Meet Emily Sugihara, founder and CEO of Baggu.
After seeing a void in the market for sustainable, stylish reusable totes, Emily and her Mother Joan founded Baggu in 2007.
Back then, the choices for reusable bags were slim. The French market bag was available but more was needed and Emily and her mom were up for the task. They bet big on manufacturing large quantities in China so they could get the custom dyes they thought would appeal to their customer. Their first customers were 15 year olds that possess a lot of buying power, even if it is buying with their parents' money.
The sustainable bags were a hit and it paid off. The bright colors and fun patterns have become a statement for Baggu and appealed to the crowd that wanted sustainability but with fashion. It turns out that the Baggu customer is the same person that works at Baggu under Emily's leadership and entrepreneurial vision. If they want it, or need it, they believe their customer will want it.
Price has always been a consideration and is one of the reasons that Baggu customers keep coming back for more. They are affordable but not "cheap" and the products are known for their value and durability. The pricing strategy was well thought out and is evident today.
Emily grew up in Del Mar and enjoyed being creative and crafty with her mother while growing up. While she intended to go into finance and the University of Michigan, she ended up at the Parsons School of Design in New York and became a designer for J. Crew before founding Baggu.
“Being aware of our own environmental impact and expressing that in the products we buy, that’s no longer the trend it was when we started. Now it’s just part of our consciousness, our daily consumer lifestyle of making choices, and I think all this will continue because it’s just part of our culture.
“You don’t meet people who say, ‘Yeah, we tried eating healthy and organic and we changed our minds and went back to junk.’ People who’ve used a reusable shopping bag because they realize it’s better and looks better, too, they don’t go back. At least, I hope that’s the case,” she says with a laugh.