By Marty Crandall, VP of Product
I have older kids and they love to bike, designing and developing a line of Po Campo bags for kids was a labor of love. To launch a complete kid’s line, we knew we needed a water bottle bag, a handlebar bag and a backpack. Developing these kids bags was a joy, knowing that more kids in the world would use them on their biking or scooting adventures. We hope to inspire more kids to ride by providing a solution for them to carry their things with ease, comfort and style.
Starting With Research
The first step in our design process is always research. We scoured the internet for trends, visited shops, talked to users about what they love or need in a bag. Following kid’s biking trends we developed three designs to launch the line. We have plans in the works for more styles and colors in the years to come!
For our Kid’s Line we wanted a custom print, so we reached out to a number of professionals to design a fresh new pattern special to Po Campo. We found artist & designer Zoe Wodarz, and her designs were exactly what were needed, in line with the Po Campo brand ethos - fun, cheery, inspiring, colorful. A bond was forged, and after a few rounds of tweeks to the pattern, the “Let’s Go!” print was ready. You can look at Zoe’s amazing artwork in her Instagram @zoe.wodarz
In our research we noticed that reflectivity is an important consideration for parents, we wanted to make sure our kid’s line used every element of reflectivity we had in our design tool kit. The bags feature a wide panel of reflective fabric as a design detail and they share our use of reflective webbing that is present in all of our bags. We began adding reflective print to our products with the Nightlights Fabric and we wanted to incorporate that technique in the kid’s line as well. Zoe’s print leant itself perfectly to add fun reflective details.
The process of manufacturing is first to print the background print onto white fabric at one manufacturer and then travel to a different printer which applies the reflective ink on top of that print.
Bag development is a circular process of thinking up cool ideas (designing), testing them out, and solving all the little problems that pop up along the way until you are confident in your product and ready to begin production. After the team gave me the “thumbs up!” for the initial designs, I translated those sketches into an engineering packet for the factory as well as set them down the sourcing path. Any new fabrics or hardware that we wanted to use in this line needed to be sourced by our factory. For this line the major sourcing effort was the molded micro-grip fastener. All of the other fabric and trims are the same high quality we use in all of our Po Campo bags - we just needed to approve new colors.
The factory uses the engineering packet to build patterns and samples, and after 2 to 6 weeks I receive a box of samples to test and review. Even though I have been doing this for years, it always feels like my birthday when the boxes arrive. This is where the circle meets back up with the design phase. I review the samples and learn what is working (or not) and what looks good (or does not) and I have to use both my design brain and my technical brain to solve all of the problems and send comments back to the factory for re-sampling. This back and forth process of refinement is why, even as I type this, I am already working on designs for Spring 2022. On a side note, this is the first development cycle done exclusively without travel due to all the Covid-19 travel restrictions. As I live in Hong Kong, I would typically visit the sample room in China at least twice during the process and then visit the production factory in Vietnam just before production commenced. Instead of me travelling around this last year, it has been the bags that got to travel. Between shipping, video conferencing, and many emails and texts; we safely developed the line.
VIEW FROM MY DESK
For this line of product, we wanted to get some expert opinions and use their feedback to make the line the best it could be. So we made a set of samples and sent them to six different families to test. Our goal was to get the bags into the hands of kids and parents to test out the features and functionality of the bags. We did not want to assume that we knew everything! We asked our testers to load them up and use them in their everyday life. The best part about working with Kids and Parents is that they gave us honest feedback and a few ideas that made our product even better. They want to see good bags for their kids as much as we do. Seeing how the kids used and interacted with the samples gave us insight into how we could improve the designs. With the user testing complete, we had a few more small tweaks to make before moving into the production phase.
FUN SOURCING STORY
As I was designing the line - I really wanted to avoid velcro style closures, but I also know that we needed easy open “dump style” pockets for kids to stash their treasures in, but I did not want the “sticks to you, sticks to me, sticks to itself” problems that hook and loop closures have. I experimented with elastic and straps and none of it was working great. On a shopping trip with a new friend in Hong Kong I came across a wallet with a cool molded plastic connection system! I got the wallet for my husband’s birthday (he needed one), but before I gave it to him I began sourcing the part with our factory! Ironically, it was only after he got the present that we found the supplier. He started sourcing too because he also wanted the part for a sailing application.
Our Molded Micro-grip is the fruit of this search. It is easy to open and close for little kids and it won’t stick to your sweater.
LET’S GO! TO PRODUCTION
Getting the bags to production was pretty standard except that Covid 19 affected everything. Our production had moved to Vietnam in 2020, but the development and sourcing for these bags was done at a sample room in China. Manufacturing is one of the wonderful global enterprises where raw goods (such as fabric) are manufactured in one country and then shipped to another for the final step (cutting and sewing). Because of Covid and the travel restrictions, the amount of flights from one country to another decreased dramatically affecting our transition from sampling to production. Lucky for us, our manufacturing partner is setting up a sampling room in Vietnam and working hard to source more raw goods locally. The hardships of one development cycle will lead to efficiencies in the future.
Our factory has mentioned that working with our bright colors actually lifts the mood after sewing a line of black or dark blue bags. They sent me a photo of the backpack and commented “It looks like it is smiling!” I am excited to see these bags on the bikes of kids this spring and I hope they bring a smile to everyone on their biking adventures!
Introducing Po Campo’s New Kid Line
Blip Water Bottle Feed Bag: The secure 3-Point attachment design provides ultimate versatility to strap the bag onto handlebars, top tube, down tube or whatever works for the kid’s bike or scooter. Two side pockets with stretchy see-through mesh are perfect for carrying snacks, toys, or other treasures found during adventure. A drawstring closure at the top secures loose objects in the water bottle pocket or the water bottle during bumpy rides. The feed bag easily attaches to our backpack or can be carried hands-free with the wrist strap. Shop Now
Speedy Handlebar Bag: Simple, adjustable and secure handlebar fasteners are designed to work with all handlebar styles and sizes for both kid’s bikes and scooters. One main zippered compartment keeps valuables safe, while a front stash pocket with a molded micro-grip closure keeps items secure without snagging on clothes like Velcro would. The back pocket stores attachment straps or the removable shoulder strap when not in use. D-rings on the back can be used to attach the bag to Po Campo’s backpack or any bag with a clip. Shop Now
Zinger Backpack Pannier: Ideal for school and outside adventures, this child’s backpack pannier securely fastens to a bicycle rear rack with a unique, secure hook-and-loop attachment system. Once they reach their destination, kids can easily remove the pack and transition to a backpack using the stowed away shoulder straps. This backpack pannier includes one main zippered compartment for belongings and a padded interior pocket that fits a Chromebook, books, clothing, or even a water bladder (sold separately) to be used with a built-in hydration port. Two stretchy mesh side pockets are perfect for holding water bottles or snacks, while a front flap pocket has the same easy open molded closure as the Speedy Handlebar Bag. Snaps on the front of the pack allow other products in the line to be attached. Shop Now
Article written by Marty Crandall
Marty Crandall lives in Hong Kong with her family. As the VP of Product she is leading the charge to produce quality sustainable products. When she is not taking early morning calls from the team back in the US, she can be found on a rental bike in Sha Tin or her tiny sailboat in Sai Kung.