The story of Baggu began with a simple need: Emily Sugihara (right) and her mom, Joan Sugihara, started a line of aesthetically appealing, functional, and reusable bags—the sort you turn to for hauling groceries or lugging beach gear—when neither could find versions that cut it. And so, armed with impressive design backgrounds—Emily from Parsons, and Joan from running a quilt-making biz with fans like Ralph Lauren—the duo set out to fill the void. “I worked at J.Crew for a bit and really share their love for color and the idea of simple, high-quality stuff,” Emily notes. “For the first year, we just had the one standard Baggu in eight colors.” But since it launched in 2007, the collection’s exploded, adding five more shapes—which come in countless hues and (sometimes crazy) prints—and, most recently, leather styles.
These days, Baggu—which is Japanese for bag—is HQed in Williamsburg, a big move from the first
office, the family garage in San Diego. But with Joan living on the West Coast, the design process is still very much a cross-country effort: She does the bag shapes, and Ellen van der Laan (left), the line’s creative director and Emily’s childhood bestie, oversees the overall aesthetic of the brand. “Ellen designed our logo one day after work and helped us with a ton of things relating to the line—all before we even hired her,” Emily explains. And though they want to fill the world with their creations, they’re still thoroughly green-minded. As Emily says, “From the beginning, we really wanted to make a product that lasts—so it’ll stay out of nature for as long as possible.” —jiayi ying
Behind The Scenes
A Very Baggu Friendship These two have been a team since the toddler days.It started with two: Emily Sugihara and her mom, Joan, hatched the idea behind Baggu in 2007, made a prototype, and put off worrying about the overall look and feel of their line-to-be. When it came to doing all that branding stuff, they enlisted the help of Emily’s childhood friend, Ellen van der Laan, who, armed with a graphic-design degree from RISD, became the third musketeer and has been shaping the line’s aesthetic ever since. Here, Emil... READ MORE »
Hello, S.F.! Baggu Goes Bi-Coastal This company is not choosing sides.When Emily Sugihara and her mom Joan launched Baggu back in 2007, they were shipping orders out of a family garage in San Diego. Soon enough—after Emily’s bestie Ellen van der Laan joined the team—they moved cool-bag HQ to Brooklyn, and, in November 2012, they added a second studio in San Fran’s Dogpatch ‘hood to the mix—with lots of light and plenty of space to spread out. “It’s cool because there are a ton of creative businesses in the building—photo studi... READ MORE »
Get Inside the Baggu Design Process They think through things…and fly by the seat of their pants.A peek inside the Williamsburg office.Ever since its inception, Baggu has been a bi-coastal effort: Joan Sugihara lives in San Diego while her daughter, Emily, is a New York transplant. Today, Baggu—which makes bags that suit left coasters, right coasters, and everyone in between—houses its ten-person team in a clean-and-cool Brooklyn studio, with Joan chiming in from sunny Cali. Here, Emily and creative director Ellen van der Laan ... READ MORE »