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Birdfeed: Issue 5

Birdfeed: Issue 5

See the original Birdfeed Issue here.



We sat down for a chat with our good friend, garment technologist, Bird designer, and owner of The Little Stitchery, Nicola Ridd-Davies.

Nicola has worked with a number of incredible clothing companies including Toast and Visible Clothing and with her unlimited knowledge and talent has also helped Bird find it's feet. We wanted to know a little bit more about our very own Welsh Wonder Woman and are so glad we asked. From the lowdown on her favourite pinny to how she adopted her mother's knack for making something from nothing, there is so much goodness to absorb in this interview.

Thank you for sharing with us Nicola! x

What clothes do you wear to cook in at home?
I’ve got an apron that one of my best friends made for me out of a vintage fabric. It's the only pinny in my kitchen, it fits over the head and has a domestic goddess kind of look, plenty of frills. I absolutely love it.

What is your favourite food to cook?
Weekdays I keep it simple and clean - steamed salmon with vegetables, a tray bake with roast vegetables & balsamic vinegar. It’s got to be something quick and easy to feed the kids after school. At the weekend, we get more creative with pastes and marinades and enjoy our treats. Go to meal for a special occasion? Wild mushroom risotto. It costs a fortune to make - wild mushrooms, truffle oil, the best rice, but it’s good.

How did you get into Clothing Design?
My mum would always make us something from nothing - something handmade for a party or special occasion. Back then, we had more time and less money. It was all about make-do and mend, the utility of the process, and I grew up around these skills. In my mid-teens, I would spend my wages on fabric rather than clothes because I was tiny and high street clothes just didn’t fit. I would make lots of crazy clothes and from an early age, I gained lots of experience in deconstructing clothes and then reconstructing them. My standout item was a lace wrap top which was like nothing anyone else had seen before and everyone wanted to wear - think Madonna in the mid-80s.

What are your favourite types of clothes to design?
Anything with flexibility. I love stretch fabrics because they move and are very forgiving. I like timeless and traditional garments like fisherman’s smocks and I always like to include something adjustable, like an adjustable waistband or sleeves which may be rolled to fit.

What qualities are needed to work in clothing design?
You need to be objective and design for your market rather than for yourself.

What are the benefits of good design in the workplace?
Comfort, breathable and with a contemporary element. Clothes enable me to feel how I want to feel, be it dressing up to feel professional or dressing down to deliver a communal class.

How do you carve out time for yourself?
When I can, my guilty pleasure is a glass of wine and a spot of eBay shopping for vintage finds.

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has created something from nothing and is nailing it, such as Annie Sloan, Kath Kidston. In terms of someone I know, it’s got to be founder of Bird, Vic North. Vic is a mother, entrepreneur, and friend with shared values - we both recognise gender equality whilst celebrating difference and see strength in diversity. Plus she has excellent taste in clothes!


Designed for every shape, size, form, and feather.

1. Our trusty friend and NYC scout, food writer Pam Abrams has sent over this link, “Just done two days of floor pounding the NYC Fancy Food Show where I noticed this “women-owned” logo displayed at many booths.” Let's hope this initiative makes it across the pond very soon.

2. A Fish Sauce Love Affair. Why one bottle of this fermented liquid is simply not enough.

3. MAD (taken from the Danish word for “food”) is a nonprofit organization started by René Redzepi that brings together a global cooking community with a social conscience. Their book series, MAD Dispatches, unpacks urgent and interesting topics from the world of food and encourages readers to take action. Their first volume, You and I Eat the Same, proposes that immigration is fundamental to cuisine, "We believe that good food is the common ground between different cultures, especially in times when the world seems more divided than ever".

4. I met Alison at the festival over the weekend. "I’d love to get involved", I said. "You must", she said. "But I live in West Wales", I said. "Not a problem", she said, *our most traveled member lives in Australia. And takes part. Regularly." Reader, I signed up.

5. Non-profit, Waste Knot, is throwing cosmetic criteria to the wayside and saving crooked vegetables and fruit one farm at a time.

6. From head chef at a Michelin Star restaurant to winning the Great British Menu, to running her own London restaurant Hicce, Pip Lacey is taking the food world by storm. Take a peek at this week's Women In Food interview, especially all you aspiring chefs needing some valuable advice on how to get started.

7. In a saturated market of unethical animal welfare standards, Welsh Mangalitza pig farmers Angela and Stuart Mason are setting a strong example for what they call “impeccable provenance”. Our own Vic North had the chance to interview these Welsh artisans for New Food Entrepreneurs. Read the full interview here.

8. Emily Vanderpoel was a brilliant colour theorist in the late 1800s doing countless detailed illustrations and research that paved the way for colour methods and theory used today. These were of course adopted by men of her time and she was never given credit. Until now. Emily's 1902 book Color Problems has been crowdfunded and republished as a beautiful and thoughtful ode to this remarkable woman. This book is one of a kind, giving her illustrations and colours the quality they deserve.

9. This Sunday, one of our favourite podcasts, The Guilty Feminist: Live, are playing their biggest show to date at London's Royal Albert Hall. Headlining Hannah Gadsby with guests like Mhairi Black MP, Felicity Ward, Sindhu Vee and many more, this is sure to be a night for the books. Tickets still available, grab yours before they're gone! 

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