November 25, 2020

Update from our Seattle factory

A TOM BIHN crew member wearing a cloth face mask.
Trung is learning how to sign the American Sign Language sign for "Thank you." At the Seattle factory, as a safety measure, we are learning a few ASL signs so that we can communicate and connect with each other without talking.

Above: Trung is learning the sign for "Thank you" in American Sign Language. At the Seattle factory, as a safety measure, we are learning some basic ASL signs so that we can communicate and connect with each other without speaking. 

This is a holiday season unlike any other. Personally, we’re getting creative about how to share and celebrate — dropping off reheatable meals and good wine on the porch of friends and family, buying gift certificates from our favorite local shops and restaurants, ordering gifts online to be delivered directly to the recipients

Here at the Seattle factory, we’re continuing to make safety our focus. Distancing, remote work, staggered shifts, and our various other safety efforts are very important — they also reduce our efficiency somewhat. That reality, plus the fact that we’re continuing to design and make face masks, means we won’t have quite as many bags to restock during the holiday season as we had hoped. That said, a number of bags will be restocked, including the Truckasana yoga tote and the Shadow Guide 23. Click here for a full list of what's being stocked and when.

The Truckasana isn't just for yoga: it also makes a great knitting/crochet/craft tote.

The Truckasana isn't just for yoga: it also makes a great knitting/crochet/craft tote.

We know that this may be disappointing news for those of you who were hoping we’d be able to restock more bags this year. We totally get it: we love making bags. I mean, it’s what we’ve been doing for decades now — and there’s a joyful ease that comes with that kind of mastery. 

These are different times, of course. As long as our design and production skills can be useful in making cloth face masks — we have a new mask design that will debut in December, along with a Mask Head Strap that'll allow you to wear any of our masks so that the straps ride behind your head (instead of using the ear loops) — that will remain a priority. We feel pretty lucky to be able to design and sew something that can we can offer as a contribution during these tough times. And when times have been tough, we’ve thought about how, thanks to you, our customers, we’ve been able to give over 160,000 V1 Masks so far to food banks, public schools, tribal nations, and veteran's groups, amongst other communities.

Even when we’re very busy making masks, it doesn’t take up all of our production and design time. Nik designed four face masks this year — the V1, V2, V3 and V4 — and still found time to finalize the Shadow Guide 23 and Shadow Guide 33 backpack designs. In 2021, Nik and Darcy hope to begin work on a new knitting/crochet/craft bag design.

Tom designed the Truckasana yoga tote (debuting 11/30) and the Insigne backpack (debuting in early 2021); his new mask head-strap will debut soon. He's also working on designs for a gym bag, the Trinity travel bag, a Truck that holds a laptop, and a new messenger bag.

Looking ahead to 2021, there will be more new designs on the horizon, and potentially some reissues of vintage and classic TOM BIHN designs from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s — the Insigne is an updated take on a pack design Tom made back in the mid-70's. There will be a Guide's Edition Insigne and a Design Lab Edition Insigne.

Vintage TOM BIHN Duplex backpack; sewn by Tom back in the mid-1970's.

Above: a Duplex pack made by Tom when he was a teenager in the mid-1970's. The Duplex inspired the upcoming Insigne backpack. Tom decided to change the diagonal zipper of the front pocket to be a horizontal zipper because he found it easier to take his tablet in and out of the pocket that way.

Of course, so many new and new-ish offerings mean that we will need to retire some colors and designs: stay tuned for news on that. In the meantime, if there's a bag that's currently in-stock that you'd like to order, you may want to do so sooner rather than later.

All of this is possible thanks to you and your support and understanding. You tell us we make the best bags and masks and we’ll tell you — the people who buy our bags and masks happen to be some of the best people out there. You’re thoughtful and ask good questions, you tell us what works for you and what doesn’t, and you share lots of photos with us of your bags (and cats and dogs and kids!) 

Before we get even mushier, we’ll just stop there and say: thanks! Thanks for sticking with our small business and thanks for being you. We’re looking forward to 2021 and can’t wait to show you what we come up with next.

4 comments

Darcy - CEO - November 30, 2020

@John Thank you for your support and for this feedback. It means a lot and it does help to know what people appreciate about our company and designs. I’m glad you you’re as excited about the Truckasana as we are!

Darcy - CEO - November 30, 2020

@Eric Thank you, Eric. :)

John Serrão - November 30, 2020

I am an unabashed supporter of Tom Bihn and all things you make. I would buy everything you make because of your fierce commitment to quality and good design keeping us in mind. The Truckasana is an example of that.

Keep up the great work and continue to do what you do best and in the way you do. Everything about your company and company philosophy appeals to me.

I have no hesitation in recommending you to my family and friends.

Eric - November 29, 2020

I really appreciate you good folks and all that you do. Be safe, strong and know that you belong. My very best to the entire crew.

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We're the TOM BIHN crew: we design bags, make bags, ship bags, and answer questions about bags. Oh, and we collaborate on blog posts, too.