why Anna feels it’s important that the current wave of feminism and empowerment does not exclude the male voice.
FF:Can you tell us a bit about your background?
AT: In my previous life (pre Babies and T+M!!) I was a Bag Buyer for Topshop and Urban Outfitters. Life was a busy blur of fashion, late nights at work and lots of long haul travel. Obviously life is not quite the same now with 2 young children, and being a co-founder of T+M – however I still have a fair few late nights working and have plenty of sleepless nights with the kids! I’ve gone from being on the corporate hamster wheel to running my own business along with my co-founder Lydia Barron, and employing a small team of amazing women who help us run our business.
FF: What does Future Female mean to you?
AT: I’m trying to figure it out! It’s a topic that is on my mind a lot at the moment – I’m finding as I get older my perception and understanding of feminism and feminity is altering. Also having young children makes me consider these topics from a new perspective too. Clearly the current huge focus on feminism and woman’s rights it’s a subject you can’t ignore – it’s so interesting to witness how much things are constantly changing for young women (and boys) and it’s great to witness this evolution and see young woman fighting against ‘the norm’. It really makes you question why it’s taken so long, and when I look back on experiences from my past I’m shocked at some of the sexist behaviour I encountered and barely even noticed in my younger days.
Being a Mum of boys, my consciousness of the subject is being viewed from the perspective of both the male and female gender, and I admit I sometimes worry about how the evolution will effect the next generation of boys. Whilst the #MeToo campaign is absolutely needed I feel that there have been some incidences of seeing reverse inequality now towards men (ie the list that was drawn up and distributed on the internet by a journalist of the ‘Cities creepiest men’/ Womens only clubs etc). I hope the current movement empowers girls and boys in equal amounts, and not to the detriment of the next generation of males.
FF: The recent #MeToo hash tag caught the attention of many women who joined the conversation, what’s your view? Have you been effected by sexual harassment and is it something you are comfortable discussing?
AT: I’m pretty sure most woman have had some ‘experience’ of sexual harassment – some seemingly innocent experiences from our pasts now seem totally unacceptable – and I’m shocked looking back how cool I was with some behavior I accepted. I like being older and giving less of a F*** now – and being confident enough in myself to challenge and even comment now if I witness unacceptable behavior. We whole-heartedly support #MeToo and the consciousness if it has raised in men and woman as to what is acceptable behavior. In terms of our business, we have dealt with some old school ‘Gentleman’ who have definitely under estimated us and patronised us – hopefully this behavior will die out in the next generation of men in business.
FF: You launched Tiba and Marl to fill a gap in the market, ‘changing bags for cool parents’ which you have achieved brilliantly. Do you feel there is enough support out there for women in business and starting up businesses?
AT: Hmmm interesting question. In all honesty myself and Lydia have mainly built our brand with a combination listening to our gut feeling (a more feminine approach to business!) as well as using our initiative/ brains and past experience to form decisions. Perhaps it’s under-estimating women to think we need more support (than men) to launch businesses? And perhaps its a change of attitude needed from both males and females, rather than offering tailored support exclusively aimed at women. We have seen plenty of amazing female entrepreneurs out there who have started their business from scratch! We’ve also tapped into each and every single contact we’ve ever made – be it male or female – we don’t discriminate if we have a good relationship with someone and they can offer good advice! It’s quite interesting getting male and female perspectives and weighing them both up as they tend to offer very different insights and perspectives.
FF: What do you love about being your own boss, and what are the challenges?
AT: There are so many benefits for being your own boss. The flexibility it allows. The feeling of achieving something for ourselves, not for a manager. We love employing people who bring an extra element to the brand and being flexible employers, and it’s really nice working with people you’ve chosen to work with. The challenges are the same I’d imagine every business person to have: the fact you never ‘turn off’, the constant running thoughts going through your head the entire time about what to do next, how do we maintain our success etc etc!!
FF: There is a shift in how and where women work, was it a natural progression for you to go it alone and why?
AT: As with a lot of stories we are hearing at the moment, ours was mainly driven by the need for a more flexible career that could fit around having young children. And also the desire for a more equal work/life balance (we actually work harder than we’ve ever worked in our lives! So that didn’t quite work out!!) But now it’s on our own terms – and the pro’s undoubtably outweigh the cons.
FF: With the rise of small business entrepreneurs, has this thrown up a whole new industry and do you see a continuation of this?
AT: Undoubtably! We see and meet so many woman starting their own business – inspired by seeing other woman who have done this on Instagram! I think Anna (@motherpukka) Flex Appeal campaign has struck a huge cord with new Mums, and as with the #MeToo campaign – women are now challenging what has been the ‘norm’ and are seeing other mums/ females in business and are thinking why should I go back to work when I can create my own empire? It’s amazing and we feel it will continue – you can already seen large firms noticing this and realizing that if they don’t create more flexible roles that they are going to lose a lot of smart female employees.
We love female run brands like Mere Soeur; Scamp + Dude; Mothers Meeting; Don’t Buy her Flowers; Bag and Bones (amongst others!), run by amazing women. It’s so nice to be part of an evolution of female run businesses, and there is a lot of support for each other.
FF: What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve been reading some great books lately with some kick ass female protagonists!! I loved Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. Colson Whiteheads’ ‘The Underground Railroad’ was wildly inventive and powerful. And the ‘The Power’ By Naomi Alderman imagines a world where women are in control – it’s such an interesting piece of feminist science fiction!!
FF: How would you describe your style?
I’ve definitely relaxed style wise since having kids and being my own boss. I used to always wear heels and a red lippy, and uncomfortable things like skinny leather trousers in my ‘old life’!! Now I like to feel relaxed in what I’m wearing – I have nothing to prove to anyone now!! So a normal office day will def have a nod to ‘Sports lux styling’ wearing brands like Adidas, Aries, Acne, &otherstories etc and then if we have a more dressy occasion I like things like Topshop Boutique co-ords, and a few select pieces from Matches or Net-a-porter!
Sending Anna a big chunk of gratitude, for sharing her unique voice, inspiration and advice. Thanks so much for supporting the future female series. For an injection of cool stylish, parent bags, follow Tiba and Marl on Instagram @tibaandmarl