In 2017 I went to China with my good friend Louie to find a factory to make a product that I had an idea for. The idea was a reflective backpack that would be used to heighten visibility of pedestrians and cyclists. The idea came from a fabric swatch that I got of reflective fabrics, many of which were super durable, rigid, and high quality relative to all the reflective fabrics I had seen in actual available consumer products at the time. I couldn't figure out why these fabrics weren't being used - reflective fabrics (and reflective materials in general) are incredibly effective at standing out to motorists at night. The same materials are what allow traffic signs to stand out so well. It's an incredible proposition because they don't require electricity to work and they simply work well. So why weren't these fabrics available in functional apparel products?
I think the only answer that makes sense is cost - reflective polyurethane is a thick and substantive material. Reflective nylon (the common reflective fabric used for most consumer reflective apparel products) is substantially less expensive but also compromises on durability and rigidity. That being said, you wouldn't want a thick polyurethane clothing piece - thus making the perfect case for a backpack. Backpacks should be durable, substantial, rigid. At least that is how I feel.
When I embarked on this project I was a sophomore in college. I went to China the next year, as a junior. I got the backpacks delivered when I was a senior. This project taught me a valuable lesson; anything that you do will take a lot of time. Probably a lot more time than you initially think it will. Make sure it's a worthy pursuit.
The idea was a to design a great daily use backpack - that happened to be reflective. Of course, this would be the feature that would set it apart from the pack, but it needed to check off all the boxes that a solid daily use backpack does. The design process took me a long time but was by far the most fun part of the whole process. I also was able to really galvanize my graphic design and product photography skills. This isn't to say that I'm of professional proficiency, but it was fun making something that I was proud of and still am.
These backpacks will be available until they sell out. I've set them to a deeply discounted price in hopes of getting through them as fast as possible - I'd love to get them out of my parents' house :). I plan to use all the proceeds to finish my tiny house, which I'm very excited to continue to make progress on!
I still believe this backpack is likely the best reflective safety wearable available. I haven't seen anything close to the quality of the Supereflective backpack. Of course, it is the factory I have to thank for this. They really did a phenomenal job. It was incredible to see their operation in person - their craftsmanship was amazing. I still use this backpack anytime I need one, and I don't hesitate to pick it up anytime I'm riding a bike or walking at night.
Thank you so much for reading and I encourage everyone to tackle that project that's been rattling around in the back of your head for ages!