Oil Spills Blend In – Walrus Bag Changes

The first few shots I took of the Walrus bag were outside, and when I got them back to my computer — hehehe… they blended in like camouflage.  Like this:

Walrus Bag from Self Reflection blending in

So we’ve decided to make some changes to the printed fabric for this bag.  By adding some color and adjusting the color levels all over, we think the new printed fabric will make this bag even more beautiful.  For those of you who are looking closely, the production bags will look a touch different.

Walrus Sample bag - front pocket fabric change

In addition to the slight coloring change we’ve also made a few cropping adjustments on this bag.  Minimal changes to the artwork layout.  Here’s what the full printed fabric pattern looks like for the finalized version of the walrus bag.

Walrus bag from Self Reflection - low res of final fabric printing

Things are Changing for the Polar Bears

The sample bags for Self Reflection are beautiful — those are the bags we’re using in all of the photos that have gone up on Instagram / Facebook and on this blog.  Those 4 bags are each going to see a few changes between what you see in the samples, and the final production.  The changes are small, but they’re worth mentioning.  Let’s start with the Polar Bear bag.  Things are changing for the Polar Bears.

The Lid

Most notable change:  we printed the Polar Bear bag lid upside down.  Zoinks!  This was a mistake that I made on the Photoshop file prep.  And of course, for the final production bags, we want to get this fixed.  The new lids look like this:

Polar Bear Bag - Lid Changes

Earlier today, I was attending the Small Biz Festival here in Austin (wonderful event – I’m loving the content, and the people I’m meeting are all a new source of encouragement).  During one of the breaks I got to chat with some folks about the work that we’re doing.  In that casual conversation, I shared some of the print file images that we are using to print our fabric, and the “oooo’s”  and the “aaaa’s” that sharing these drew were an uplifting surprise.  One person (didn’t get her name) upon seeing the below image said, “wow, that’s such an amazing way to look at the artwork.  I see it completely differently now.”  This gives me the warm fuzzies.  I couldn’t agree more with her.  Below is a low-res image of the final printed fabric pattern for the Polar Bear bag from Self Reflection.  Enjoy!

Printed Fabric - Self Reflection, Polar Bear (original artwork by Eli Halpin)

(In the next few days, I’ll be posting some details about each of the other Self Reflection bags and the changes to expect on the printed portions of those bags too.  Original artwork featured on the Self Reflection bags is by Eli Halpin.)

Self Reflection – Preorders Now Available

Self Reflection Bags - available for preorder

Preorders for Self Reflection Bags are finally here and we couldn’t possibly be more excited.  Happy May everyone!  Head on over to http://shop.badassbackpacks.com to place an order, or swipe through the story on our website (http://www.badassbackpacks.com/story/selfreflection.html).   May 1 – June 1 we’ll be collecting preorders, and then the first bags will begin shipping out in June.  I’ll be posting on instagram and also here on our blog during May to provide some more details.

Preorder pricing is $200 and on June 1, the price will go up to $250.  All preorder bags will be hand signed by Eli and of course, they’ll include a high quality print of the artwork featured on the bag.  Biggest thanks possible to this entire community for your support of this project up until now — and thank you in advance for sending your friends over to our website to check out these latest bags!  

May is going to be a jam packed month for Badass Backpacks — preorders for Self Reflection, Small Biz Festival, a trip later this month out to Vancouver, WA, new bags in motion… threads floating in the air.  It’s May!

Tra la, it’s May, the lusty Month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la, it’s here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear
–Julie Andrews singing The Lusty Month of May in Camelot

Limited Edition:  The First 100 – Sincerity Inside

Most of our followers here already know that we are mega stoked to be preparing for Self Reflection, our newest bags.  Pre-orders for Self Reflection will start on May 1 on our website.  I’ll be flying out to Vancouver, Washington during May where our bags are being crafted with love, and then we’ll start shipping these bags in June as soon as they’re ready to go.  We’re working hard to make it happen.  (I’ll get some updates posted on the blog as we go, but if you haven’t started following us on Instagram, give us a follow there — my blogging action has switched mostly to Instagram these days.)  We are beyond excited for Self Reflection to be up for sale.  And that makes right now the perfect moment to reflect on The First 100.

The First 100 - Sincerity Inside

The First100

In 2016, we began selling our first bag production ever:  Sincerity Inside.  We refer to this first run of bags as “The First 100”.  The First 100 bags made by Badass Backpacks — Limited Edition, numbered, and hand-signed by the artist, Cheryl Hicks.  If you want the chance to own one of our first bags, you can still get one.  We have about 30 left to sell.  And they’re available on our website, waiting to join you on your journey, waiting to beg of you the question: what happens when you choose to bring your full self?  When you choose to show up, and face the front?  What happens when you put yourself inside?  These are great questions for all of the bags that we are creating, but especially for Sincerity Inside; and that means this bag was the perfect place to start.  Our First 100 bags are exactly that.

I’ve thanked Cheryl over and over again (and I’ve thanked so many of you who follow this blog, over and over again) for helping us bring The First 100 to life.  So here I am, on the ledge of leaping into selling our second bag production — and as I reflect on this tiny beautiful inventory of bags we have left to sell, I cannot help but smile.  And I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the continuing flood of gratitude I am swimming in, so grateful to have worked on this round of bags, Sincerity Inside.

You still have time to be a first follower.  If I had to guess, I’d say you probably have a little bit more time.  Maybe through the end of the year?  Maybe less time?  There are only 100 made.  And about 30 of them left to sell.  Once they’re gone, they’re gone — they’ll be out in the world carrying what you’ve chosen to put inside.

Sincerity Inside

What’s Next

As for us and what’s next:  Self Reflection is a beautiful next step.  We can’t wait to start shipping these bags.  Pre-orders start May 1!  And then… well, then it’s time to pick up the pace.  More bags coming this summer!  I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait … BUT WAIT! … wait a moment, because it all started with The First 100.


Spring has Sprung into Motion

Happy Springtime!  Happy Fall to our Southern Hemisphere friends!  I love the changing of the seasons, and the arrival of spring has unsurprisingly brought me an extra skip to my step.

With spring break / SXSW wrapped up and with the arrival of our new sample bags, we’re in full motion on so much all at one time.  What are we up to?  Here’s a first day of Spring update:

Photoshop, photoshop, photoshop:  staring at photoshop for 3 hours a day is about my limit, so it will likely take us a few more days to make all of the needed tweaks to our fabric print files so that we can get our adjustments printed and ready for final approval.  I’m hoping to have our full fabric print run in motion in early April to keep us on track for rolling out Self Reflection bags as soon as is possible.

Which means it’s time to work on our packaging fun:  we’ve been playing with packaging ideas for Self Reflection.  Tissue paper, boxes, and tags, oh my.  Here’s a snippet peak at the tissue paper work (the background comes from Eli’s Polar Bear painting, and the handwriting comes from my Mother, Paula Lemmon):

Self Reflection - tissue paper for packaging.  Artwork by Eli Halpin

And if that wasn’t enough, of course, the springtime is teaming up with post-SXSW energy to have us overflowing with new ideas, new adventures, and new goals.  Not losing focus on our 3 critical paths, balancing that with new ideas, and not being afraid to go with the flow.

Open sourcing backpack design:  This TED talk (whole thing is worth a listen but start at the ~6:50 mark if you’re skimming) gets me smiling and dreaming big about how Badass Backpacks could do some leading by open-sourcing our backpack patterns.  New ideas are brewing.

Funding search: lastly, I’ve been meaning to announce that Badass Backpacks is officially searching for funding!  Don’t worry — the world is doing a really good job of preparing us for how ridiculous, how difficult, and how long this journey is going to be.  We know that we have a lot to learn, but with the arrival of the blue bonnets and with the springtime blooming of everything around us: it’s time to kick that learning into high gear.  We are leaping, and our search for funding is in motion.

My 3 kids dancing in the blue bonnets

Spring is here:  keep moving.

Self Reflection Sample Bags

Self Reflection Sample Backpacks in Eli Halpin Studio

Look at those beautiful bags!  Self Reflection sample bags arrived last week.  Exhausted and completely depleted of energy, Rusty still made the trip up to North Austin late at night to celebrate with me the day they appeared.  I’ve been waiting for the right moment to share the samples here on the blog.  When I first mentioned that our sample bags were in production, I truly thought that they were going to be in my hands by Feb 13.  Today is March 14.  One month behind my goal.  Seems I have to keep learning the same lesson over and over … these things take time.  Time makes their arrival even sweeter.

Rusty and I have some work to do — some changes to make to the fabric printing, and some small tweaks to work on with our maker.  But we’ll be in a short run production round before you know it!  Our new goal is to have pre-orders for these bags ready to go by May 1.  Self Reflection, on its way.  It’s going to be a beautiful springtime!  

Rogue Bag #53

Last week we shipped more bags!  Exciting!  Bag #34 is in route to Saint Paul, Minnesota and bag #53 was shipped to Boston, arrived in Boston, but is now missing in action in Boston.  Our first rogue bag — unintentionally lost in the wild.  Was it stolen?  Taken by mistake?  We only know that it’s missing.

Backstory: friend of Badass Backpacks, Diana, purchased a bag as a gift for her friend, who lives in Boston.  The bag was successfully shipped; unfortunately, the bag spent the night on the back porch where it was delivered, and, well … friend never got the bag.  Diana put a lot of heart and soul into making this gift special.  We collaborated to load the bag up with some special books, and handwritten letters to boot.  It looked like this:


Bag #53 and Seth Godin's Book, Your Turn

Bag #53 About to Ship

Depending on how you look at it, if the bag was stolen, they were either very happy with what they found, or perhaps very disappointed.  Whosoever it may be that has bag #53 — I hope you know that I celebrate the fact that you have it.  I imagine you opening the box, and having to work through all those layers of packaging to see what’s inside.  And what in the world goes through your mind as you discover the books that were packed inside the bag?  And the letters?  Will you read them?  Will you consider that maybe those words were written for you? … but I digress.  Have no fear.  We are super pumped to leap to action — we’re loading up a new bag, bag #54, that will ship out very soon as a replacement.  Upside?  Two bags shipped to the Boston area.  

To friends who are in Saint Paul and Boston areas — be on the lookout for our beautiful bags floating around your cities and your places.  Huge thank you here to our newest bag buyers!  So awesome to add two new cities to our shipped list… and it makes us smile that bag #53 is out there somewhere.  Sincerity Inside, gone rogue.


I’m looking for new sources of patience as I wait with bursting anticipation for the sample bags for the Self Reflection series of bags.  Yes, we’re still waiting.

“… I can’t imagine there’s any way at all for you to be moving any slower.”
– Reader of this blog who ran into me at the grocery store at 10pm in Austin, TX

Ouch.  I’ll take that on the chin, because yes, it’s true: the pace of creating a manufactured product does seem to take forever.  Thank you for your patience.  I’m just about out of it myself.  In other news – we’re making the most of our waiting time on the other critical paths. Check this out – a pitch contest. Interesting.

More updates on Self Reflection to come.  Until then, let’s keep moving.

Self Reflection (formerly referred to as “Oil Spill”)

Our new website went up earlier this week and there’s a brief mention there of Badass Backpacks’ newest bag series:  Self Reflection.  We’ve been sharing a lot of info here on the blog about project Oil Spill.  When we began working with Eli Halpin to create this series of bags, we talked a lot about animals being covered in oil.  Oil Spill was the perfect moniker to refer to all the work we’ve put into developing these bags. It’s been a perfect codename.  Time to change.  The theme for this new series of bags is: Self Reflection.  

What’s in a name?  Why change from Oil Spill to Self Reflection?

We’re creating backpacks that live at the intersection of art, obsession, and identity.  We have a lot of fun considering, asking, and deliberating each part of the bags we are making.  The name and the theme of these newest bags was debated — and Self Reflection is the name where we landed.

The Oil Spill might the first part about these new bags that we notice.  It leaps out.  We’ve trained ourselves to see something covered in muck as anti-beauty.  And then look a bit closer.  The animals are beautiful.  The oil is beautiful.

Eli created 5 phenomenal oil paintings for this project.  You can now purchase the art (prints available) on her website.
Oil Spill  |  Blue Herons Flight  |  Sea Turtle Quartet  |  Walrus With Gold Tusks |  Polar Bear Raindrops

Badass Backpacks is still becoming, and only getting started.  My first blog post back in 2015, started intentionally with Gratitude.  Always start with Gratitude.  😉  Our first work together, our first bag, was a statement about being True to oneself: Sincerity Inside.  A perfect leaping point.  And following that first leap, a large bucket of emotion and energy was kicked over, spilling out onto the table.  A bit messy.  And beautiful.  So what comes next?  Our second bag is: Self Reflection.

Have you ever felt like you had a layer of something weighing you down?  Something that was there, but you weren’t sure what it is?  Or why it’s feeling so heavy?

Sometimes it’s good to remember that immediately under that layer — is you.  Beautiful and powerful, pure and true.  And you’re there, even when that unexplainable layer of something is weighing you down.  You can always come back to who you really are. –blog excerpt

Put Yourself Inside.

Interior Lid Print for Self Reflection Bag Series - artwork by Eli Halpin

When Gratitude Meets Trust

Happy Monday!  I’m stoked, nervous, laughing, and choking as I announce with one fist raised in the air:  we’re launching our new website today for Badass Backpacks, at www.badassbackpacks.com!  I’m at Flightpath coffeehouse with Rusty, and he’s hard at work to put the final polish and finishing touches before making the new site live …

I have not seen this new website yet.  Nope.  Not even once.  Am I serious?  Yes.  This is an experiment.

As Rusty and I leapt into our work for 2017, it came to pass that he was cranking to build our new website (critical path #2), while I’ve been cranking on our other two critical paths – building more bags (#1) and developing our brand, identity, model, and plan (#3).  The work has looked a lot like this: 

Rusty working on Badass Backpacks Website - Fightpath Coffeehouse Austin, TX

Notice, I can’t see his screen.  🙂  At a certain point, we figured out that I still hadn’t seen any of the design or build-out work.  Of course we have talked, and charted, and sketched, and card sorted, and discussed, and deliberated certain parts of the website.  But time went by, and we laughed about the possibility of having the site go live without me ever laying eyes on it.  For a small bootstrapped project, where both founders are immersed in SO many things all at one time, wearing so many hats all at once:  time is precious.  And so is Trust.  Decisions need to be made.  Rusty has extended an incredible amount of Trust in me to ship our bags — and now it’s my turn to extend that Trust right back to him for the website.  I am Grateful beyond words for this Trust.

So here we are, and here we go.  Taking steps forward on our path to becoming Badass Backpacks.  I’m excited to check out the next phase, our new website … hold your breath with me, and stay tuned on www.badassbackpacks.com —- you, me, and all of us: we will all be seeing Rusty’s hard work together for the first time.  No pressure Rusty.  😉   

Our original website was just a rotating gif, our current website landing looks like this, and next phase of the website launching in … 3… 2… 1?  🙂  Coming right up …