Eco Bird Q&A

A Q&A with the founder of Eco Bird

Danielle Smith, the founder of Australian online eco-fashion store Eco Bird, shares how her business offers an ethical alternative to fashion as usual.

Tell us a bit about your background.

Nature has always been something I’ve cared about; nothing makes me feel happier, more alive and more grateful than to be out exploring the world. I have always known that whatever I was going to do in life, it was going to be something that had a gentle impact on the planet, and that I would help protect it in some way. My plan after high school was to work in the sustainable fashion industry. I went to fashion college to study a diploma of business and came out two years later with a business plan for Eco Bird and a heart full of passion.

What inspired you to start Eco Bird?

I spent the whole time at college putting an eco-spin on things. Every assignment I handed in was from an ecological perspective. As I came to the end of my diploma, I had no idea about how or where I could work within the eco-fashion industry. Finally, I had my major assessment left to do, which was to create your own fashion business, and of course mine was going to be an eco-friendly one.

I thought about where the gaps were in the eco-fashion industry and what it needed to give it a push in the right direction, and came up with Eco Bird. I felt there were already plenty of amazing designers and brands creating sustainable fashion — they just needed to be more accessible and easy to find.

After a week of researching the assessment idea, I knew I was going to turn Eco Bird into a real thing. One long month later, and just after I turned 21, I handed in my assessment and started to turn my idea into a business.

How has it been received in the marketplace?

Really well! I have some of the most beautiful customers who have been so supportive toward Eco Bird. It feels like with each month more people are on the hunt for sustainable and ethically made fashion and that it’s something that is growing slowly but steadily. Many of us already eat organic, locally grown foods where possible, use organic Beauty and household cleaning products … I feel like our clothing is the next natural step towards a sustainable, Earth-loving future. And, hopefully, Eco Bird can help bring the eco-fashion industry a step closer to people.

Could you describe the kind of items you stock?

Eco Bird stocks a range of women’s clothing, mostly daywear, made from organic cotton and bamboo. Most of the organic cotton is certified Fairtrade and the dyes are eco-friendly. I mainly stock Australian and New Zealand designers now, but this summer I’m introducing a few more from overseas, which is exciting. I try to select pieces that I know will be versatile for people to wear and I try to go for styles that are unique. Most of the designers have limited-edition prints and small runs in styles, which add to the specialness of the garments.

How do you find sustainable and ethical labels and designers?

To begin with it was really difficult, which was why I started Eco Bird. The idea for an online store came about from my own shopping experiences: I was surprised at how hard it was to find sustainable styles I liked. I wanted to connect everyone to the designers and brands to make it easier and more accessible. I was lucky enough to find Bachhara, Monolog and Kowtow to help me start up in the first year and, once Eco Bird was online, designers started to find me!

Fashion made fairly and ethically is a basic criterion for an Eco Bird designer, but I look for designers who have gone out of their way — and beyond — to create beautiful clothing with as little impact on the environment as possible.

What’s your vision for the broader fashion industry?

It’s simply that people slow down and connect with what they are wearing — and doing. Buy something because you love the story it tells you. Keep it for as long as it will last; wear it as if it’s an old friend. It takes an awful lot of effort, resources and hardworking people to create our clothing; we should be grateful for it. People can tend to see fashion as something that is superficial, but it has the amazing potential to create positive change.

Describe your day-to-day life.

Running an online business leaves me pretty flexible, so my weeks and days are always different. If I need time to myself, I’ll head off to the ocean and then head straight back to work all refreshed, awake and inspired. I think doing things that make you feel alive and inspired is important when running your own business.

I also spend a few days a week working part-time for another business. As I started Eco Bird straight out of college, I never really had any industry experience, so working for another company has taught me a lot about myself, the eco-industry and how to develop and grow a company.

Where to next for Eco Bird?

The next chapter for Eco Bird will be all about growing and learning. Since starting Eco Bird there has been a million challenges, opportunities and learning curves that have made this path so interesting, perfect and unpredictable … I love it! My next goal is to broaden the product range and then, hopefully, create our very own bricks-and-mortar storefront.

For more details, visit

Danielle Kirk

Danielle Kirk

Danielle Kirk loves yoga and cooking and occasionally climbs trees. She's also the editor of WellBeing.

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