Hand-made Commuter Bags
Learn how one 417-lander is hand-making commuter bags out of reclaimed materials and selling them to city dwellers all across the country.
While browsing the internet one day, Isaac Neale stumbled upon a blog post that featured someone who made messenger bags out of recycled materials, and it inspired him to buy a sewing machine and try it out.
Neale is the founder and owner of Commute Bags, a company that sells hand-made bags and accessories for the modern urbanite. The bags are primarily made out of recycled truck tarps that were once used on flatbeds and tractor-trailers. “I tried a lot of products,” Neale says. But after making bags from materials such as recycled vinyl banners and canvas, he learned that the truck tarps were the way to go. “Nothing else had that durability,” Neale says.
With a sewing machine located in the back of The Hub, a coffee and bicycle shop where he also works, Neale and his intern, Katy Jesse, work to create an inventory of commuter messenger-style bags, wallets, smaller bags and accessories. The items are all made of reclaimed materials and are available at a variety of price points, with wallets ranging from $10–30 and messenger bags starting at $150.
Neale can customize items with things such as leather straps and accessories, and he’s made items such as iPad sleeves, keyboard sleeves and even straps for tripods. Neale’s background is in design and engineering, which he says isn’t a far stretch from what he does now. “Working and creating with fabric isn’t too different,” he says. While most of his business is based locally, Neale has also sold bags to residents of many major cities from Seattle to New York.