New Entrepreneur Winter 2020
“Anything that is to age well needs special care – including luxury handbags. That’s why we created Bagpad.”
Marielle Kangasniemi, Owner, Bagpad
Bagpad was founded in 2018 with the aim of solving the issue of keeping handbags in their original perfect shape.
Bagpad is committed to do a part to save the planet: recyclable packaging and biodegradable materials.
“Currently the method used for this is filling the bags with plastic and paper. This is something that Bagpad wants to change and hence provide a more sustainable solution.”
About Marielle Kangasniemi
My origins are from Finland, where I went to school and studied Business at the School of Economics. During this time I also spent one semester concentrating on Fashion Marketing at a London University. This is where I got introduced to the world of Fashion and Luxury.
After graduating I continued to specialise in Fashion Management in Stockholm. But there is no comparison to London as a Luxury Market, so I decided to come back and do my Master’s degree in Luxury Brand Management at Istituto Marangoni. From Marangoni, I got a network of friends, who are now based all around the world and work in different areas of fashion. I also acquired professional contacts that led me to work for brands like Armani, Roland Mouret, Max Mara and Amanda Wakeley amongst others.
Meet Marielle Kangasniemi
1. Marielle, what made you start a business like Bagpad?
My goal has always been to start my own company, and to use all my knowledge about the luxury fashion industry that I’ve gained from my education. As I started to buy more expensive handbags I noticed that they also needed something to keep them in shape while not in use, in order to protect the material from creasing and getting ruined. I researched and asked all my friends but no one had found a more elegant option than using plastic or tissue paper. Surprisingly, many of the big luxury brands also sell their new handbags filled with plastic or paper.
So like any good business idea, which are usually born from the need to find a solution to a problem, this was also the case with Bagpad.
The inspiration for the design of the Bagpad comes from the iconic Hermès Birkin bag, which is a bag that really needs support when it’s not in use. So the first Bagpad was custom-made to fit the Birkin bag, but now we offer Bagpads to fit any designer handbag
2. What is unique about your business?
Bagpad is a sustainable and elegant option to preserve the shape of luxury handbags. All Bagpads are locally handmade in the UK, using only the best quality materials. The Bagpads are specially designed for each handbag and we offer bespoke personalisation with monogramming. They also protect against humidity and keeps your handbag scent free. Our design is unique and we offer the best handbag shaper out there.
3. What challenges have you faced until today?
There are many challenges that entrepreneurs face everyday, but one of the biggest ones is to find the time to do everything. You need to learn how to prioritise but sometimes it can be hard because everything feels important. So asking for help and finding the right people to do it is vital. If only I could clone myself!
As we are a worldwide business already, coordinating publicity campaigns in various luxury magazines and online in different countries can also sometimes be challenging. Building a global brand from scratch has been an amazing learning experience and within a year we have already sold to 20 countries and had visitors from over 130 countries; so I can confirm that the problem of keeping handbags in shape is in fact a worldwide phenomenon.
4. Are you looking to expand your business geographically or add new products lines?
In a short time the company has already proven to be a success, showing that there is a need for a product like the Bagpad. This is proven by the fact that we have many returning satisfied customers.
There are however always new opportunities to analyse and we are continually looking for new inspiration and following the demand on the market. Evolving the brand and the product is key for success.
5. Name 3 top skills to become a success entrepreneur?
“Flexibility – as an entrepreneur there are no working hours, ie. you work 24/7 so you need to have a flexible mindset.
Courage – you need to believe a 100% in yourself and in your business idea.
To trust your instincts – you often don’t have time to analyse too much and need to be able to make quick decisions”.
The Bagpads are carefully measured to fit any designer handbags in order to keep them in their original shape.
6. What motivates or inspires you?
Seeing the result and receiving positive feedback from customers is by far the best inspiration and motivation. There is nothing better than the fact that your customers also love your product and that you have been able to create an elegant and sustainable solution for them.
Another great way to be inspired is by hearing stories from other successful people. Either by reading or talking to them, you can always learn something or get new ideas to implement in your own way. Staying active socially and in contact with your network is essential.
7. To what do you attribute your success?
Our success comes from being unique and introducing a top quality product that’s needed on the market. We have found a solution to a problem that many people worldwide have.
Our small company structure and producing locally also gives flexibility and the possibility to adapt quickly to the demand of the market. Because of this we can offer custom-made and personalised products, each Bagpad carefully measured according to the bag.
8. Where do you see Bagpad in 10 years?
In the constantly growing luxury market there will always be opportunities for new luxury products. Only the luxury handbag market has grown to £35 billion already and is going up each year.
This means that there’s a lot of room for Bagpad to grow on a global level, providing the best quality products for luxury handbag owners, while at the same time helping reduce the use of plastic.
9. Entrepreneurialism is something you are born with or can be learned?
You can learn a lot of things but your personality qualities need to match with your business, you need to find a business idea that you feel comfortable working with everyday and every hour. In other words you need to love what you do – only then will you succeed.
10. How do you balance work and life?
My work is my life. When you start a new company and you love what you do, work and life goes hand in hand. There are so many different things you work on at all times, everyday is completely different and constantly changing. The beauty of having your own business is that you never get bored.
11. What are your hobbies?
I would love to have more time for hobbies..! If I did I would play tennis, go horseback riding, do yoga and skiing.
12. Which company do you admire?
Hermès for the quality – they are leaders on the luxury handbag market and with their timeless designs and superb quality you can never go wrong.
In terms of sustainability – Stella McCartney and Chopard show that you can create luxurious and beautiful things while also protecting the environment.
13. If you were to give advice to someone who is just startin up, what would that be?
Just start. Don’t waste too much time on planning because your plans will most likely change anyway. So it’s better to just start and get as many things done as possible. Then you can go back and revise. You also need to get yourself a good team of people you can trust and who are willing to do the work.
Don’t be afraid to fail, any experience makes you wiser and helps you grow. Turn any bad experience into an opportunity to learn how you can do it better the next time.
Another thing is not to over expand too quickly before you understand your business. Focus on perfecting your core business before adding new things to it.
14. And finally Marielle, which social media is your favourite and why?
We currently live in the Instagram era, it’s the strongest tool for marketing and connecting with customers. We shall see what the next big thing will be.
Bagpad: Handmade in the UK with the finest craftsmanship and high quality materials
Photos copyright by: Bagpad