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Working Together in Seattle

All 47 of us here at TOM BIHN — design, manufacturing, shipping, customer service, photography, web team — work in the same 16,000 square foot location. We collaborate, problem-solve and innovate in ways that are only made possible by sharing the same space. We think this results in a better bag for you, and it’s more fun for us too.


Photo: We took half a day off from our usual work to become CPR/First Aid Certified.

How We Began

When Tom was 10 years old, he asked his parents for help in getting the equipment he wanted for hiking and camping. They suggested two options: get an after-school job and earn money to buy it, or "just figure out how to make it yourself." Tom chose the second option. His grandmother had an old Singer home sewing machine which his brother Dan helped get running; Tom's mom taught him how to sew and his dad provided the foundations of the necessary engineering.

And the rest is history: Tom has spent the last 40 years designing and making backpacks, travel bags, and briefcases.

Photo: Tom sewing in his garage workshop, circa 1983.

You

You're as much part of this as we are.  I mean, think about it: the fact that you buy our bags allows us to exist as a company. And that you use our bags and provide constructive feedback on how they either work or don’t work for you helps us to build a better bag. We literally couldn't be doing what we do without you. Thank you.

Our Own Way

Here's a few things to know about us and how we work:

Our company is big enough that we can do cool things like develop our own fabrics while small enough that it still feels like we’re one big family. Our capacity is limited and we don't have plans to significantly increase it. That means that you can expect many of our bags to be In-Stock while other bags are In Production. Read more about that here.

Our creativity is what drives us — and we make space for it. Doing stuff like working on new designs, developing new materials, improving existing internal procedures, programming our own software, updating the website, taking new photos — we do it ourselves because A) we’re kinda control freaks and B) we love our work.

We think experience counts. Tom has spent over four decades designing and making bags. In his early days, he often repaired bags made by other manufacturers. That’s a whole lotta learning over many years about what works — and what doesn’t — when it comes to bag design and fabrication. We use that experience to make a bag that will better serve you.

Our Philosophy

Back in 2013, we wrote down some aspects of our company philosophy and made it into a book. Some of the people we work with asked us to make a public version and in 2016, we did.

Here's an excerpt:

"Coworkers, boss, manager, customer, delivery person and anyone else you deal with during your work day: imagine yourself in one of their positions and try to see things from their perspective. Gain some understanding of what it looks like on the other side of things. And, hey, don’t just imagine it: if you wonder something, ask. Being curious is a wonderful thing to be: it frees you from the burden of thinking you know everything! Ask Bob our UPS driver: “How’s the holiday season busyness going so far for you?” or, ask him if it works better for him if we stack boxes “this way” versus “that way.” Most folks will be pleasantly surprised by how you're paying attention."

Read more: Our Company Philosophy

The Crew

Cody: Bag Expert

Former self defense instructor. Traded punching bags for travel bags!

Lucy: Assistant Shipping Lead

Lucy loves playing soccer, digging holes, and chasing her cat around the house.

Fiona: Happy Hiker

Fiona is now almost 1-1/2 years old! She loves playing tug, swimming and going on hikes.

Pebbles: Always Happy!

Pebbles comes to work with Aracelia every day.

Luming: Sewing Crew

Luming's ideal evening: movies and homemade cookies.

Mike: Customer Service+Shipping Manager

Mike loves to cook and play outside as much as possible.

Kat: Bag Expert

Kat loves cats, musicals, zombies and most nerdy pursuits of happiness.

Fong: Sewing Floor Manager

Tom says Fong is one of the smartest people he's ever met.

Ben: Materials Manager

History major. Builds his own motorcycles. Was a Naval Aircrewman.

Ling: Seamstress

Ling likes to cook traditional recipes and fruit dishes.

Son: Sewing Machine Mechanic

Son can fix anything.

Rudi: Seamstress

Rudi's idea of the perfect Sunday: reading the newspaper and gardening.

Irma: Fabric Cutter

Irma likes to take vacations (we miss her quite a bit) and listen to Mexican music.

Aravelia: Quality Assurance Lead

Velia's favorite movie is Alice in Wonderland.

Ying: Sub-Assembly Prep

Ying loves to spend time with her family and grandchildren. And she loves watching tv!

Abdullahi: Bartacker/QA

Abdul likes soccer. In fact, he plays it every weekend.

Maria: Seamstress

Maria's favorite tv show is Sábado gigante

Edelmira: Sub-Assembly Prep

Edelmira prefers Mexican music above all other kinds.

Chun: Seamstress

Chun is an expert on Seattle's best Dim sum restaurants.

Wing: Seamstress

Wing's passion is music.

Zhong: Seamstress

Zhong's favorite color is pink.

Lulu: Quality Assurance

Lulu's favorite movie is The Lion King.

Thuy: Seamstress

Thuy loves to travel, near and far.

Yanhua: Seamstress

Yanhua loves listening to Chinese music.

Kim: Office Overlord

Kim believes in karma and random acts of kindness.

Kasper: Goofball

Kasper is a 2-1/2 year old Irish Wolfhound mix going on six months.

Tao: Seamstress

Tao is an accomplished knitter. To relax, she cooks, specializing in amazing seafood dishes.

You

Yeah, you! You're part of our crew, too.

Tim: Warehouse Lead

Although Tim lives in the city, he'd someday like to live on a small farm.

June: Production Emeritus

June retired as Production Manager here at TOM BIHN in 2013. She's a legend here and still comes back to visit sometimes.

Di: Seamstress

Di likes to spend time with her grandchildren. And go shopping!

Andrea: Quality Assurance

Andrea loves to dance (to Spanish music!) and plays volleyball.

Kieu: Seamstress

Kieu likes to go on urban walks. The secret to her good health? Eating lots of vegetables from her own garden.

Ichiro: Mountaineer

Ichiro is a happy and vocal Lab/Husky mix. He's most at home hiking in the mountains but is pretty ok with hanging out at the factory.

Tam: Seamster

Tam loves to watch soccer, travel, and listen to a wide variety of music.

Honguyen: Seamstress

Honguyen bakes amazing things. Amongst her specialties: cupcakes.

Darcy Gray: Chief Creative Officer and CEO

Most unusual hobby: hiking at night.

Lisa: Sewing Floor Manager

Lisa likes traveling to other countries and working in her garden.

Canh: Seamstress

Canh is masterful at making delicious Phở. We're trying to get her to share her recipe with us!

Nik: Director of Operations, Designer

Kitties and robots.

Dau: Seamstress

Dau loves traveling to and throughout Vietnam.

Matt: Shipping Lead

Matt moved back to Seattle after 5 years in Southern California. Matt is cold all of the time.

Sheng: Seamstress

If Sheng's not at work, she's probably playing tennis or doing Karaoke.

Mo-Fong: Seamstress

Mo-Fong is an adventurous traveler and especially likes to visit countries she's never been to before.

Tom Bihn: President, Founder, Designer

Tom's favorite book is Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean, and he plays the accordion.

Yin Mei: Seamstress

Mei likes to play Candy Crush. She's an accomplished cook and her specialties are baked chicken and cakes.

Candi: Seamstress

Candi plays the piano beautifully.

Luu: Seamstress

When she's not sewing at work, Luu loves to sew her own projects at home. She's also an excellent cook.

Matthew: Documentation Lead

Matthew loves games of all sorts. When he's not out exploring the city (and sometimes while he is) you can usually find him playing a game of some sort.

Araceli: Fabric Inspector/Spreader

When she's not at work, Araceli likes to sing, dance, and play the guitar.