Growing up, Founder & Designer of Sparrows Weave Kirsty Siddle enjoyed historical trips throughout Europe with her family, experiencing beautiful scenery & visiting local artisans to learn about traditional techniques. These tremendous experiences inspired Kirsty to begin a brand devoted to craftsmanship, uniqueness & sustainability. Working with minimal waste, Sparrows Weave accessories perfectly combine Wicker & Leather with lavish craftsmanship, transporting their wearer to a modern, classic & resort style way of living. X Files interviews the ever-chic Kirsty on her career history, the inspiration behind her Australian Brand, the importance of Style & Sustainability in today's world & the launch of Sparrows Weave Ready-to-Wear collection at Parlour X.
Describe your early years. You have spoken about travelling with your parents as being a main influence of your brand 'Sparrows Weave'. Please elaborate...
Many designers speak of their mother as being their main influence. For me, that is partly true with my mother, but my main influence was my father. We had quite an unconventional upbringing with an artist father. I have early memories of him making huge sculptures to go in our dining room, making pottery, painting huge canvas’, speaking about space, and waking us at night to watch the stars with him in the garden with his telescope. His huge love of life, travel, history and expeditions had a big impact on the way I was brought up. We spent many holidays at historical sites being educated, then the treat after that was to head to the Italian Riviera for some down time. My mother enjoyed this part of the holiday the best and would take me shopping for handmade shoes and bags, which we collected before returning to London. Those souvenir bags and shoes had a big impact on me and whenever I used to see a wicker bag, I had a huge sense of nostalgia for those holidays and always have carried a love of wicker bags.
My style and identity as an artist stems from my father - a Graphic Designer and Bowie lover. Many holidays consisted of scouring historical sites during yearly visits to Italy. Memories of beautiful flora, fauna and actuarial trope l’oeil exquisite paintings, Livia’s Garden room in Rome has always been a point of reference, hence the name ‘SPARROWS WEAVE’.
The Italian Riviera was where traditional shoe and bag makers designed handmade-to-order products. I was fascinated by the basket bags that were produced. Upon returning to London, I would often reminisce about my travels and techniques used by these traditional shops.
The nostalgia I feel when I see a wicker bag has driven me to produce 'SPARROWS WEAVE', crafted and designed out of love. As a long time Sydney resident, I have been inspired by resort style living for many years.
“SPARROWS WEAVE’S Design is Classical, in Shape and, Content.”
Please unpack your career journey.
I worked as a graphic designer in the UK for 6 years, we then moved to Australia and started a family business in hospitality. There, I designed, project managed, opened, and operated multiple restaurants for 20 years, working on the business side each day and running graphics, marketing and design for the next project.
You worked for over 20 years as a Graphic & Hospitality designer. What did this profession teach you about how to run your own successful business & what skills did you carry forward with you?
Design is something I live with in my life, so that part is almost easy for me to do and think about, it is the love of my life to be in a creative space. I love graphics in bold as much as I love soft neutrals and clean lines. One thing I learnt early in my career is deadlines, to work late, and weekends, until the job is done. Being driven and very determined was key for me in my career. The harder part which makes a business work is discipline, cash flow and sticking to budgets. I can be quite flamboyant in my life but very disciplined with my business in terms of budget and financial planning for it. I’ve found that looking after the small margins in business is key and making sure to put everything in to build the brand. I do the job of many people whilst running my business and I am happy to go above and beyond wherever possible. It is not work to me, I love it.
Explain when & how you created Sparrows Weave?
I came to a point in my life 5 years ago where I was in a position to follow a dream I always had at the back of my mind, an unfulfilled need to go back to something that I had not had the chance to do earlier in my life. I knew if I committed to this journey it was not going to be easy but I was thrilled to do something from scratch and have new experiences. I love learning and listening to people, so it was a great project for me to start. The one thing I always wanted to do was to create my own wicker and leather bag and see what journey it could take me on. I had always felt there was a niche in the market for a luxury, classic wicker & leather bag that would be accessible to women. So, I thought maybe I could accomplish this….
What was the first product created?
The classic medium bag. I worked on this design for over 2 years as I am very particular, and, the whole process in this design experience proved to me that focusing on a small range is key.
Your brands aesthetic is considered & recognisable. What was the creative process that led to your design & aesthetic?
I had an image on my mood board of a blue sky and white cloth blowing in the wind. This image to me was how Sparrows Weave should feel. The message I want to send is of clean lines, and simple clothing with a beautiful well-made wicker bag. When you open the bag and hold it, it feels special, it is not a "basket bag” it is a handbag made of wicker & leather with a beautiful hardware finish to elevate it. Living in Australia has had a profound effect on how I see nature and beauty and I wanted to include this in the shoots and brand aesthetic. The ocean and resort living style is how I live my life and I just want to share that love, and, for clients to feel a sense of that.
When did you realise that starting your own business was the right path for you?
I always want to be in charge of my own destiny and create something for me, the timing was right for me in my life as I knew I would have to commit fully to it.
How do you continue to creatively evolve without losing sight of your roots?
I think with what has happened with the world, it is now very important to know what your brand importance is and how you want to continue to be creative and have meaning. I thought about this for a long time last year and Sparrows Weave is now season less. In other words, I only create what I feel is needed, not what others may expect from me. My mantra is always stick with the classics, those are the things that last in a wardrobe. I think a lot of brands need to look at what they are producing and slow things down if possible.
I am now selling direct to consumer and I absolutely love the relationships I am building with clients. Hearing why they buy the bags, whether it be for themselves for a birthday, or, for a present for a friend, I love this contact with my clients and that they also love the classic style with the wicker. I have a sense of what I would like to carry or wear for the coming months and if that sense and imagery still stays with me I will then work on creating that process. The beauty of being season less is I have no pressure and only design what I feel is right.
Left Image: Kirsty wears the Sparrows Weave Button Up Shirt in Black and Tailored Shorts in Black from Parlour X.
Talk us through the importance of sustainability in your business. Sparrows Weave’s philosophy is based around creating smaller production runs & sourcing/manufacturing ethically. Was this an important factor when beginning Sparrows Weave?
Sustainability is very important to me, it is definitely something we all need more education from and we learn more as time goes on. It was very important for me to know where the wicker comes from, for it to have its own documentation to be able to travel overseas, and, for it to be traced back to its source. My bags are made in a small sample room, all hand made, and I have a great relationship with my maker and his family.
Do you have a favourite Sparrows Weave piece?
The Classic Medium bag in Tan is my favourite, paired with The White Balloon dress.
Have you had to change the way you operate your business as a result of COVID-19?
The pandemic was a changing point for me of course and I pulled the business back and retreated so I could think and I knew I had to evolve in a way that worked with minimal waste, stop the seasons, slow it right down. If we do not do this as designers and buyers, then it will not stop all the waste in the world. Sparrows Weave slowly came back to life with my own website, working direct to consumer, and, partnering with Parlour X in a small considered way.
Describe your client in three words?
Modern, Classic Woman.
How did you align yourself in the Luxury Bag market?
By designing bags that were of the highest quality with the most reasonable price possible. I felt the niche was there for this type of leather and wicker bag and luckily so did some buyers!
What has been your greatest achievement?
My son Kai.
What is next for Sparrows Weave?
I am very excited to say that we are working with a clothes maker in Sydney to produce a small capsule collection of Sparrows Weave clothing to accompany our leather and wicker bags. I am known for wearing white dresses and it seemed a natural thing to design, create and produce for Sparrows Weave as a way to connect with my clients. All of which are extremely happy to wait for the items as they are made to order, and, wear them with their Sparrows Weave bags. I am working with an amazing fabric company (Wall Fabrics) here in Sydney who have end of line fabrics which are absolutely beautiful, and I am thrilled to have zero wastage and use up material that would maybe end up in landfill. With the bags, we will progress at a rate that feels right to our clients and the market place.