We paid Baggu's Williamsburg, Brooklyn office a visit and found that not only is the space a reflection of their colorful-but-minimalist aesthetic, but that they also employ a bunch of friendly and stylish people.
Who all carry Baggus, of course.
Baggu was born when founder Emily Sugihara and her mom began making reusable shopping bags for themselves. "I'd been using reusable bags for years, purely for practical reasons, and my mom's always been kind of a treehugger, so we got really into it. We started looking at manufacturers, and it immedi-
ately became clear that you can't get 100 made, you have to get, like, 40,000. So then it kind of became a real business."
Emily (on the right) and creative director Ellen Van Der Laan (middle) have known each other since pre-school in San Diego. "Ellen went to RISD for graphic design and was working at an agency, so when we first started, I traded her this jacket that I had for her to design the Baggu logo," Sugihara says. "We'd work on it at night when she got home from her other job, and then as soon as we could hire someone, she quit her job and came here full time."
Sugihara majored in economics at the University of Michigan and originally thought she would go into investment banking before deciding on fashion. "I always knew that having my own business was what I wanted to do. My childhood best friend and I had a yellow file box that we called our 'office building,' and we kept little records of accounts and her dad showed us how to use Excel when we were like, eight."
"My mom actually does a lot of the design. She's not a cool mom, she's like a regular mom, but her sense of proportion is amazing," Sugihara says. "We didn't even have backpacks on our radar and she came to visit in New York and had turned a duck bag into a backpack. And then Ellen and I pick all the colors together, and Ellen keeps the brand image looking really kind of minimal. It's kind of a funny collaboration."
"Baggu means bag in Japanese. I'm a quarter Japanese and we lived there when I was little. We chose it really randomly, because we had to have a name," Emily says.
"We really pick just colors that we like at the time. In the beginning, we just went through the Pantone book and picked every color that we thought we might like to see in a bag and narrowed it down to eight," Ellen says. "We've gotten a little bit more careful about what we buy. There was a period of time when we were really into puke green and yellow and realized that maybe other people weren't as into those colors we were."
Pia, Aaron, and Ellen with fabrics they designed for an Urban Outfitters collaboration.
Aaron with an inspiration board he put together.
Emily's Baggu leather bag holds three other Baggu bags.
The leather pouches are made from the scraps of the leather bags.
Emily Sugihara, Founder, with the Small Bag in Black.
Ellen Van Der Laan, Creative Director, with the Small Bag in Apricot.
Aaron Vinton, Graphic Designer, with the Duck Bag in Nutmeg.
Joe Sturm, Director of Customer Relations, with the Duck Bag in Sailor Stripe.
Kabir Fernández, Technical Designer, with the No. 6 Honey Animal Baggu.
Pia Howell, Manager of Interna-
tional Distribution and Designer, with the Shapes Slate Baggu.
No one at Baggu has an official title, so they made these up on the spot. Here, they pose with their bags.