What is your earliest design memory for your brand?
We have been surrounded by what you call a ‘tote bag’ our whole lives! Cotton canvas has been a family business since our dad started his company in 1998. Our earliest design memories are providing input on color or features such as pockets on an existing design in his catalog. Our bags have been in the making for 20+ years! We kept several of the classic designs with additional colors ,but added a more modern, stylish twist in 2017 when we took control of ShoreBags. We added a contemporary collection, which elevates a basic tote while keeping all the essential practical features true to an on-the-go, eco-friendly bag. As we balance being career women to moms on the go, we find our style needs to be evolving and continue to design our bags to be functional, practical, multi-use, and of course fashion forward!
“We envision ShoreBags to be the go-to brand for all fashion forward, eco-conscious buyers who live busy, active lifestyles.”
Where do you find inspiration?
Travel + Nature + Everyday Life
Being first generation immigrants, we have strong affinity to traveling, foreign cultures, food and art. These are natural sources of inspiration for designing and determining the use of our bags and accessories. True to our brand pillar, we care a whole lot about sustainability and nature. We imagine vivid and scenic landscapes and picturesque sunsets when we design the color schemes on our bags. It was no surprise that we picked Gray and Canary as new colors for some of our new styles in late 2020 and these exact colors were picked as Pantone colors for 2021! Having our own family factory gives us the flexibility and capability to sample and iterate until we design the perfect practical bags.
What sets your brand apart from the rest?
We are a one stop, in-house brand. We design our bags locally here in North America, sample and manufacture them in our family factory in New Delhi, where we strive for at least 50% women employment. In addition to ethical manufacturing, we also have a 100% transparent supply chain where we source from the best suppliers of canvas, leather and other hardware that is used in our bags. Having 20+ years of manufacturing experience in this space makes us beyond just a designer brand, we are a high quality, high use, sustainably manufactured line of everyday bags. In addition to being a family business, we are also 100% minority women owned.
What do you envision for the future of your brand?
We envision ShoreBags to be the go-to brand for all fashion forward, eco-conscious buyers who live busy, active lifestyles. We hope to add more practical styles and designs that make our customers’ lives easier, more organized, stylish and eco-friendly!
Do you have a favorite piece that you have designed?
Casual is the style we gravitate towards and that is reflective in all our pieces. I love our Mini Box tote and City Shopper in Venture print, as well as the Carmel Totes. But our most recent Bold Burlap collection has been our go-to for all chores lately!
What were some hurdles you had to overcome in your business?
Every business has operational and supply chain challenges, but ShoreBags has been a passion project for the last four years. This meant holding full time corporate jobs while keeping all aspects of the business running with the attention a startup brand needs. This certainly isn’t something we have overcome yet; we are just getting better at it.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new designer?
Given that so many of our bestsellers today are the same ones that our dad was selling in 1998 means that good designs never go out of style! If it is something original, there is no wrong design - having conviction in your own style choices is the best thing you can do for yourself and your brand.
How important is social media to your brand?
We actually do not depend on social media the way that we should at this time, but we are a very small team, so it is a challenge to come up with so much new content! We definitely try to engage with our followers, provide upcoming style information, survey on new designs, etc. to gauge customer interest and engagement levels as we experiment with new styles.
How did your brand navigate and overcome the pandemic in 2020?
We suffered losses, but it helped us “clean” our operations. It allowed us to slow down and look at what is truly important to us and how we can better ourselves in the new year. It told us to keep going and doing what we are doing! It’s now more important than ever to join hands and do things better for the world we live in for the future generations to come.
“Sustainability, Women Empowerment, and Functionality are the Shorebags brand pillars.”
What can consumers expect to see next from your brand?
New colors, prints and styles! We also expect to make enhancements of our existing products by adding colors and pockets where we find it would add some extra flair. Of course, all while being sustainable and empowering local communities so that you FEEL and DO GOOD when purchasing from us.
Where is your favorite place to travel? Why?
At this point, traveling anywhere would be amazing! But really, going back to our home country and the base of our company – India. We miss the busy streets, amazing food, and the beautiful people we meet when we go there. As populous as India is, you always feel at home no matter where you go. Like any other developing country, the problems India faces are quite large, but the feeling of community you find amid chaos is something only India has. We love creating our bags in India because of these reasons.
What made you want to design eco-friendly bags?
Because we have enough of the other kind! Too many times people are trying to do the right thing by buying reusable bags, but if they are petroleum or plastic based, it is carbon negative and harms the environment. The fact that plastic and artificial leather can take over 400 years to degrade was enough to strike an inspiration that we need to produce eco-friendly, biodegradable handbags that are stylish and useful so people can use them over and over again.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Our biggest strengths are our family-owned business and processes; from sourcing through production as well as our brand pillars and what we stand for. Sustainability, Women Empowerment, and Functionality are the Shorebags brand pillars and each year we push ourselves and ask the question: are we hitting our core values in every way possible? We are continuously working to challenge ourselves to evolve into what we truly believe in, and we feel we are getting closer each year.
We feel that our ‘weakness’ is the same as our strength! Because we are a small startup brand, we pay more to ship, pay more to manufacture and keep our operations lean. This size means our customers do not get the same ‘deals’ on shipping and other items that they are used to seeing from big box or most big online retailers.
Do you find it difficult to have a brand based in Indiana? What are the perks versus the challenges?
We love being in the center of it all! Being in Indiana allows us to ship nationwide with the least amount of transit time – being efficient while sustainable. It gives us our beloved shores – which inspires us in our designs and keeps local communities on our minds to work with – helping us build the power of community.
What inspired you to name your brand?
Natives to Lake Michigan in Indiana, we were driven by the shores we spent each summer on with our family and friends. It is where our childhood was completed once we both moved from India to the USA.