Jáiz Boyd, owner of Birds in the Coast, always thought he’d be a writer. As a teen, his buddies were doing hip hop music and Boyd would write lyrics for them. Eventually he began doing their styling and became well known for his skills at shredding jeans.
But it wasn’t until he was gifted a sewing machine at age 21 that his fashion career really took wing. A pattern for a “very simple and cheesy” duffel bag came with it, and even though Boyd had never used a sewing machine, he thought, “OK, I can figure this out.”
Boyd admitted his first duffel bag looked terrible, but he decided to carry it around anyway. Well, imagine his surprise when a guy at the gym asked who the designer was and offered him $50 for it! (He still gets a chuckle knowing that first bag is out in the world somewhere.)
Buoyed by that encounter, he went home thinking this was something he could reproduce and master. Before long, his family and friends started buying bags, and Boyd officially created the business Birds in the Coast in 2013.
Having grown up in the Bay Area, the name is a nod to when seagulls would fly in from a storm on the ocean. As kids, Boyd and his friends took that phrase and used it as an exclusive call, a sort of “code” to be aware of your environment.
“If we were getting ready to leave to a party or event, or if you needed to get everyone’s attention, you would yell ‘birds in the coast,’” Boyd shared.
Today, it’s an inclusive term, which Boyd described as a mindset – being aware of positive change in the world, building community, and speaking life and love into each other.
All of Boyd’s bags are handmade and one of a kind. He typically does smaller runs of 10–20 bags at a time, which quickly sell out.
“People love them, which is cool because the silhouettes that I utilize are really unique,” Boyd said. “We try to stay away from recreating Louis Vuitton bags, not using the same print where we’re putting our name or logo all over the bag. We go for a more minimal aesthetic and very simple but unique bags. I get to experiment and try new things and people really support it.”
Boyd especially loves using vintage materials in his bags. His grandma used to travel to Africa three times a year through her church, so he has an abundance of African materials and kente cloth originally printed and dyed in villages in Somalia, Ethiopia and Senegal.
One of their more consistent suppliers is Spradling, based out of Costa Rica. They manufacture marine vinyl, aka “vegan leather,” a PVC composite-type material utilizing melted-down plastics.
Spradling goes through a rigorous system to carbon offset everything and produce zero waste, values that align with Boyd’s. Whatever scraps he can’t use, he sends to Spradling to be upcycled into backpacks for kids or for netting to clean out the ocean.
In addition to bags, Boyd also creates 100% handmade custom clothing. His goal is to step into special occasion wear in a more consistent way, offering ready-to-wear come January 2023.
“What we want to do is compete, from an American standpoint, with French couture. So that will mean handmade garments, everything made in house. We would be truly a couture store,” Boyd said.
When Boyd and his wife, Corinn Bleck, the “financial guru” of Birds in the Coast, found the space at 709 North Monroe in downtown Spokane, they knew it would be perfect.
“We wanted to have an environment that’s more community-oriented instead of just being a storefront, where I could work out of and host events around my bags and clothing and my wife could showcase her furniture and artwork,” Boyd said.
The couple is excited about using their space to invest in and bring more culture to downtown – in a high-quality way that doesn’t feel pretentious – hosting art installations and events through their branch of Birds in the Coast called Adjust.
They’ve already hosted Spokane Ensemble Theatre’s “Spokane Sings Sondheim” and will be collaborating with them on an upcoming fashion show, which Boyd said will be a very interactive experience.
When Boyd, wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and skateboard shoes, first stepped off the plane from California during Spokane’s snowy, record-breaking winter of 2008, he wasn’t sure what he had gotten himself into, but he soon knew he’d never want to leave.
“I absolutely love the city and the people here,” Boyd shared. “I think we have a lot of great artists, and so for me, that’s what I’m investing in. It’s what’s made me believe in this area and want to stay.”
For now, Birds in the Coast is open primarily by appointment Monday–Friday. The best way to connect is via their Facebook or Instagram page, or you can visit birdsinthecoast.com.