Photo: Lo & Sons
Helen Lo founded luxury bag company Lo & Sons after she couldn’t find any fashionable, functional travel bags. She convinced her sons, Derek and Jan, to quit their jobs in advertising and product design research, respectively, and get the startup off the ground in December 2010.Production tripled from 2011 to 2012, and Lo & Sons sold out of its bags for the first three months in 2012.
Nearly 100 per cent of their sales are online, though they do have small shops in Charlottesville and Chicago. The original styles — the OG and TT — retail at $295 and $260, and the other bags are priced just under $200. They just launched their spring/summer collection at Soho House in New York City last week.
Leading up to the launch, we asked the three founders to document a week in their respective cities — New York, Beijing, and Heidelberg, Germany — to get a glimpse of how they manage to run the company themselves (there are no other employees).
They even design the bags. “We have a user-centered design process, which puts the user, not the designer, first,” says Jan. “Apple has been a big inspiration. They make products that are intuitive.”
After living in Beijing for four years, Jan now bounces back and forth between NYC and Asia throughout the year. Here he's looking at materials for new bag styles in the Sham Shui Po neighbourhood of Hong Kong.
Back in New York, Derek works out of a Nolita office that he shares with Svpply.com and Skillshare.com.
And working from Germany, Helen is wearing her signature OG bag on the train. It's designed to be a functional, yet stylish, travel bag.
That means paying special attention to the craftsmanship of the bags. Here, the leather logo patch is getting ready to be stitched onto the interior of the bag at the factory.
The three do all the design work themselves. Here Derek is making sketches for a new bag designed to hold SLR cameras.
A few days later Derek meets up with Jan for the completion of a production run in Asia. Like most startups, they share a factory with other smaller companies.
They chose to launch their spring/summer collection with a trunk show at the SoHo House. Jan says these events are especially important for the company since they get to interact with customers face-to-face.
The next day they meet up at Jan's New York City apartment. The three try to meet up at least every other month. Tomorrow, it's back to the airport — and onto designing the next collection!
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