Any self-confessed bagaholic is familiar with the age old dilemma of taking care of their prized designer handbags. It is exactly this brilliant bit of insight that inspired fellow handbag lover, Marielle Kangasniemi, to create Bagpad.
The idea for Bagpad is simple. Originally inspired by the iconic Hermès Birkin, Bagpad is a specially sized and customisable product that supports the interior of your handbags, maintaining its shape, and also reducing moisture damage. Besides being an absolute must for handbag lovers the world over, Bagpad also provides a longterm solution to keeping the shape of your handbags, while reducing plastic waste.
We catch up with Bagpad Founder, Marielle Kangasniemi, and talk all things Bagpad, her collaboration with One Ocean Foundation, and about the biggest challenges and triumphs she has faced as a GirlBoss.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, what inspired you to start Bagpad?
I’ve always to do something on my own, I just needed to find the idea. So after I finished my masters in Fashion and Luxury Brand Management at Istituto Marangoni, I knew I wanted to do something within fashion and luxury. I’ve also always had a passion for handbags, so I decided to combine my passion with my knowledge and came up with this unique solution that didn’t exist before. Now when you think about it, it’s such an obvious thing that all handbag lovers need.
The iconic Hermès Birkin Bag is the inspiration behind the bagpad, as this is a bag that really needs support when it’s not in use. So the first bagpad was made to fit the Birkin bag, but now we offer bagpads to fit any designer handbag. The bagpads can also be personalised with monogramming and we offer fun patches for decoration too. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who has a handbag.
How important is sustainability to Bagpad? Could you’ll us more about your collaboration with One Ocean Foundation?
Sustainability is one of the core elements of Bagpad, as the whole idea was to create a long-term solution for keeping handbags in shape and reduce the use of plastic. What’s currently in use is bubblewrap, plastic bags, or tissue paper? We know that plastics are the most common form of trash in landfills, and the most dangerous form of pollution. The ocean is filling up with garbage, so in order to help, we are in collaboration with the One Ocean Foundation, which raises awareness about the urgency to resolve problems plaguing our marine ecosystems. They create specific projects to help safeguard marine life, and also perform beach cleanups throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Every individual can contribute to saving the oceans through simple but virtuous actions.
At Bagpad we are very committed to do our part to save the planet, and so we use biodegradable packaging and recyclable materials. Plastic in itself can be harmful to the leather and interior of the bag, as it might transfer colour, start ‘sweating,’ or even scratch the leather, which is why we use only premium materials that are especially suitable for designer handbags.
What steps can we take to become more conscious consumers?
Always choose the more long-term solution. Even if you can’t find a completely sustainable and Eco-friendly product, it’s better to choose the one that lasts longer, even if it might cost a bit more. There is already so much waste in this world, so any conscious decision to reduce the use of plastic is for the better.
It’s also important to take care of what you have so that it lasts longer. That’s why it’s important to take care of your handbags. They are meant to be used for a long time and if you take proper care of them they can last decades.
There are many ways to take care of handbags, but the most important one is to keep them filled when not in use. This prevents the leather from creasing and helps the bag to keep its shape. Our bagpads also protect from excessive moisture to keep the bag in perfect condition.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as an entrepreneur so far?
To find time to do everything! I wish I could clone myself so that I would have time to do everything and be everywhere at the same time. It’s challenging but also very exciting to work with all aspects of the business. I learn so much everyday and I feel so grateful for having this opportunity.
Another thing that can be tricky is figuring out the marketing strategy. There is so much going on in social media and consumers are exposed to so much marketing all the time, so it can be difficult to stand out. You really need to know who your customers are and where they spend their time. Luckily our product is unique and customers can really see the value in it.
What advice do you have for women who would like to become a GirlBoss like yourself?
If you have an idea or a chance to start something on your own, just do it! You can dream however much you want but if you never start, you will never know. Don’t be scared of setbacks, they help you grow and push you in the right direction. There is always help available and especially London is such a great environment to start a business. I’ve met so many inspiring people here and you never know who you’ll meet, there’s always someone who knows someone. Expanding your network is key!