More than ever, what girls need today is a place to unplug and find stillness and joy, a place to focus on meaningful, tangible projects while building their sense of self.
Birdsong is that place—an indoor/outdoor design studio overlooking Mt. Tam, where girls participate in small workshops that foster a deep understanding and application of the principles of design. We believe that design skills are life skills: less is more, details matter, balance is a virtue, mistakes can be the wellspring of great ideas, and much more.
Each workshop begins by introducing a particular design concept and project, and brainstorming about different ways to implement it. From there, the girls develop and implement their own unique take on the project with one-on-one feedback and encouragement. Finally, they present their projects in a group setting where they learn to give and receive feedback in a safe, supportive (and ungraded!) environment. Birdsong workshops teach girls to follow their unique, inner voice from the beginning of a creative project straight through to the end, no matter what the task they’re facing, or where it leads. These skills are vital not just for professional designers, but for success in any career.
That’s Birdsong—a place where girls can show up as they are and leave with a new appreciation of what they can achieve. No preparation ahead of time, no homework, no internet. It's a place where they can disconnect in order to reconnect to their creative potential… and have fun doing it.
Kirby Woodson has twenty plus years of experience as a professional designer and entrepreneur. The first phase of her career was spent designing children’s clothing in New York and Paris for babyGap, Bonpoint, Marie-Chantal and other private clientele. In 2004, she launched her graphic design firm, Petite Alma whose clients include Tinyprints, Tattly Tattoos, MoMA design store, Anthropologie, Shutterfly, Atelier Rosemood, Hallmark, and Barnes and Noble. Petite Alma's business partners are located in Silicon Valley, New York and France and Petite Alma designs are sold world wide with a heavy presence in the US, France, Germany, and the UK. In 2015, Kirby relocated from NYC to Mill Valley, CA where she continues to run her design firm, consults in the children’s clothing design industry and stationery industries, and has launched her latest venture, Birdsong.
To read more about Kirby's design background and what motivated her to create Birdsong, click here.
I started having bouts of nervousness around age 10. My more popular classmates were racing past me in math and reading. Everyone seemed to be sailing effortlessly through 5th grade, laughing with their friends while I was harboring secret thoughts that something was wrong with me.
I didn’t share these thoughts or feelings with anyone. Not my parents—I was terrified I’d let them down. And certainly not my best friend—what if she decided I wasn’t smart enough? And then one day I broke down and started crying in class. In front of everyone. Who could help?
My mother arranged to have Vivian tutor me in her home. Right away it was different. It felt relaxed, cozy, fun. Every afternoon she greeted me with a big smile and delicious treats. I looked forward to sitting with Vivian at her big kitchen table. No harsh judgments, just help and support. Bit by bit, homework stopped being scary.
Vivian and my mom knew something I didn’t—my struggle wasn’t a learning problem. I needed someone to highlight the things I was doing right, not just what I was doing wrong. Someone to tell me my feelings were normal. And, that strength is built from reaching out for help when things are difficult.
Eventually, Vivian told my mom I no longer needed her help—that I had opened up to my inner confidence. What I needed was encouragement from someone who wasn’t a parent—someone outside my circle who could listen, encourage and guide.
On our last day together, Vivian left me with this: “You have everything you need inside of you—all the wisdom, love and answers. I’m here for you if you need me, but you’re strong enough on your own. Now go out there and show ‘em how it’s done.”
Birdsong is dedicated to that lesson. It’s my version of Vivian’s kitchen table. A creative studio where girls can feel supported and encouraged to be themselves. Turns out when you set out to teach one thing, other lessons naturally appear. I believe the world needs many more Vivians in it. It takes a village, and I hope to be part of yours.