Since opening Baggu's first-ever shop in Williamsburg last month, founder Emily Sugihara has enjoyed watching customers ponder over which of her stylishly functional eco-bags they want to take home. "They'll be holding a bunch of them, and they'll put one back and try another one, and look at them all together," Sugihara says. "I think people feel more ownership of the bags because they're making their own little set."
Now based in Brooklyn, Baggu was born in San Diego in 2007, when Sugihara and her mother set out to make beautifully simple alternatives to plastic grocery bags that people would actually look forward to using. Releasing its first nylon bag in eight colors, the brand is now known for its vast array of colorful daypacks in everything from tie-dye to vibrant neons, over-the-shoulder canvas totes called "Duck Bags," and various sizes of the original, all reasonably priced and manufactured with minimal waste. Most recently, Baggu released a line of leather handbags and small leather pouches, made from the fabric cut from the bags' necklines.
Sugihara says the idea to open a Baggu retail store had been on the table for some time, but the company's decision three months ago to take over their current space on Wythe Avenue, just steps away from Baggu's offices, was mainly motivated by a need for meeting space. "If two people in the office wanted to talk," she says, "there was no way to do that without distracting the other 11 people."
Turning the meeting space into a summer shop seemed like a real possibility once the block began attracting more foot traffic, with the spring openings of nearby stores Pilgrim Surf + Supply and Mociun. Baggu's shop then came together rather quickly, says Sugihara. Just days before the opening, she and creative director Ellen Van Der Lean came up with the clever idea to display the bags on rope ladders and swings made from dowel rope and climbing rope (Sugihara is an avid climber).
The summer shop marks the first time Baggu's entire product line can be purchased in person from one location. New colors and styles become available at the shop before they appear on the web, simply because that's where the bags are delivered. At the moment, a number of Baggu pieces—such as a line of neon keychains and the pony hair edition of newly released drawstring bucket purse—are only available in the shop.
As always, Baggu has a number of collaborations in the works. In July, they will release a sturdy vinyl version of the Duck Bag, made by Brooklyn's weatherproof bag maker Mer Bags, which Sugihara says "makes a great beach bag." Baggu is also working with design duo Fredericks and Mae, who will incorporate the designers' horse hair tassels into a line of leather Baggu bags.
Already proving a successful addition to Williamsburg's burgeoning waterside promenade, Sugihara plans to keep the shop open at least through the winter holiday season. She is also keeping an eye out for permanent retail space that can stay open seven days a week.
Baggu Summer Shop
242 Wythe Ave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn , NY