I have been scouting out BAGGU bags for the past two years for the Dormify.com site. Although the bags are simple, their vibrant colors and practical functionality are simply amazing. I caught up with BAGGU’s Emily Sugihara and Ellen Van Der Laan to chat about their reusable bags and their sustainable business.
Stephanie Hayman: How did you come up with the concept for BAGGU – “to make basic products that fill lots of uses, not just one, so you can own less stuff”
Ellen Sugihara: It is something I am constantly searching for in my own life. Less stuff = less clutter!
SH: Owning less stuff is a popular concept as of lately; do you practice this in your home? How can you still have a cool looking space but with less?
ES: I always like my apartments the best when they are totally empty! My boyfriend and I shoot for “functional minimalism.” We try to buy not too much stuff. When we do buy things we get really nice, basic, high quality things – so that we can have them for a long time. My parent’s house was always really sparse – so I think I was raised on that aesthetic. Owning less stuff is easy when you like the way it looks!
SH: Emily, you majored in Economics and Ellen, you majored in Graphic Design, how did you two join forces?
ES: Ellen and I have known each since pre-school, all our lives we have enjoyed doing creative projects together. When mom and I were starting Baggu, we turned to Ellen for help making a logo and our first business cards. After about a year, Ellen quit her job and came to work at Baggu full time. She now serves as our creative director. She is responsible for the clean and put together look that our brand has always had.
SH: Similar to the Dormify story, Emily, your mom is highly involved in the business. What is her role and what are the perks of having your mom on board?
ES: My mom and I started the business together. We couldn’t find a good reusable bag anywhere, and we started making bags just for fun. In the beginning we both did a lot of everything, we packed and shipped the orders from our first delivery together, it was nuts! As the business grew, and we were able to hire more help we specialized into rolls that we were most interested in. Mom does product design – she comes up with the shape and style of every bag we make. I handle the business side of things and production.
I LOVE working with my mom! We live on different coasts so it is really nice to have something that keeps us in contact almost every day!
SH: Baggu is all about colors. How do you guys even begin to choose your pallet?
ES: Gosh, it’s really un-scientific. Ellen and I usually just pick the colors we are into personally. We add a new color or bag shape when there is something that we feel really into that we can’t find everywhere in the market. Basically, we make what we want to use!
SH: Your bags are perfect for Coachella! Do you hope to see a lot of Coachella goers sporting Baggu this year?
ES: Yes – Coachella is the perfect place for our Daypack, easy lightweight and durable. I can’t wait to see the photos!
SH: Are the bags reflective of your own personal style?
ES: Yes, completely!
SH: And finally, we have to ask, what did your freshman year dorm rooms look like?
ES: My Michigan dorm room was terrible! I was in a tiny room with two roommates, we all had lofted beds with little desk caves underneath. I bought a bunch of really horrible room stuff. My roommates and I all had really different styles so the room was a very cluttered mish-mash. Moving out of my dorm and throwing all that stuff away was my first big lesson in why you shouldn’t accumulate junk!
EVDL: My RISD dorm room was actually pretty nice. Two beds, two beige metal cabinets, two dressers, two desks looking out onto a lawn. I think I remember some red fluorescent lighting fixtures. I still don’t know how I fit all of my clothes in there. My assigned roommate was named Polina, and she is still one of my best friends today. She was very into simplicity. She liked to collect old printed ephemera, so she had a cork board on her side of the room pinned with her treasures, and I had a huge Pulp poster above my bed that I thought was very cool. (Actually, I wish I still had it.)
Purchase BAGGU Daypacks on Dormify today!
*header image from Rockstar