Company Designer Name: Po Campo | “Bike and be Free!”
How did you get started? How did you come up with this design idea?
Emily and I are industrial designers by trade. We met in the dorm at the University of Illinois, and I went to the University of Illinois because it has a great program for industrial design. I worked for a year and a half at a company that produced luggage, lunch bags, and coolers, and for the past seven years Emily and I have been working together in branding and packaging design. We noticed that there weren’t any bike accessories that were really our style because we aren’t too crazy about sporty designs so we wondered, “why aren’t there any cute bags?” We thought we had the skills to do it ourselves, so that’s what we did when we set up our company.
What have been your biggest obstacles along the way?
While most of the soft goods production has moved overseas, this posed an obstacle because we wanted to manufacture locally. It was quite difficult to find the right materials, prices, and leasers. We’ve done it but it was a lot harder than we thought.
What has been your biggest success so far?
Our biggest success so far has been how well the product line is received. We get daily fan mail telling us how good our products are and how much fun it is to bike. And yes, I bike daily.
What’s next for your line?
We are working on products that will hold laptops, more specifically smaller pouches that will fill the gap between wanting a bag and not wanting a bag.
What is your typical day like?
Since I have a full time job, I go to work and then over lunch I work on Po Campo. I also work on the weekends, basically I work all the time. But a lot of the work is really fun, Emily and I look for materials together, we visit our customers to see how they are doing. I would say that Po Campo has brought Emily and I much closer together, we are better able to understand one another’s needs.
Why manufacture in Chicago?
We actually think about this a lot. I believe we are a nation full of very capable people, so I was curious to understand how manufacturing here works and whether or not it was possible to do successfully in Chicago. We also enjoy a lot of benefits from working here. For example, we visit the manufacturing facility over our lunch break and now we know them personally and even see pictures of their kids. We are also aware of the fact that transportation cycling is a very community oriented pastime and activity and it makes sense to support this group of individuals.
What is your philosophy of life?
My philosophy of life… nobody has actually asked me that question before. I would say “don’t give up.” Most of the value I get out of life comes from spending time with family and friends. I make sure to balance my social life with work, so I guess I view work as a balancing act.