And now we're 8 years old!

Being eight is great! To celebrate our anniversary, use discount code HBD2017 for 20.09% off your entire order through July 11. In the meantime, here are 8 things you may or may not know about Po Campo:

1. Susan Sarandon bought a Po Campo bag

Way back in 2010, the New York Times featured us in the Thursday Style section, in a piece entitled Runway to Roadway Style. The next day, we got a phone call from Susan Sarandon's assistant (at least we think that's who he was), who ordered a bag for her.

Po Campo in NY Times

No, we've never seen her with it, but we know she has it, and that's pretty cool.

2. Where the name Po Campo comes from

Po Campo is a character in Lonesome Dove, the book that I was reading when I came up with the idea for the bags. Po Campo was the cook that went on the cattle drive, and I recall liking his easygoing attitude and really liking his name.

Image source

I'm rereading the book this summer and enjoying it equally well. Po Campo hasn't entered the story yet and, to be honest, I'm a little nervous that I won't like his character as much in this next go 'round. Stay tuned!

3. I started Po Campo with a co-founder

I've been running Po Campo solo since 2011 but I actually started the business with my good friend Emily.

We parted ways when we acknowledged that I thrived on the entrepreneurial lifestyle much more than she did. She still carries around a Po Campo bag! And I still miss having her as a partner!

4. Po Campo moved to Brooklyn at some point

Po Campo's roots are in Chicago and for the longest time we named our bags after Chicago neighborhoods and landmarks (The Midway Weekender being the last remaining style from that time). My husband and I started spending more and more time in NYC and eventually I and Po Campo set up shop there. It was a slow process, but now we're in Brooklyn pretty much full time.

5. We've had a lot of different products over the years

We're best known for our bike bags, but over the years we've had diaper bags, yoga bags, bandanas, wallets, and more. When I first started Po Campo, the market for stylish bike bags seemed really small. To grow the business, we came up with more bags to appeal to more people.

In case you're curious, that DID work to grow the business! But it also pulled us away from our true love of equipping people with product to help them bike every day. So now that's most of what we do. Read my interview on Pedal Love that goes into this in more detail.

6. We sell our products around the world

Check out our Australasia website for proof! 

7. I design our products for spring a full year ahead of time!

It took me a few years to get to this point, but now I actually have the next year's spring season completed by the time we get to National Bike Month. Why so far in advance? It helps to drum up interest for the new product with larger retailers at that time. It also gives me plenty of time to fine tune the product and work out partnerships ahead of time.

Materials research

Honestly, I'm totally a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race type person and I love coasting into finishing lines. So it makes me very proud to be on top of things like that. Curious about my design process? I detailed it in these blog posts.

8. We met our first production partners through a mechanic

This is one of my favorite Po Campo stories. When we started Po Campo, we wanted to make the product locally in Chicago. But we couldn't find anyone to make the bags - our Google searches turned up nothing! Yet I knew in a city like Chicago that there must be someone or some place to manufacture bags. 

Desperate for help, I asked a friend who used to design bags for Diesel if she could help me look. She ran into the same issues with Google but then thought to ask her mom. See, Susan was a first generation Korean-American and shared my hunch that there would be resources in the immigrant community. Her mom suggested talking to the mechanic Mr. Kim who knew everyone. So Susan went to get her oil changed and brought it up with Mr. Kim, who amazingly said that there was a couple in his church, the Lees, who used to sew luggage for Tumi. I mean !!!!

Susan set up a meeting with us and the Lees, who brought along their teenage son to help with the language barrier. They brought samples of their work, and Emily and I knew that we had found our partner. The Lees helped us develop our first products, the Armitage Satchel and the Streeterville Clutch, and made our first sales samples. They weren't set-up to help us with production, but they pointed us in the right direction. Thanks to the Lees, we had stellar looking samples to test the market, and a manufacturing partner to make our first production run.

Since then, whenever I have a need and don't know where to look, I just start asking everyone because you never know where you'll find the right person to help you.

Other blog posts you may like

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National Women's Small Business Month: Sharing Resources

The Value of Working with Other Entrepreneurs

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