Attire Accessories - May/Jun 2018 (Issue 70)

spine.The shape contours perfectly to the back, distributing weight asymmetrically throughout the length of the bag, rather than pulling from one point on the shoulder. Intelligent internal and external pocket configuration that helps to spread weight around the bag and organises your life was honed and refined over subsequent years.The original HBB design was a runaway success in the US, with sales reaching over a million bags within five years. What challenges were overcome when the company was starting out? Starting any business is always a struggle, and I have certainly asked myself the ritual question, If I knew then what I know now, would I have embarked on this journey? However, we have been pretty lucky. We had a proven product (albeit in a different market) and tried and tested manufacturing relationships in Asia, which are maintained to this day.This allowed us to launch our company with a much broader offering than any start up might reasonably expect. With such a one-of-a-kind product there is also the difficulty of where exactly do we fit – is it a shoulder bag, a fashion accessory, a travel bag, a sports bag and so on. However this point of difference has proved to be an advantage; the brilliant thing about these bags is that they are all things to all women and men, and in retail terms the concept can slot easily into footwear, luggage, outdoor/travel, garden centres, boutiques, lifestyle stores, and complementary therapy clinics etc. Gaining traction in the extremely complex, competitive and fragmented UK and European markets has had its challenges, but we have also established distribution further afield.The Far East and Japan in particular love the Healthy Back Bag brand, and we are making good progress in Latin America. What sets your business apart from your competitors? It’s completely one-of-a-kind – it’s a bag with a story, is quirky and stylish with health benefits and an extraordinarily loyal customer base. Over a third of our customers have three or more. Our concept, design and production values remain consistently high and reliable, whether it’s a casual nylon version retailing at £49 or premium leather at £159. Our patented and trademarked design has remained largely unchallenged – we have spent a great deal of time and money making sure that this is the case! How important is your location and history to the company in its success? We could be based anywhere, but London does have its advantages, and we have always been based in Hackney – we were here way before it became achingly fashionable. London is a great hub to operate from, and we don’t have to lean too hard on our international distributors to get them to visit us.The history and heritage of The Healthy Back Bag is of course inextricably linked to its marketability and as such extremely important. Its quirky shape, intelligent pockets, comfort, and health benefits, not to mention the huge range of colours and fabrics, all have their roots in the original concept. How has the product offering changed over the years and how would you describe your current collection? Irwin Gaffin, who created the first Healthy Back Bag, was and is a master leather craftsman and the original HBB was in 60 ATTIRE