Projects that are inspired from personal experiences have a drive to them. A moment of ‘Ingenuity’ and we are inspired to create change, possibly make a difference.
HamiltonPerkinsCollection is a name owing it’s beginnings to similar circumstances and change is what they strive for, sustainable and inspiring change, which is evident from their work.
Today in this exclusive interview we talk to founder Hamilton Perkins about the brand’s first and staple product – the Earth Bag.
but before we move on to the interview, a summary on this product.
The bags are created out of nothing but recycled plastic bottles, making it one of the best cases where a recycled material has been used in production of a consumer product. Adding to this, the bags are lined with vinyls from repurposed billboards, making each bag different and unique. the bag features a 3-way zippered compartment that allows easy access to laptops, books, and travel documents, and even though it is not made of out any conventional materials, it is as Functional as any other travel bag out there.
(click on the images to enlarge)
But of course that is not all. Other than helping in reduction of plastic waste, the brand claims that the bags also helps cut carbon emissions and conserve water. So, in a way by simply buying one, you are somewhat doing your part towards saving the environment by promoting and accepting such methods of Production i.e using recycled waste as the primary material in production of consumer products.
designdaily.. talks to founder and president Hamilton Perkins.
Hamilton, how are you ? can you please tell us a bit about your background ?
“I studied business marketing as an undergraduate. After college I worked as an independent marketing consultant in Washington DC and felt like it would be harder to learn fast by only working with smaller companies in a single area of business. I was looking for a birds-eye view of the economy and I was interested in finance so I took a position in banking as an analyst. I worked in consumer banking, commercial banking, and private wealth management and didn’t really know what was next so I went back to business school to earn my MBA.”
“While I was at business school I had a chance to travel in Asia and Europe. I had a hard time finding a travel bag that was unique and made a positive impact. I researched the industry and found that there were several factors that made it hard for bigger companies to serve this need. I got started with focus groups and ended up selling to about 40% of my classmates and figured the idea was worth exploring further.”
What was the inspiration behind this product and What are you trying to achieve here ?
“It all started as a personal problem. Similar to many travellers around the world, we had trouble finding a socially conscious bag that met our basic needs in a responsible way. After compiling data and digging through countless bags we found that most options were at best, average quality. The majority of companies maintain low prices with secrecy around how they can sell their bags so cheaply.”
“On the other end of the market, bags are excellent quality and cost much more than they need to because of the marketing, brick and mortar leases and other admin expenses. We felt like there had to be a better way to serve the modern traveler looking for purpose in every journey. We founded HamiltonPerkinsCollection to be an alternative for socially conscious travellers on the go.”
Can you please tell us about the Production process ?
“The process starts in the developing world. Individuals in Haiti collect plastic bottles and turn them in for cash at collection centres in the Remase Lajan program network, sponsored by Executives Without Borders. Haitian operators strip the plastic bottles and prepare them for the production line. Once the bottles are cleaned and prepared they can be transformed into “flake”. The raw materials get turned into fabric and finally we use this textile to make our bags.”
“The old idea that strength is in the numbers certainly doesn’t apply to the travel bags of today. We asked ourselves could there be anything more disappointing then to pass a traveler carrying the exact same bag that you are carrying? Exclusive lining from repurposed billboard vinyl is the keynote of our bags. Each bag is different and each bag is unique.”
The Bags are lined with Billboard Vinyl. How were you able to accomplish this ?
“Our west coast cut and sew shop has offered tremendous support and creativity beyond measure. Together we mapped out our own process by volume of bags sold to reclaim the vinyl once it had been discarded for trash. Simply put, the operation takes skilled coordination. Often times there are many materials in our everyday lives that can be used and repurposed in a new way. Sometimes it just takes some effort to think through what the possibilities are.”
Are there any other materials used in the production of the bags ? Any organic materials ?
“For now we are using recycled plastic bottles and vinyl from repurposed billboards mainly. We want to focus on one to two textiles at a time and use them really well. Our design process opens our platform to take input from customers so we have a lot of ideas about where we could go next.”
Are you working with any organisation dedicated to preservation of environment ?
“Presently our key partner is Thread. We work with them to turn plastic bottles in to fabric. The partnership allows us to execute on our commitment to sustainable business practices. A core aspect of our brand is centered around solving problems. Additionally, our B Corporation ® status helps us scale and measure our impact with the environment.”
Anywhere we read about HamiltonPerkinsCollection the term B Corporation® comes up. What qualifies as a Certified B Corporation® and what does this mean for you ?
“We are very proud to be a part of a community of over 1,700 companies across many industries that all have one unifying goal : to redefine success in business. It means we are not only concerned with being the best in the world but the best for the world. We had to meet rigorous standards of performance, accountability, transparency and we use the power of our work to help alleviate poverty, address climate changes and develop strong local communities.”
What affect do you think this Bag will have on consumers & the design industry ?
“We hope we can be an example of a brand driven by social mission and that fully utilizes the power of design. By selling our product we aspire to transfer wealth from long standing industry inefficiencies to our customers and less developed nations so that as a result we all might be better.”
Hamilton, what is your definition of Design ?
“We tend to see design as a process. The inspiration of our bags comes from the problem we are trying to solve. Because we are making physical products that we sell on the internet we constantly feel the need to test. We adapted our design work mostly around the design thinking process when we created the Earth bag. ”
“We put ourselves in the user’s shoes. We established a point of view around their travel experiences and followed up by brainstorming possible innovations. We then built a full prototype and tested it to see if the users would actually buy it. Our customers were looking for a beautiful product from us.”
What can you tell us about your Kickstarter campaign ?
“After developing the initial concept for our Earth Bag we pre-sold it to friends and family in late 2015. Kickstarter is a great storytelling platform. We feel like it provides a solid opportunity for us to sell our bags direct to consumers in a way that is consistent with our values.” (click on the image below to visit)
What can we expect from HamiltonPerkins in the coming future ?
“We will be distributing our staple product, the Earth bag in the upcoming months. We expect to introduce more accessories that are designed well and that have an inherent mission to solve problems.”
How would you describe the Bags in a Single Word and a Single Sentence ?
“We make exceptional products designed for function and style, making a difference one bag at a time.”
(click on the images to enlarge)