Take a look at a map. LeTrav started right here in Portland, Oregon. Yes, that “Portlandia” Portland you’ve heard so much about. From the beginning my desire was to make a quality bag in the United States—ideally in Oregon. That dream has involved a fortuitous series of collaborations. This posting is intended to give an appreciative shout-out to just a few of the people who have thought-partnered with me on this journey.
We’ll start in a location approximately 120 miles east of Portland. My sister Laurie and her husband Kevin live year round at a bend in the road named Camp Sherman. Now, if you’re a fly fisherman, you’ve probably heard of this trout-Mecca on the Metolious. For the rest of you, this would be considered wilderness. A talented artist, Laurie was instrumental in setting up my first shop in Redmond. She patiently worked with me in patterning my first creation. Kevin, a brilliant consultant, has been a trusted advisor during the infancy of LeTrav.
Now, let’s jump across the country to Naples, Florida. There you will find Michael Korchmar. I first met Michael at the TGA show nearly 4 years ago. Tan and dapper, Michael leads his family business, Korchmar which has existed since 1926. Michael has been a generous resource in assisting me with researching manufacturing options both domestically and abroad.
Now, we’ll return to Portland. I’d like to recognize Julio and Kim Enciso. These two could be called the Art and Science of Sewing. Let’s start with the science. Julio hails from Peru. He repairs sewing machines of all types. Currently I am renting space in his shop which allows me to try out a variety of machines. In the process, I also met his wife Kim who came to Oregon via Vietnam. Kim is the Art of this dynamic duo. Although she trained as an engineer, she is an innovative problem-solver and seamstress. As I’ve been developing my various prototypes, Kim oversees my efforts. She “tsks-tsks” while inspecting my stitches. “You are a good designer.” She says, “You are not a good sewer.” You can’t really place a value on this type of education.
There you have it, five unique people from 5 very different walks of life. Each has played an important role in helping me achieve my goal of manufacturing a quality bag here in the US of A. It’s become trite to say “it takes a village” but it really does. Thank you Laurie, Kevin, Michael, Kim, and Julio, for helping me make my LeTrav dreams come true.
As a designer, I’m intrigued by people’s motivation to buy a travel bag or briefcase. What trends are truly influential? For example, each year Pantone names their color of year. Tangerine, Orchid, and now Marsala has each been heralded as an annual winner.
You’ll see various manufacturers take off with their own version of these latest hues. Just yesterday my wife picked up an orange (maybe tangerine?) polka dotted rug at Ikea. It was purchased to complement her paisley pillows of orange, apple green, and, yes, Marsala (apparently the color previously known as burgundy). Certainly color has an expiration date. Avocado and rust scream the 70s while teal and mauve are just so 80s.
When it comes to a briefcase or travel bag, does color matter? More importantly, does it matter to you? Do you tend to stick to basic neutrals when it comes to your accessories or do you like to adopt what is trending today? Even that is a complicated question as many of remember when red was proclaimed the “new neutral.”
As I continue blogging, I’d like this to become a dialogue between you, my potential consumer, and me. So, here it goes: