San Francisco based Timbuk2 has been producing world-class, customized gear since their humble beginnings in the garage of founder Rob Honeycutt in 1989. Last year we told you about their “Life Cycle” program, which outlines the company commitments to sustainability. Since inception Timbuk2 has been able to donate, recycle or repair over 12,000bags. They have also assisted thousands of customers with DIY repair at home. We interviewed CEO Patti Cazzato to bring you more insight on how Life Cycle is a win-win for everyone.
How does the Life Cycle program complement what Timbuk2 is known for: bespoke urban-commuter style?
We are and have always been a company that hustles to pioneer new initiatives and designs that benefit our customers and community. Timbuk2’s soul and purpose is bound by a deeply held, resonant mission to empower consumers to invest in quality, built-to-last products that are sustainably manufactured in San Francisco and beyond.
The Life Cycle program is just another way we showcase our commitment to being a leader in the industry and bettering our community.
“We have always hustled to pioneer initiatives that benefit our customers and community.”
Timbuk2 Life Cycle is the most responsible thing we can do environmentally—extend the life of our existing products—and we are both passionate and proud of the reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, and reimagine aspects of the program. ‘
It’s the program we’re most proud of and we hope people find it both useful and inspiring.
With so many outdoor brands promoting their sustainable practices, what helps Timbuk2 stand out from the crowd?
Our goal is to have zero bags to landfill and that means we need to encourage our customers to buy less and to buy better.
We do this by coming out with great bags that are not only functional but also fashionable.
No one wants to dump his or her prized Timbuk2 bag. It’s important to our customer that their old bags are finding new homes or being recycled and repurposed.
Timbuk2 products have a lifetime warranty; we stand behind the legendary quality and craftsmanship of all our products, but we also embrace the wild, twisty ways of life.
If there is a defect in the materials or workmanship of your Timbuk2 product (gasp!), we have a full-time sewer in our San Francisco factory dedicated to repairing bags.
“We stand behind legendary quality and craftsmanship of all our products.
Now, let’s say you’re running a lean closet and don’t want your Timbuk2 bag anymore. What’s special about the Timbuk2 Life Cycle program is that we’ll help you find a new home for it through our partners at Yerdle, TerraCycle and a couple other nonprofit partners in the Bay Area who are in need of your Timbuk2 bag.
If you’re looking to get really creative with your bag, a pillar of the Life Cycle program is “Reimagine”, which provides inspiration to create something entirely new out of a Timbuk2 bag. People have done some crazy things with their bags, including turning it into this.
And another, and very important differentiator for us is that we evaluate the environmental impact of our materials. We do not—we will not!—use materials considered toxic by the global community. In addition to regularly assessing the materials we use, we constantly hunt for newer, better materials solutions.
Does Timbuk2 see collaboration as the key to achieving its sustainability goals?
As a company based in San Francisco and manufacturing here in the city, as well, we meet a lot of very cool, forward-thinking companies.
I think sustainability goals are inherent in any innovative company that strives for longevity.
For us, when looking at a potential partnership, the first question we ask ourselves is would we want to have a beer with them? From there, the opportunities are endless and have helped us create programs such as our Timbuk2 Life Cycle program.
“Looking at a potential partnership, the first question we ask ourselves is would we have a beer with them?
How does Timbuk2 stay profitable with a business model that encourages repair and reuse rather than buying new?
Our customers are super-loyal and are always coming to us for the latest and greatest because our bags are really, really good-looking. (Makes a Zoolander face.)
Joking aside, innovation and design really important to us. We have a product-design team of not only designers with a high-fashion background, but we also have industrial designers that add a new perspective of functionality and design, which I haven’t seen before in my 20-plus years in the fashion industry.
While Timbuk2’s sustainability efforts are impressive, we can’t imagine they didn’t come without challenges. What speed bumps have you encountered as CEO?
“Made in San Francisco” is the heart and soul of our business and culture, and we are one of the longest-standing manufacturers here.
Manufacturing in San Francisco is not cheap, but the city is fundamental to Timbuk2’s brand identity and business success.
Many American companies find it impossible to make things in America. Factory space, skill, machinery, and scale can be hard to find and can be prohibitively expensive.
“‘Made in San Francisco’ is the heart and soul of our business and culture.”
Timbuk2 pays above minimum wage and offer medical benefits. We have incredible employee loyalty including some who have worked in the factory since the company’s inception.
We’re incredibly grateful for our customers’ support of our mission to be part of something bigger. When someone participates in the Timbuk2 Life Cycle program, they are making a choice to be part of a larger movement—not only for the planet by keeping one less bag out of a landfill, but also by supporting U.S. urban manufacturing.