Boris Mann’s Personal Blog

Sep 2020

Custom Bags and Shipping IP vs Products

I’ve just ordered myself a custom Timbuk2 messenger bag.

Custom? Yes, custom: you pick and choose fabrics and colours and various other options. This is mine.

I have had a great red/gray reversible messenger bag for many years that my sister Gaby gave me. First one of the inside clips broke so it needed to stay gray, now the outside closing clip broke.

I still use it while walking, but open bag flaps and biking don’t mix.

Asking the Internet about bags is hard, so I went to Wirecutter and they said Timbuk2.

When I was looking earlier the custom options weren’t as obvious, and I kind of wandered off. Did I want a bag the same as everybody else, especially in drab colours?

Which led me over to Freitag, which my current bag is sometimes confused for.

Colourful, unique, up-cycled bags? Yes! Well, except for two things.

  1. Fashion is pricey — about $350CAD before shipping
  2. Did I really want to ship up-cycled bags across the ocean?

For a well-made, relatively unique bag that I intend to keep for a decade, price isn’t the barrier.

But (2) got me thinking: can we ship IP rather than products?

Especially as the pandemic has people thinking about supply chains and supporting the local economy, what would it take to collaborate with someone locally in Vancouver and make a bag?

Vancouver has lots of apparel, outer wear, and other gear designers, so that’s a plus.

And in fact, when I asked around and shared the idea a bit, both of the people I talked to had a 1-degree connection to people who had made bags. And then I even found a 1-degree connection of my own who had made his own bag and was making more.

So let’s say I budget $400-$500 for a customer one of a kind bag. Could I find 10 or 12 other people locally who would be interested?

And once I did this, could I make the design (and sourcing of materials and manufacturing/sewing, etc) available for others to do in their local areas?

Yes, I could. And we might just have a little network of locally made goods. Never mind connected links of makers and supporters interested in this sort of thing.

Are you interested in the Vancouver custom bag experiment? Is there another custom thing you’d like to see created locally? Let me know!

More on co-op models and small business peers and shipping IP another time.