Founded in 2014, I set out to make better products. Ones that are more versatile, last longer, are simple in their construction and have a clean aesthetic. I want to make products that will help everybody in their daily lives and at the same time, lighten our impact on the planet.
After 15 years designing high performance sporting goods, I really wanted to use my background to create something that was more universally useful. Something everyone could benefit from. I experienced what good design and quality manufacturing could do for athletes, what if I could give this experience to more people with products we use everyday?
That was the seed, and after years of internal debate, I left my freelance life, moved 3,000 miles West from my home state of NH to rural Twisp, WA and took a chance. . . that I could design and build something that would be useful to everyone, and do it here, “in the middle of nowhere” population 900.
“When I saw the abandoned Forest Service building at TwispWorks I knew this could be home”
In 1996, while studying Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, I was fortunate to be awarded an internship in the Patagonia Design Dept. where I learned, first hand, the story of “the Tin Shed” . . . and the foundational ethos that is Patagonia. When I first arrived on the TwispWorks campus in Twisp, Wa, I had my own version of that building right in front of me. There was nothing practical about this decision to renovate a collapsing forest service building into a design and manufacturing studio. I was fueled by a dream of creating something authentic, raw and honest in a place with no disruptions. It was even called “the Grey Shed”.
eqpd is born
“Oh man . . . what am I going to make?” 1 month passes, 3 months . . . 6 months, and then I see it - as I open my closet door and a pile of “reusable” bags fall out. Bags from trade shows, grocery bags, bags from subscribing to magazines, gift bags, bags from conferences, bags from sporting events, - all sorts of bags that barely work, that will last a year or two at best, cluttering up my life and I don't even enjoy using them?
So I did my research and quickly realized these “reusable bags” are some of the most environmentally damaging products ever made. I know, it's slightly confusing and I don’t believe it was intentional - but the results (and overall misuse of plastics in general) has left us with a messy situation.
This was my problem to solve.
So began the task . . . to use design to deliver an honest product solution, give the user an amazing experience, and to help the planet. . Hundreds of prototypes and 6 months later the LastBag came to form and we knew we had an answer that could benefit everyone, from extreme athletes to everyday shoppers, and it all came together under the umbrella of good design and responsible behaviors.
A lot has happened since we built our first “LastBags” back in 2014, but then again, not much has changed. Lucky for us, utility has staying power and our very first products are still in production today. We have sold tens of thousands of bags over the past 7 years, can count returns on one hand, and our very first customers are still our customers today. As for local manufacturing, though it requires more management and is more expensive than manufacturing overseas, we believe the culture of the American worker should be celebrated and we are extremely proud to build all our products right here in Washington, USA.
This local approach proved to be highly beneficial when COVID struck in 2020. We were able to quickly pivot from making bags to making masks to immediately support our rural schools, hospitals, law enforcement, frontline workers, volunteers and community members. I often wonder without USA makers - from home-sewers to factories like mine, what our country would have done without “us”? There is a good reason to have manufacturers in your town, state or country, please consider that next time you purchase anything, from anyone.
So as we transition into 2021, we continue towards our north star, using design to help solve problems that can lower our environmental impact, slow the spread of a virus or just make daily life a little easier. Every time you use your eqpd gear, you are supporting a value system that’s larger than the object itself, one that illuminates the good that design can do. Whether that be honest manufacturing jobs building durable products, or being a community resource in a time of need, we whole-heartedly believe that good design can bring us together for a better life, one with less consumption and more enjoyment.
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