About this project
Your Friends Will Be Amazed By Your New Bag
We've taken our Rickshaw Performance Tweed™ to the next level with high-tech reflective yarn.
A few years ago we tried making bags with expensive wool tweed, only to discover that the bags wore out quickly when subjected to everyday use. We were disappointed with the performance of the fabric, but we fell in love with the classic herringbone and houndstooth patterns.
Undeterred, we worked with one of the few remaining upholstery fabric mills in the United States to develop our own Rickshaw Performance Tweed™, made with rugged polyester yarns. Today we offer both designs in myriad colors.
Last year we discovered a new and innovative reflective yarn, and immediately dreamed of REFLECTIVE Performance Tweed™. The reflective yarn is expensive, and challenging to weave, but we found an entrepreneurial mill in North Carolina to help us develop this exciting new fabric.
A few months ago we created our first fabric samples — just enough yardage to make prototypes of our popular Sutro Backpack, Zero Messenger Bag, and a few smaller items. We were blown away by the results. Even in ambient light the backpack "shimmers" — and in the dark, the bag explodes with reflectivity when illuminated. The fabric is visibly special in both daylight and darkness.
Watch this video of Rickshaw REFLECTIVE Performance Tweed™ in action...
Let's get started...
Now we're appealing to the Kickstarter community to help us launch our new REFLECTIVE Performance Tweed™ collection. The solid reflective fabric is extravagant, but stunning. For a more affordable alternative, we created a striped version using much less reflective yarn. We also tested five fabric colors — Black, Blue, Red, Purple and Green. Our base funding milestone allows us to produce the minimum yardage of Black. If we exceed our goal, we'll add as many of the other colors as we can afford. Let's see how it goes.
Our new reflective fabric is absurdly expensive — far too expensive for mass-market products from mainstream bag companies with standard retail mark-ups. That's where we come in. We're a small, independent company with big ideas, our own sewing factory in San Francisco, and no outside shareholders telling us what we can and can't do. We're determined to make this fabric a reality, even if just for a few passionate enthusiasts. So, we're offering our Kickstarter backers special pricing to cover the incremental cost of the fabric.
Mark gives a close-up view of the fabric...
About the Rewards (Backpacks and More!)
We're offering our two most popular bags, the Sutro Backpack and the Medium Zero Messenger, in either Solid Reflective or Striped Reflective Black herringbone fabric. We're also offering a few smaller items, including a hip pack and phone case. Since the solid reflective fabric is so expensive, we have an Early Bird special for the first 50 solid reflective backpacks and messenger bags. If we exceed our funding goal, we'll start adding colors — but we'll deal with that later.
Mark describes the products in our Rewards Overview video...
Backpack: The pièce de résistance of this project is our Sutro Backpack. Your friends will covet your bag as soon as they lay eyes on it. The solid reflective fabric adds $80 to the material cost of the bag, which regularly sells for $225 in our standard nylon fabric. We've also added our waterproof xPac sail cloth to the interior, making this a 24-7, all-weather workhorse of a bag. Priced at standard mark-ups, the Solid Reflective Sutro Backpack would retail for $450. That's crazy expensive. We're offering the Solid Reflective Sutro Backpack to the first 50 backers for the once-in-a-lifetime price of $199 — that's less than our regular Sutro Backpack. You read that right. We're that determined to light up the night with our new Reflective Performance Tweed™.
Messenger Bag (added Large size 9/16/14): For those who prefer a shoulder bag, we're offering a simplified version of our popular Zero Messenger Bag in four sizes — mini, small, medium and large — with reflective tweed on the outside and waterproof xPac on the inside. The Medium and Large Messengers include two buckles on the flap for extra security. You can add accessories, like interior pockets, laptop sleeve, cross-strap and strap pad (please see the FAQs below for instructions for "add-ons" and accessories). Like the backpack, we're offering an Early Bird Special ("EBS") on the Solid Reflective Medium & Large Messenger for the first 50 backers.
Commuter 2.1 Laptop Briefcase (added 9/16/14): By popular demand, we've added our ever-popular Commuter 2.1 Laptop Briefcase. You can see a detailed description here. We're offering an Early Bird Special (EBS) on the Solid Reflective Commuter for the first 50 backers.
Hip Pack: Here's a functional reflective accent for your waist. Some people love the hands-free convenience of a belt pack. Just don't call it a "fanny pack". Reflective tweed on the outside, waterproof xPac on the inside.
“Special K” Hip Pack Pouch (Added 9/26/14): Introducing a zipper pouch custom-sized for the Hip Pack (as described in Update #16), and equally useful in any bag. Now available as a "Special K" pair — one neon green, one black — for the special Kickstarter pledge value of $20 (retail value $30). Featuring two layers of Made In USA Cordura® nylon, bound interior seams, beefy YKK zippers, and our "Special K" Kickstarter commemorative labels. The zipper top provides added security for any valuables in your Hip Pack. The boxed bottom allows the Hip Pack Pouch to stand-up straight on any flat surface, making it a perfect case for cosmetics, electronic accessories, dog-walking paraphernalia and personal miscellany.
Please Note: The Hip Pack Pouch fits nicely in the Hip Pack (and larger bags). It does NOT fit in the Mini Messenger.
Here's a video and a few photos...
Phone Case (Added BIG Phone Case 9/15/14): With the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, we have tweaked our standard case ($29 reward level) to give a little more room for the iPhone 6 with a form-fitting protective leather or silicone case, and added a separate "plus size" BIG Phone Case ($35 reward level) for the iPhone 6 Plus and similar "phablet"-class devices. Please see Update #4 for some fun process photos from our fit test. Both Phone Cases attach to any shoulder strap up to two inches in width. Reflective tweed on the outside, waterproof xPac on the inside.
Mark gives the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus the "Pocket Test"...
Strap Pad (Added 9/19/14): Additional comfort and visibility, all in one. Thanks to a suggestion from one of our Kickstarter fans, we added a touch of reflective tweed to our custom strap pad. Now available at the special $20 reward level. If you'd like to add-on a Reflective Strap Pad (or any other item) to your order, simply click the blue "Manage Your Pledge" button, increase your total $ pledge by the incremental amount, and send me a message to let me know what you added. DO NOT change your original reward selection, just the $ amount. Thank you! If you're adding the strap pad to an international bag pledge, you do not need to increase the shipping fee, since there is no additional volume and negligible incremental weight.
“Special K” Utility Pouch (Added 9/23/14): Get organized, in any bag! As described in our Update #11, we’ve added a special version of our Utility Pouch to go along with this project. I use several of our Utility Pouches to organize the miscellany in my bag, and to help me move from bag to bag as I test new prototypes (yes, I have a fun job).
Our Utility Pouch measures 10.5-inches (26.7cm) x 6-inches (15.2cm) (flat), and fits a medium Moleskine journal and some pens, a collection of cables and adapters, or whatever loose items you don't want floating around in your bag. Use it as an in-bag organizer or stand-alone journal folio, wallet or clutch. For this project, we're making two "Special K" Utility Pouches: a BLACK Utility Pouch with fluorescent green interior, and a fluorescent GREEN Utility Pouch with a gray interior. The Utility Pouches are made from our Made In USA Cordura® nylon, and both feature our special Kickstarter commemorative label. The bright green one is easy to see in your bag. The black one is a little more subtle as a hand-carry accessory. Both feature our Kickstarter commemorative label (described in Update #10).
Please Note: The Utility Pouch fits nicely in the Small Messenger (and larger bags). It does NOT fit in the Hip Pack or the Mini Messenger.
We have a special deal for our current backers — you can add our "Special K" Utility Pouch to any existing pledge for just $10 each. You can add as many as you like. Please specify Black or Green (or both). Simply use the blue "Manage Your Pledge" button to add $10 to your pledge amount for each pouch, and send me a message to let me know your color selection.
If you'd like to back our project, but already have too many bags, and just want to get organized with a "Special K" Utility Pouch, you can pledge $15 for the first one ($20 retail value), and add more for $10 each.
Rickshaw Bagworks is a San Francisco-based manufacturer of custom messenger bags, backpacks, briefcases, tote bags, laptop/tablet sleeves and related accessories. Rickshaw manufactures its own products in its own cut and sew factory in the historic Dogpatch neighborhood in San Francisco. Rickshaw was founded in 2007 by Mark Dwight.
Watch this Company Profile video produced by Stanford University...
Risks and challenges
We make our own bags in our own factory, right here in San Francisco. We've been in business for over seven years, so we know how to get this job done. We were successful with our first Kickstarter project, and met our delivery schedule. Our fabric manufacturing partner has been in business for over 80 years, so they clearly know their business. Together, we have the equipment and the expertise, so once funded, we're ready to weave, cut and sew. If this project exceeds our funding goals, the production may take longer than expected. But rest assured, we will not seek assistance from a third-party manufacturer — it will just take us longer to make your bags in our own factory. Thanks for your support!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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