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Hold Everything with Esperos Bags & Backpacks

It’s not often that a line of bags appeals equally to men and women, and goes from the office to the gym, school, the market, and on vacation with equal versatility. Rarer still are bags that are functional and beautiful, and that also give the buyer a chance to do good simply by making a purchase. Esperos, an independent company out of Austin, Texas, makes backpacks, totes, briefcases, and more that fit both all of these bills, with style to spare.

 

Oliver Shuttlesworth, a former advertising and marketing exec, founded Esperos—the name is a derivation of the Spanish verb “to hope”—on the simple notion of pairing his passion for education with his skill for business. In researching education issues around the world, he realized that there are countries where school costs just $20 per year per student, but many families can’t afford the fee. He hit on the idea of creating stylish backpacks, with part of the proceeds going to charities that fund education in third-world countries.

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“What I really wanted from the very beginning was a product that could appeal to a very wide demographic,” Shuttlesworth says. “I looked at some companies that I thought did a good job with simple, utilitarian design—Apple and Toms, for example. I also wanted my products to be a little bit different.”

 

The result is clean, streamlined, canvas exteriors in punchy colorblocks, with contrasting web handles and leather trims. Esperos bags feature several pockets, including a hidden zipper pocket for a cell phone or wallet, and padded compartments for laptops, but eschew the current trend of dozens of organizer pockets. Shuttlesworth notes, “I believe in the idea of carrying just the necessities for the day”—rather than overloading the bag and possibly causing injuries.

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Esperos released its flagship product, the Classic Backpack, in 2011. The first order of 50 quickly sold out after a profile on the Today Show. The timeless, basic Everyday Tote followed in 2012. These have since been joined by the spacious Market Tote, Weekend Warrior duffel,  the Wayfarer crossbody/tote hybrid, durable Voyager laptop bag, and just-released Porter, a briefcase that’s bound to turn heads in the boardroom. Priced from $49.99 to $124.99, Esperos bags are currently sold in Whole Foods and in a handful of specialty boutiques, but have yet to hit the mainstream.

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Crafted of U.S.-manufactured canvas at a fair-labor factory in Shenzhen, China, most Esperos bags are machine washable (styles with leather trim are spot clean only) and have a smooth finish that resists dust collection. They also wear handsomely, resulting in a vintage-look ruggedness over time. Best of all, 10 percent of each bag sale goes toward funding children’s education in the developing world, allowing the user to be part of the global change movement and, as the company’s tagline puts it, “carry hope.”

 

Visit Esperos to view the full bag and backpack collection.

—Robin Catalano

 

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