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Marceliena sews functional gifts from cup cosies to wet bags, and ear bud pouches to baby blankets from her little slice of paradise in the New South Wales Northern Rivers region

06 November 2020

Designer Spotlight: Birdy & The Boys

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Army wife, mother, hobby farmer and sewer of practical things, Marceliena: ‘It is a great source of pride that people think enough of my products that they want to give them to someone specieal.’

My name is Marceliena and I am the person behind Birdy and the Boys. I live on a small farm called Hillview, near Nimbin in the beautiful Northern Rivers area of NSW.

Marceliena sews functional gifts from cup cosies to wet bags, and ear bud pouches to baby blankets from her little slice of paradise in the New South Wales Northern Rivers region

I live here with my husband, daughter (our son has flown the coop), two crazy dogs, three fat chickens and a small herd of Square Meaters Cattle.

Close up of one of Marceliena’s beautiful cows munching on – and wearing – some hay

We have owned the property since 2007, but have travelled around Australia and the world with the Army for a number of those years, so it’s only in the last few years that we have permanently settled at Hillview.

Marceliena’s farm homestead nestled in a green valley neighbouring Nightcap National Park in northern New South Wales: ‘Our farm is nestled in a beautiful valley… providing a wonderful setting for creating’

Our farm is nestled in a beautiful valley that sits adjacent to the Nightcap National Park, providing a wonderful setting for creating. It is usually green and lush with all sorts of native inspiration from koalas, echidnas, wallabies and many beautiful birds.

Marceliena at her sewing machine in her light-filled home studio overlooking the treetops

My sewing room is a wonderful space; I love it. Previously our bedroom, it is now a big, bright and airy studio. Sitting three floors above ground level, its windows open out to the surrounding treetops, giving me a beautiful view and lots of bird-song.

Organised craft supplies in Marceliena’s home studio shelving: ‘To accommodate the endless need for storage (I’m a compulsive fabric Buyer!), we also installed custom built shelving along one wall’

My husband built an island cutting table, cupboards, drawers and a long three-station sewing table. And, to accommodate the endless need for storage (I’m a compulsive fabric buyer!), we also installed custom built shelving along one wall.

A bright red fabric cup cosy wth white polka dots and carved rose button detail by Birdy & The Boys

The thing I find most difficult with my handmade process, is photographing my makes. While I take a number of photos inside, I prefer to photograph my items outside. The light is usually so much better, but it is the beautiful backgrounds I can use that I love the most.

A stunning view across a cloud-covered valley at sunset in Northern NSW: ‘Our little piece of paradise… provides the perfect environment for me to do what I love’

A natural setting is inspiring. Our little piece of paradise and my fantastic studio provides the perfect environment for me to do what I love.

Some of Marceliena’s fabric stash in her home studio

I am inspired by fabric…fabric is addictive; I love finding beautiful fabrics because I can imagine them in one of my existing designs or they might even inspire something new.

A Birdy and the Boys eye mask in a pretty flowering gum print: ‘I love Australian-themed prints that showcase our gorgeous flora and fauna’

In particular, I love Australian-themed prints that showcase our gorgeous flora and fauna. Although, it is not unusual for me to buy fabric without having any idea what I’m going to do with it!

Marceliena’s work bench covered in colourful buttons and a range of umbrella covers in progress

I really enjoy that a lot of what I sell is for gifts. It is a great source of pride that people think enough of my products that they want to give them to someone special; this keeps me motivated to ensure my product quality is the absolute best.

Green koala print sock covers on a pair of workboot-clad feet: ‘there is also a strong sense of practicality in the things I make’

There is also a strong sense of practicality in the things I make. Whether it is makeup pouches, coffee cup cosies, totes or wet bags, it’s great to know the products will be part of people’s day to day lives.

A stack of Birdy & the Boys fabric baskets in a range of bright and colourful prints

I also like to make a wide variety of products. I confess I get bored making the same thing over and over. I may spend a week or two concentrating on just wet bags or baby blankets, then I will be onto the next item! I am always thinking about what the next new design will be.

Fabric pieces laid out on Marceliena’s workbench waiting to be pieced together: ‘sewing and crafting almost feels like it’s part of my DNA!’

Sewing and crafting almost feels like it’s part of my DNA! I have experienced the joy of handmade for as long as I can remember. My Gran was incredibly talented at knitting and crocheting, and was a wonderful teacher. Many an hour was spent by her side, not only learning and being guided by her, but also enjoying all her exquisite work.

A Joselyn Proust floral print project tote bag by Birdy & the Boys

My other great inspiration was my Mum. She is an incredibly beautiful sewer and seamstress. After teaching sewing in high school, she gave lessons in our home. She taught me everything I know, and she continues to be a guiding voice in my head!

Marceliena’s first project from aged 9, a blue t-shirt to which she applied an Elvis iron-on transfer print; ‘One of the first things I ever sewed on a sewing machine was a t-shirt’

One of the first things I ever sewed on a sewing machine was a t-shirt. I was about nine and it was at a time when it was really trendy to put iron-on transfers on clothes. After Mum helped me make the t-shirt, she took me to the transfer shop. It was wall to wall transfers and it was fantastic. I chose Elvis – The King!

Rainbow print earphone zipper pouch keyring by Birdy & the Boys

My creative side was pushed into the background when I finished high school. Studying at Uni, working long hours and eventually a family, consumed all my time.

Bright blue umbrella cover; ‘We would regularly get together to work on project or learn something new’

That was, until I met a group of wonderful like-minded ladies at the Puckapunyal Army base in Victoria where we lived. We would regularly get together to work on projects or learn something new.

Bright floral wet bag by Birdy & the Boys

I tried my hand at a variety of crafts and often entertained the idea of selling what I made. Fear and self-doubt held me back for a long time, but with the unwavering support of my husband and family, I took the leap in late 2018 and established Birdy and the Boys.

Marceliena with her beloved dogs and namesakes for her handmade brand, Birdy & The Boys: ‘It took me ages to think of a name until one day I was watching our two dogs, Scotty and Max chasing birds away’

It took me ages to think of a name until one day I was watching our two dogs, Scotty and Max chasing birds away. Birdy & The Boys suddenly appeared. An amazing graphic designer on the Gold Coast captured the boys perfectly and I feel like they are a part of the journey. They are my constant companions and are often found dozing under my sewing table.

Marceliena’s beloved dogs and namesakes for her handmade brand, Birdy & The Boys, Scotty and Max

The hand-made in Australia philosophy of Madeit fits my own approach perfectly. When I was beginning my handmade journey, I wondered how I was ever going to find my place. I was sold after about 5 minutes on the Madeit website!

A selection of Australian Christmas print drawstring bags by Birdy & the Boys; ‘Having a platform that supports Aussie makers and Australian handmade was so important to me’

Having a platform that supports Aussie makers and Australian handmade was so important to me. It gives us a voice in a big world. It also means from a very practical point of view, that small sellers like me can minimise the overheads of web design, hosting and maintenance, while still accessing the global marketplace. The platform is so simple and easy to use, professional in appearance and readily accessible to both buyers and sellers. The support provided by Louise and the Madeit team is exceptional.

Reusable cutlery pouch in whimsical animal print by Birdy & the Boys

Although Birdy and the Boys only kicked off late in 2018, the journey had a bit of a hiccup mid 2019 while my husband was deployed to the Middle East for most of the year. I was going to throw myself into creating, sewing and hopefully selling, but my body had other ideas. I was diagnosed with cancer.

A peaceful creek through subtropical rainforest near Marceliena’s home; ‘Constant medical appointments and the effects of chemo and radiation treatment just stole my time and enthusiasm’

Constant medical appointments and the effects of chemo and radiation treatment just stole my time and enthusiasm. I would walk into my studio, look around and then walk back out. I didn’t have the energy or the desire.

Mustard yellow sock covers in bright koala and botanical print

Thankfully, the treatment proved effective and my body has mostly healed; the joy I found in my studio returned. Now, I spend more time in there than anywhere else!

I love that handmade is personal!

Handmade pale blue fabric cup cosy in cute French bulldog print with bling- button detail by Birdy & The : ‘Handmade slows us down, whether we are the maker, the giver, or the receiver’

For every item that I sell, I know I have personally cut and pressed every piece, stitched every seam and sewn every button. I love starting with fabric, thread, buttons and zippers and creating something beautiful. A lot of thought, time and effort goes into everything I make. I am rather slow, but everything is made with care and love and passion.

Blue indigenous print women’s fabric face mask

We are in an age where disposable is the norm, as is cheap convenience. Handmade slows us down, whether we are the maker, the giver, or the receiver. Handmade is the giving or receiving of love, thoughtfulness and care.

Green handmade fabric eye mask by Birdy & the boys

Not so very long ago, handmade was seen as daggy and certainly not desirable, but gradually the perception has been changing. It is now being appreciated and recognised as skill and uniqueness.

Welcome to Birdy & The Boys!



Visit Birdy & The Boys to find more functional fabric gifts made with love: birdyandtheboys

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