BAGSBACK by Andres Navia
BAGSBACK is an American handbag company based in Miami, FL that sells Colombian handbags known as mochilas. For every bag purchased, BAGSBACK gives a bag filled with school supplies, musical instruments, toys, and anything else that will help improve the life of a child in need. Our donation bag is called A BAG FULL OF DREAMS.
Andres Navia (born December 28th, 1984) is the Founder of BAGSBACK. He was born in Miami and grew up in Bogotá, Colombia. Navia attended Boston College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Marketing. Before founding BAGSBACK, Navia worked as a Management Consultant in Manhattan.
Why did you start BAGSBACK?
BAGSBACK started in early 2009. After returning to Bogotá in December of 2008, I decided to start a business that would create social impact. Inspired by TOMS Shoes’ One for One business model, BAGSBACK was founded with the mission of selling Colombian handbags known as mochilas, and matching every bag purchased, with a bag given to a child in need.
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur. I graduated college and realized that my dream went beyond that of just any entrepreneur; I wanted to make social change as well. Having grown up between Miami and Bogota, studying in Boston, and living in New York, I realized I could create something that would reach not just one region or person, but many. It was then that I was 'enlightened' with the One for One business model. I thought of a product that I could sell, while at the same time give it to someone who needed it. So I thought of mochilas. My family has always been in the artisan/arts-and-crafts business, and I grew up surrounded by these beautiful mochila bags. I noticed that there were a lot of people interested in them, and I asked myself – what if I can sell beautiful indigenous mochilas, and give a mochila filled with school supplies to a child who needs it for every unit sold? I decided right then and there that that would be my business, and so I came up with BAGSBACK.
What is BAGSBACK all about?
BAGSBACK is about selling luxury handbags and fostering education for the younger, less fortunate generations. Through the sales of our mochilas, we also contribute to improving the lives of Colombian Native American women and their families.
In Colombia, Mochilas are for everyday use. They’re used to carry anything from personal belongings, to work materials. Both men and women use them. Their bright colors and cutting patterns capture the essence of Colombia. They’re all hand-woven; some in wool, others in fine cotton, and others in acrylic.
The reason I chose to promote education is because I firmly believe that education is the solution to most of our problems. We operate a group of volunteers called BACKERS who are in responsible for hosting periodic BAG GIVEAWAYS – events held to donate the BAGS FULL OF DREAMS. The idea is to host Sports Days in schools and have the children participate in team building and competitive sporting activities. I decided to give back to children since the future of the world depends on them. Nowadays, the younger generations barely stand a chance, and we have to come to our senses that these are the generations that will be leading the world tomorrow.
In the long-run what I really want to do is establish a close tie with schools in rural, less fortunate areas so they can tell us what kind of materials their students need, that way we can help provide these materials through our BAGS FULL OF DREAMS.
What are your greatest inspirations?
That’s a tough question. I would say my greatest inspirations and influences are God, nature, music, fashion, and philanthropy. People in general also inspire and influence me… especially those who believe that one must give in order to receive.
Your favorite charities?
TOMS Shoes and charity: water.
How many mochila designs are there to choose from?
At the moment we’re working with two Amerindian tribes – the Wayuu and the Arhuacos. All mochilas are hand-woven by the women in these tribes. Wayuu mochilas can take up to 30 days to be made, and Arhuaco mochilas can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to be completed. The fact of them being hand-woven makes them 100% original, which means that there is no exact design between mochilas. Every mochila has its own design and symbolical meaning. It’s pretty much impossible to find two mochilas that are exactly the same.
Also, aside from selling via our website and through high-end luxury retailers, we’ve been looking at the chance of co-branding some of our bags with a couple of high-end fashion designers. Follow us closely so you can be up to date on any designer collaboration.
Anything else you want to share with our audience about BAGSBACK?
Let’s all help change the world for a better tomorrow! If you would like to contribute in any way, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or join