The spark of an idea for a business often comes from personal experience. And that was precisely the case for Vicky North, founder of Bird Kitchen, which supplies apparel for women working in the food and drink industry.

The brand was born when cafe owner Vicky realised the unisex garments supplied in the sector were usually designed for men. The lightbulb moment led to her starting her business, which is now on an exciting growth journey, providing high-quality kitchen wear for women worldwide.

Bird Kitchen has been supported through Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP). The AGP provides targeted support for ambitious, growing firms. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.


Vicky North of Bird Kitchen
Vicky North of Bird Kitchen


Here, Vicky North explains how she established her firm and provides some food for thought for leaders of growing businesses.


Tell us about Bird Kitchen.
My background was in the food sector, where I ran a cafe for several years in Pembrokeshire. And this is where Bird Kitchen began. Because it is my experience in the industry, working in the kitchen every day, which informed what I’m doing here at Bird Kitchen. Most of the aprons and chef’s clothing I wore were mainly designed for men, even though they were nominally unisex. They just did not fit properly.

This had real, practical implications for me. Long and demanding shifts in the kitchen often led to health issues such as neck strain because of the unergonomic nature of the clothing. The clothing was literally becoming a pain for me!


I saw this as a problem that needed addressing. I started a blog where I interviewed women from across the industry, and I found it was a common issue. I wanted to change that, to create a community and celebrate women in and around the world of food. Many women were also leaving traditional kitchens to start their own ventures, where they could run a kitchen their way. I saw a need for female-designed workwear that would fit better and look professional.

Next, I contacted a local designer, Nicola Ridd-Davies and worked with her to research and create my first product line. I launched Bird Kitchen in 2019, and we now sell our products globally. I’m looking forward to seeing how I can grow my business and get these much-needed products to professional women working in the catering sector, wherever they may be.


What are your proudest moments in business so far?
Seeing the first line of products was one of my proudest moments. It was such a thrill to see all my planning come to fruition. Another unexpected moment of pride was when Cardiff chef Simmie Vedi appeared on the BBC’s The Great British Menu wearing a Bird Kitchen apron. Seeing my product beamed into living rooms across the country was amazing!


What challenges have you faced in business?
Sustainability and slow, ethical fashion are key parts of our ethos. This meant finding the right place to get the products made was a challenge. In keeping with my desire to manufacture ethically, I wanted to keep production in the UK, but I found the costs were just so high we would have been priced out of the market. I have now sourced an ethical company in India. Again, finding the right place to get the products made was critical to the business. Our manufacturers must share our values – quality and sustainability must be at the core of everything we do.


If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
I have learned so much in the three years since starting the business, but one lesson I’ve learned is to think more broadly. I spent a lot of time and effort trying to source a UK manufacturer, believing it to be the best way to produce my products ethically. However, after widening the net, I’ve found an ethical manufacturer outside the UK. This means we can keep costs down, strengthening the business.


How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
Support from the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme has been invaluable. The programme has been such a help to me as an entrepreneur, and I’ve received advice on many areas of growing a business. For example, coaching on branding and marketing was essential to me as a fledgling business trying to get my products in front of our target market.


What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?

  • Do your research – speak to as many potential customers as possible when formulating your business plan.
  • Build your community – this can be both for customers buying from you and partners. When you have a community of people on board, you have somewhere to go to try things, people to talk to, and places to take your questions.
  • Think more broadly – not just in terms of your potential partners and stakeholders, but also in terms of customers. You might be surprised at the opportunities that appear.

Learn more about Bird Kitchen.

You can find further information on Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP)


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The Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme is a pan-Wales programme part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

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