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Adventurist Backpack Co.
Kelly started Adventurist Backpack Co. in 2017. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Adventurist Backpack Co.?
We came up with the idea for Adventurist about 3 years ago when Matilda and I were 21 and 24 years old, respectively. Since Matilda is from Sweden, and I’m from the U.S., we spend a lot of time traveling back and forth from North America to Europe (not to mention that we love to travel anywhere whenever we get a chance.) This means that a good backpack for us is an essential.
We had no idea what we were doing and how we were going to get the word out about our new company. But we decided to move forward with the idea and start an Instagram account, the only free way we could think of advertising our new brand.
We are both fans of Scandinavian minimalist design, and I loved the style of all of the backpacks we saw people wearing in Sweden, as well as Denmark, Finland, and Norway. They weren’t just a tool to carry your stuff around in, but also a fashion accessory in which you could accentuate your personal style - and most importantly make your outfit look even better by wearing a backpack, not worse.
Sometimes you just don’t need 2 million zippers/pockets and bright neon colors.
After returning to the U.S. from one of our trips abroad, we decided that we wanted to make a backpack that we couldn’t seem to find anywhere across the country. We wanted to design a fashionable, high-quality, and affordable backpack for less than $100. Since most of the fashionable/well-built backpacks we found were upwards of $150-$300, we knew that there had to be other people like us that wanted something good looking and with high quality, weather-resistant fabric, that wouldn’t cost the same amount as a plane ticket itself.
This is when we started sketching out our designs for the first Adventurist Classic, a backpack that would blend the styles of Sweden (Matilda’s home) and Colorado (my home). It would be a simple and high-quality backpack with 2 pockets, 2 zippers, and a laptop sleeve. We had no prior experience in design, being fresh out of high-school (Matilda) and college (me) but we sat down with a piece of graph paper and a little pencil from IKEA, and started drawing away. The design that you can find on our website and at Urban Outfitters is the same as the one that we drew on that graph paper, before we even knew that we would start a company.
We also knew that if we were going to start a company, we wanted to integrate giving back as a key pillar of our business model. On one of our early trips abroad, we would go by the grocery store each morning and buy food to pack into individual meals, and then stuff them into our backpacks. While we were out exploring each day, we would then hand these meals out to anyone that we saw who was in need. We wanted to spread kindness and thought that sharing a meal would be a good way to let others know that there are people out there who care about them.
When we came up with the idea for our backpacks, we thought back to this trip and thought that we could continue providing meals from our backpacks even while we weren’t traveling. During our trip we were able to fit about 25 individually packed meals in our big backpacking backpacks, and today we still provide 25 meals for every backpack sold.
At this time, our financial situation was basically that of college graduates scraping by while we were figuring out what we wanted to do with our lives. We had just gotten married and our budget was basically non-existent. I worked in the receiving warehouse for Barnes and Noble and Matilda worked as a retail employee for Banana Republic. We had about $3000 that we had saved up that went towards starting the company, as well as a $4000 investment from my parents. This $7000 total we ended up using to set up a website and order our first round of several hundred backpacks. We had no idea what we were doing and how we were going to get the word out about our new company, let alone if anyone would even like our backpack designs. But we decided to move forward with the idea and start an Instagram account, the only free way we could think of advertising our new brand.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater