One Everyday Tote To Rule Them All
Michelle Kaminski is the founder of Bag & Bougie, a brand that focuses on creating beautiful, functional bags that are durable, machine washable and vegan. We love that Michelle’s designs are classic but reliable, perfect for everyday use!
Tell us a bit about your brand, Bag & Bougie? Bag & Bougie began with a vision to create something classic, simple, and functional. A product that would be machine washable, vegan and durable, and could be used in a variety of settings and situations. Our most popular tote is a no-fuss carryall tote bag that comes in a variety of colours and styles. With sailing rope detail added as handles and a matching cosmetic bag with every tote, you have both the functionality and style that you want. Although it’s large in size, you have the ability to cinch the sides with magnetic clasps - so you can make it smaller!
How did this all begin? In 2018, I was travelling overseas with a friend and although I was already employed as a HR Consultant, my entrepreneurial journey began on that trip. I made connections with different designers and unique fashion boutiques and I ended up finding this really nice neoprene tote. I spent weeks researching the material and I realized that there was a gap in the North American market, I couldn’t find a comparable multipurpose bag that was meant to age well and was timelessly chic.
Is that when you decided to make your own bags? Yes, that’s when I started to form my reusable and reliable ‘hold-all bag’ concept. I gave them to my friends to try and to get their feedback. The friends that tried the bag were travellers, students, parents, and many other things. I wanted to get real-world insight on what the ideal bag would entail. Shoulder straps? Water-bottle holder? Bag liner that doubled as a changing pad? No problem!
When did you decide to pursue it full-time? I decided after 1 year of building the brand and balancing my normal full-time job, to quit and pursue Bag & Bougie full-time instead. Although it had a lot of unknowns and risks, I knew that this leap of faith had a promising future. My boss at the time told me that if I didn’t quit to pursue b&b she would have to fire me!
What would you say your brand represents? The brand represents the classy everyday woman to the working mother, to the yoga-inspired, traveler, the baby mama, and to the individual simply looking to ramp up their style.
What do you love most about Bag & Bougie? Bag & Bougie is about more than just the products that we sell. It is a community for women of all ages. Though Bag & Bougie achieves the goal of connecting with potential customers, it is creatively and strategically curated to evoke a sense of community amongst its supporters. Repeatedly, I have been amazed by the Bag & Bougie community and what we have built.
You recently raised money for something very cool, tell us about it Most recently, b&b was able to turn over their factories and raise over 11,000 dollars in funds to provide surgical masks to our frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The power of social media and the Bag and Bougie community really proved to us how loyal our clients and followers are - they made our fundraising goals a reality.
How did you come up with the name? Sitting in my best friends basement, as I shared my new venture with her for the first time, she jokingly said, “You should call it Bag and Bougie, a play on words from the popular rap song, Bad and Bougie.” With no intention to grow the business to where it is today, I said “Sounds great!” I quickly created a logo with a close family friend of mine and started to sell my products to friends and family. The name quickly stuck and caught on amongst family, friends, and new customers.
Any milestone moments? My first partnership was definitely a milestone moment. I was approached to work with Rogers Media for the 2020 Grammy Awards. As a fan of music and the Grammys, this was truly a dream come true. This ‘big stage’ moment gave my brand the incredible exposure it needed to share amazing quality products with the rest of the world. After this, I launched with Indigo (Canada’s largest book, gift, and retail store) and AirMiles - two of the biggest companies in Canada and ones that I deeply admire. I felt then that my hard work and my accomplishments really paid off.
What’s next for Bag & Bougie? This Fall we are expanding our product line into mom and baby, where you will see a variety of new products to build on the classic b&b tote. This new collection will be a fashion-forward take on baby essentials. We seriously can’t wait!
What advice would you give other female entrepreneurs? Some advice that I would give to women who are starting their own business, is to not be afraid to take risks. Work with people in your community who you know or who inspire you – once you have that foundation and support system, it will be easy to gain the confidence you need to pursue your dream endeavour.