Two young New Zealanders have launched an online start-up, Elephant Stripes, selling a range of colourful travel gear – after a “re-think” of how women want to travel.
The pair launched Elephant Stripes in March 2016.
Elephant Stripes markets fashionable and functional travel gear for sale online. The product range includes suitcases, duffel bags, folding bags, packing cells, and cosmetic cases – all with the “Elephant Stripes twist” – combining fashion and function.
Now they’re well on track with a Kickstarter campaign, where they are taking pre-orders of their travel packs to raise the money to manufacture them. The campaign has already raised over $20,000 in two weeks, with backers from over 15 countries.
“Using this platform has meant we could show our product to a large global audience who can back our idea and be first to receive the packs,” says Elephant Stripes Co-founder Francesca Logan.
“In return for their patience these supporters are rewarded with up to 40% off recommended retail prices.”
Francesca co-founded the company with Jordan Abrahams who she had met at Victoria University of Wellington.
Despite each of us applying for a single dorm, we discovered on arrival day that we had to share with a stranger, she says.
“To make matters worse, our personalities are vastly different. Jordan, the hippy at heart, already had Buddhist prayer flags and quotes strung up around her room, while I had just returned from a year in France and had my room looking like a Parisian show room.”
Fortunately, the pair soon bonded over a love of travel and “a desire to make a difference in the world” and over the next three years were inseparable.
The entrepreneurs realized early on their individual uniqueness was an advantage and their skills sets were complementary.
Jordan graduated first with a Bachelor of Science in 2013 and Francesca in 2015 with a double degree in law and languages.
Their positive roommate experiences and similar ambitions led them to the conclusion that they were a perfect match as business partners.
The idea to focus on travel gear fell into place while buying some for a backpacking trip around South East Asia. Francesca says they found they always had to choose gear that either looked good or was durable, functional and rather boring.
The two felt that travel packs were most in need of a revamp.
“We found that most packs were made for hiking, not travelling. The result was ugly, top-loading bags, with straps hanging off everywhere; not ideal for travel.”
They were also keen to create a range with primarily women in mind. “We were horrified by the mud-brown and boogie-green shades on offer. When it came to female travel packs, usually the only change from the men’s packs was to ‘shrink it and pink it,’” Francesca said.
Elephant Stripes travel packs have six unique designs and two sizes – one is carry on and the other is larger, with a detachable daypack. They incorporate leading edge travel-pack features, such as having the bags open like a suitcase, a fully adjustable harness system, zip-away harness, dedicated laptop pocket, built-in rain cover, and an attachable side carry strap. All bags use high quality materials including YKK buckles and lockable zips.
The carry-on packs satisfy the growing trend for people to travel light with carry-on luggage only, as airlines continue to increase the costs of checked baggage.
Now aged 23, the co-founders admit that initially they often avoided admitting their age for fear they wouldn’t be taken seriously, but now feel comfortable as young business women, with their ever-growing experience and knowledge of manufacturing and product design.
Francesca says the pair are keen to be part of the new generation of entrepreneurs who do well while doing good, “part of the global movement towards better more ethical business practices.”
In line with this they partnered with the Bali Children’s Project, a reputable, not-for-profit charity registered in the U.S. and Indonesia, offering a school bag to Indonesian children in need, for every bag sold during the Kickstarter campaign.
The duo also carefully selected a manufacturer in Indonesia that best aligned with their values, and set up a charitable foundation which owns a portion of the business.
“We are in the process of moving to fully recycled packaging and aim to use recycled fabrics in future, and hope to join with other woman entrepreneurs and become involved in elephant rescue projects.”
Francesca Logan and Jordan Abrahams.