Emily & Joan Sugihara
April 20 2015
“Baggu” means bag in Japanese, which makes sense, as its founder is one quarter Japanese. Emily Sugihara started the company with her mom, Joan, in 2007. They wanted to make reusable shopping bags, but discovered when looking for manufacturers that they couldn’t just get 100 bags made, but had to commit to tens of thousands of units. It pretty quickly became a “real business.”
The original Baggu shapes are modeled after the iconic plastic grocery bag. In one year, a Baggu can replace the use of 300 to 700 disposable bags. Everything about their product is smart, simple, and environmentally conscious, or “sensibly stylish”.
The original nylon totes fold down neatly into little squares that you can stash in a handbag or even a pocket. Each bag can hold up to 50lbs and is assembled from one continuous piece of nylon to minimize material waste; the cut-out bits are used for the pouches that they fold down into. All of the leather styles are made in New York. Our favorites are the simple leather versions of the original grocery bag shape. Leather is saved by assembling these bags from two pieces of material, and then using the cut-out portions to make super useful zip pouches.
We’re on board with Baggu’s mission—to rid the world of disposable bags and replace them with beautiful, reusable ones. We’re also into their devotion to durability, making high quality, long lasting products so that we can all own less stuff. Most of all, we want to try their favorite sandwich.
What do you love about what you do?
We love working with such exceptional people, and we love seeing something we’re working on go from start to finish. It’s really satisfying to see somebody carrying one of our bags, and remember working out the details of it, picking its color, or even remembering when one of us had the idea to make it.
Where do you go for inspiration?
We are inspired by art, Yoko Ono, graphic design from the 1960s and 70s, and Japanese simplicity.
What is your favorite thing you’ve made, and why?
As a team, we’ll say the original standard Baggu bag. We all use them all day, every day, and they appeal to every kind of person. They are the single most useful thing we make, and they are beautiful to us in their simplicity. They are made for everyone!
And most importantly—What’s on your favorite sandwich?
We are all in love with the egg, pickled beet and arugula sandwich from the deli Dépanneur on the corner by our office in Williamsburg.