The story of Bleubird

The story of Bleubird

2023 is shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for Bleubird. There’s plenty happening behind the scenes, and we’re working hard to keep you in the loop with it all.

We thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at where it all began, so we caught up with Bleubird’s founder Matt Creighton to chat about the story, from its humble beginnings of DIY screen printing in his French ski workshop to growing Ireland’s no. 1 Outdoor Lifestyle and Equipment brand.

So, Matt, where did the inspiration for Bleubird come from?

So, straight after finishing university in Liverpool, I headed out to the French Alps. I couldn’t wait to get out there; it had been a dream since I was a kid to live and work there, so finally making it a reality was pretty cool. I went on to spend six years out there as a seasonaire, working through the winters as a ski technician and spending summers by the running tides of western Europe, searching for waves in my first little camper, Betty Blue.

I was fortunate enough to have skied from an early age. I’ve always been passionate about the outdoors, the mountains, the ocean, and finding my next adventure off the beaten track as best I could.

The original idea of Bleubird came about after I took a break from season life after my second season in Tignes. I headed off with a mate on an 8,000 km journey by bicycle from Belfast to Vietnam, with just a tent on the bike and without much of a plan! Cycle as far as we could east was the extent of it!

I had a lot of time to think about life whilst on the saddle, probably too much, and Bleubird started to evolve in my head. Although I was on an epic adventure, crossing continents and exploring remote places, my passion for the mountains still ran through me.

After the journey by bike, I headed back to the Alps where the idea of Bleubird slowly burned away inside for another few years until I committed to going for it in 2016.

What were things like in the beginning? Did Bleubird look much different then than it does now?

Bleubird in the Alps.

Aha, yeah, a fair bit! Bleubird has definitely evolved and changed over the years. I guess it has tended to follow the things I’m passionate about.

At the start, it was very much a snow-focused brand because that’s the life I was living at the time. Back then, the main idea behind Bleubird was allowing seasonaires to ‘mark their territory’ with what I called ‘The Rear Tag’.

This was a print at the bottom right-hand side of the t-shirts and hoodies with a ski resort name, personalised to the customer. Seasonaires liked the idea of this as everybody was proud of their little home for the winter.

When it started, it was small scale for sure. I taught myself how to screen print, made old dodgy printing equipment in my ski workshop out of broken picture frames, and started printing the original t-shirts in my bedroom.

But things grew pretty quickly, people really liked the idea, so it was a busy season trying to juggle my actual job and keep up with the orders from around the Tarentaise Valley and further.

It was around 2-3 months into the season that I realised there was potentially something to this. So, I decided it was time to move back home and pursue Bleubird full-time.

I convinced my parents to let me move back in with them and slowly take over different areas of their house as the brand grew and more and more orders were coming in. First it was their garden shed, then their garage, then their living room. 

I’ve worked on Bleubird full-time since moving home in 2017 and gradually built the brand up over the following years. I’m pleased, and my parents are relieved at the fact it’s no longer operating from their house! 

We now have a large warehouse and office space outside Belfast, just round the corner from a brand new skate park, which makes the commute to and from work a lot more fun!

You mentioned that Bleubird has evolved in line with your personal life and passions. How did moving back to Ireland change the direction of the brand?

Since moving back home to Ireland, I filled the void of skiing with surfing and exploring the outdoors. And Bleubird has naturally followed this path with me.

Over the past few years, Bleubird has become an outdoor and adventure brand for all types of people. We’re inspired by nature, with the Ocean and Mountains at our core, and this passion will only grow stronger. It’s not about a particular sport or ‘genre’ anymore, it’s about getting outside and seeing what nature has to offer.

Our product offering has changed alongside the shift in what Bleubird stands for. More recently, we’ve launched technical pieces of apparel and equipment such as our Nordic Robes, SUPs, luggage, and e-bike range, which not only encourages people to get out and explore more but enables that also. 

Nature has clearly provided quite a bit of inspiration for both Bleubird and your personal life. How has this impacted the way you run the brand?

It’s fairly obvious by now that nature is at the heart of our inspiration and drive. As a team, we all feel a responsibility to build Bleubird in the most authentic and transparent way possible and to always recognise our environmental and social impact.

It’s evident how badly climate change is impacting our planet… I’m no expert, but just look at the snow conditions this season in the Alps. We’ve realised that it’s not physically possible for anyone to run a ‘sustainable’ fashion brand. The only way to do this in a 100% sustainable way is to not exist in the first place. What we can do, however, is to do as much as we can to limit the negative impact we have. There’s more detail on this on our other blogs, and we will continue to put out more information like this to our community, the bad stuff as well as the good… honesty is important.

We’ve always planted a tree for every order – that comes as standard for us. As we learn and grow, we’re constantly looking for better alternatives for the materials we use in both our products and in our packaging, while also looking for ways to limit our contribution to global fashion waste. You can see this through the launch of our Salvage Yard recently, and also in the launch of all new products… coming extremely soon!

We also have a foundation set up in Malawi, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and improve the lives of families living there. It’s a really cool project, with so many benefits. If you haven’t heard of what we’re doing, check out the Bleubird in Malawi page on the website for more info.  

Well, it’s been a pretty exciting journey so far. What are the plans for Bleubird now?

Matt, founder of Bleubird.

Both myself and Bleubird have grown, changed, and learned so much over the past few years. Right now, we’re working on lots of exciting new projects, like growing the brand into the European and US markets and expanding our product range with more technical products and lower-impact materials.

It’s been cool to see the brand grow from where it started to where it is now, and I’m excited about where it has the potential to go in the next few years. 

Bleubird is now fortunate to have a great team behind the scenes. My childhood mate, Mike, came on board with me back in 2021 and we’ve now got a great team around us. We’re all driven, passionate, and excited about where the brand is going and what we’re doing. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’re overdue a team day out, need to get on that! 

We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for our Community supporting our journey every step of the way. It’s great to see everyone out living the Bleubird way of life and adventuring more. We do what we can to encourage this; one project we run is Bleubird Sessions, a series of events with local activity providers aimed at getting people outdoors and trying new activities.

Cave snorkelling was one of the sessions on the North Coast last year, which was new to everyone who took part. It was pretty sick. There will be more of this this summer.

I don’t know what the future holds for us; who knows that answer? But we’ve got a good plan of where we want to be and it’s super exciting for sure. Looking back over it all now, it’s just cool to see people getting on board with the idea I had few years ago, and it’s nice to be able to grow something, which can actually do some good along the way.

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