The Making of P.MAI: Factory Tour
We are finally back Stateside after visiting our factory in Dongguan, China, located just a few hours outside of Hong Kong. We wanted to take you behind the scenes.
Our first impression was of the city itself. Though the air was sticky with humidity, Dongguan is surrounded by lush green mountains and several lakes and reservoirs. It felt like being in Florida or Texas during the summer.
We feel lucky to have found a partner that cares about quality as much as we do. The factory has been producing quality soft goods for 30 years—from high-end designer handbags (think Versace) to high-performance luggage and laptop bags. Moreover, most employees have been happily working there between 5-10 years. It was easy to see why.
Everyone we met had a special role that they took great pride in. From the leather cutter tinkering on the die cut machine, to the woman sewing the pleated corner of our interior lining, everyone worked together beautifully. It was astounding to see such high quality products being made right before our eyes.
We’re excited to have our backpack made on the same operating line as major brands and know we can trust our partners for the long term. We’re still hoping to have the backpacks next month. In the meantime, check out the short video and photos below to learn more about how our backpacks are made.
Don't Let Your Bag Weigh You Down
Ah yes, autumn is here—a time for cashmere sweaters, vibrant leaves, and, of course pumpkin spice lattes. (Unless you live in California, where we are finally getting a taste of, well, summer.) The kiddos are back to school, and their backpack are already swelling with books and supplies.
Growing up, we couldn’t wait to purchase our new faithful backpack that would serve as a guardian for everything we thought to be sacred. We used anything—patches, keychains, pins—to accessorize our bags and accentuate our personalities. But what we didn’t consider was the amount of weight we carried.
Children and adults should not be carrying more than 10% of their body weight in a backpack. And yet we often do. In fact, citing the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reported that more than 28,100 individuals were treated for injuries related to backpacks in 2014 and that more than 8,300 of those injuries involved kids and teens ages 5 to 18. Too much weight leads to poor posture, pinches nerves, and back and neck pain.
Whether you’re a college student or working professional, check to make sure you’re not overloading your bags. In addition:
1. Keep the heaviest items low and closest to the center of the body near the spine.
2. Avoid having the backpack lower than four inches from the waist.
3. Remember to use both straps and keep them tightened.
4. If you find yourself leaning forward then you probably need to lighten to load. (Leaning to support the weight can strain the back.)
At P.MAI, we went through dozen of iterations specifically on the dimensions of our backpacks. Why? Because we wanted to ensure that it was large enough to carry your essentials without being too large that we’d be tempted to overpack. Be conscious about what you truly need to carry on a daily basis. We want to help you simplify, beautify, and edit your life. A healthy spine is a beautiful one! Carry on, beautifully.
What’s in a Name: Behind the Valletta
It was a glorious sunny day in July of 2014. Our ship glided gently into Malta’s Grand Harbour, and I fought every urge to pull a Rose from Titantic and pretend to fly. I was greeted immediately by salty winds, a panorama of the Mediterranean, and the sounds of church bells ringing in the distance. ((Exhale))
The stunning island nation of Malta bursted with culture and history. Colorful banners adorned the streets to celebrate the summer festivals, and homes boasted freshly painted doors in preparation.
I fell in love instantly.
With its Mediterranean cuisine, perfect climate, and relaxed way of life, Malta was paradise. But what drew me in wasn’t the luxurious lifestyle, but rather the richness of its history, manifested by the splendor of 16th century buildings and structures that have been so carefully preserved within an urban environment.
Beneath its centuries-old cracks were layers of histories, ranging from Roman to Norman to French and British, all shaping what Malta is today. For example, its language is a linguistic cocktail that sounds Arabic with half of its vocabulary coming from Italian and mixes of French and English.
I strolled through its capital, Valletta, pausing inside the famous St. John’s Co-Cathedral, an impressive treasure of Baroque art and architecture. Built in the 1570s, the interior is extremely ornate and designed with intricate carved walls and painted figures that appear three-dimensional through shadowing. The most important masterpieces by Caravaggio are centrally displayed. But my favorite part were the eight chapels, each one dedicated to a patron saint of the langues (regions). Here’s a photo of the Chapel of Italy, dedicated to Saint Catherine.
I also learned that because of its strategic location as a military and naval fortress, Malta was one of the most heavily bombed countries during WWII. Valletta’s streets and buildings, including the Royal Opera House, were left in ruins. And yet, despite having survived battles for hundreds of years, Valletta has remained strong and victorious.
I decided to name our first collection of backpacks after this historical town of Valletta. There’s something powerful and alluring about its resiliency and colorful riches. Our Valletta backpack represents the strength and beauty that comes from understanding ones roots and fighting for what you believe in.
That’s who we are. We celebrate each other’s cultural diversities, and we stand unafraid and unbridled by what tomorrow brings.
How to Look Business Chic with a Backpack
We had the pleasure of snapping some shots with our friend, fellow bosslady and blogger Cheryl. She’s the definition of business chic—managing communications at a global investments organization while curating fashion on her blog Haute in Cali.
Who says you can’t pair a backpack with a crisp blazer? Look no farther ladies. Cheryl shines in her monochromatic outfit that’s exudes power and confidence. The jacket paired with her shift dress is a perfect balance of work appropriate style.
She chose to offset the white-on-white ensemble with pair of heels that added a pop of color. Add a classy leather bag to the mix and you’ve got the a sleek look that’s ready for the boardroom.
Ready, Set, Launch!
What a whirlwind! With the support of amazing friends, family, and fans, P.MAI launched its Kickstarter campaign on June 1st and officially tipped the campaign in less than 60 hours—making our dream of stylish, functional women’s backpacks a reality!
We are nearing the halfway point of the campaign, and I couldn’t be more grateful and proud. I wanted to share some new photos of the Valletta backpack that we took around San Francisco. From structured silhouettes to more casual looks, our work bags are versatile enough for any style.
Nichole from Who Goes Wear looks sleek and sophisticated pairing her long, tuxedo style blazer over a midi slip, creating a black beauty look. She makes carrying a laptop bag look so effortless. Definite boss lady status.
I also had fun toting around our gorgeous cognac backpack around San Francisco in between meetings.
That’s it for now. As always, please give a shout if you have any questions or comments. And please share the campaign with friends, family, and coworkers. We hope they’ll love our leather bags as much as we love designing them.