Outsourcing to Family
When I (Briana) was growing up, I used to sew and make bags and purses for myself and my friends. Embroidered felt tote bags? Yup. Drawstring backpacks? Of course. Monogrammed tulle purses with lacey ribbon handles inlaid with silk flowers? Don't ask. Clearly I was using bags as a means to express myself. I fancied myself a fashion designer so I used that energy (or delusion!) to enhance my creative sewing skills. I never followed patterns though, I was more of a "wing-it" seamstress. Something was usually pretty off with the whole thing, but I really loved the process. My bags may have been sewn in haphazard ways, but the time spent making them and figuring things out was probably crucial for my future self (and profession). If you got a bag from me, you were one lucky SOB.
Eventually the fashion design dream fizzled out and I replaced "fashion" with "graphic", though my bag making roots were never forgotten. I still made a few every so often as I needed or wanted them for myself or as a gift. I hadn't thought about it in a while, until this past summer on a vacation with family the subject of bag making came up. Somehow one drink led to another and a plan was set in motion to produce tote bags under the Brainstorm name. We knew that we had too much on our plate with our regular business so if we could just relinquish some of the production to someone else, we thought this could actually be possible. So my parents stepped up and said they would take on the bulk of production. Proposing major projects a few drinks deep in July is not exactly the best way to ensure follow-through, but everyone has held up their enthusiasm for the project for the last five months. So I'm happy to say that bags are officially a Brainstorm product! Read on...
Here's a few shots from the early stages of production on the totes...
We screenprint all the canvas in our N.H. studio. Our first design is the "Sun, Moon, Stars" pattern from our collection of gift wrap. It was a huge challenge to learn how to print canvas on our press. We're not too big on the fabric printing to begin with, but adding the "paper only" machinery element was a whole new ball game. Through a ton of trial and error, it printed beautifully on the canvas and we were totally hooked.
We trim the canvas down to the bag pattern shape and from the scraps we make the inner tags (also screenprinted). Then we pack up all the materials and send it down to Mom and Dad in New Jersey where they stitch it all together.
My mother has been sewing since she was a Brooklyn kid in the 60's so I wasn't worried one bit about giving up the sewing responsibility. She's the great perfectionist seamstress we needed to make this a reality. And my dad wanted in on the process, so he bought himself a machine, learned to stitch, and has been diligently sewing in the production line.
Early prototyping at the kitchen table!
I'm so happy that I get to create bags again. Granted, it's no haphazard bedroom creative workshop, but I still get that same excited feeling when I see the finished product. We're so happy to bring my family into the mix too. They are always trying to find ways to be a part of our business and help out, so this was a perfect way to play to their strengths while not taking too much time away from our own regular day to day. We really hope you like these bags as much as we do! Shop now! —Briana