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A chat with Maria Boustead of Po Campo bags

Posted by on August 10th, 2010 at 8:19 am

The Rack Tote bag from Po Campo.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Thanks to Twitter, I was able to connect with Maria Boustead from Chicago-based Po Campo bags while she was in Portland this past weekend.

Po Campo launched last summer with bags for women who want style and function that look good on and off the bike. The company has only been around for about a year but they’ve already gained a strong foothold in Chicago and several other cities where urban biking is on the rise. The bags are also sold in Japan, the Netherlands, Australia and the U.K..

Co-founder Maria Bousted
outside Powell’s Books.

Boustead — who formerly worked in bag design for Arctic Zone — says she’s always biked around the city, but she prefers to stay sweat-free by not having anything strapped to her back. When she looked to buy pannier bags, she found many of them aesthetically lacking. “We were waiting for someone else to make some fashionable bike bags, but eventually we just decided to make them ourselves.”

Today, Boustead and her business partner Emily Taylor have a healthy business that has been fueled mostly by word-of-mouth. Their three main models are the Rack Tote, Bungee Handbag, and Handlebar Clutch (see them below). Off the bike, you’d have to look closely to even know they were bike bags. Besides great designs, another reason to love Po Campo is that the bags are made in downtown Chicago.

L to R: Rack Tote, Bungee Handbag, Handlebar Clutch

I think well-made, nice looking and functional products that appeal to people who don’t think of themselves as “cyclists” are key making biking work in America and Po Campo’s bags certainly fit that bill. I was also pleased to find out that Boustead sees beyond the “bike bag” niche. “We might have started with a bike bag that looks cute, but it turned out to be the other way around [as in, a cute bag that happens to fit on a bike].”

In addition to bike shops, Boustead says she hopes to get her bags sold at boutiques and other fashion retail location. “Women go into bike shops to fix a flat… they’re not in fun shopping mode. We’ve also found that guys at bike shops don’t really know how to talk about handbags.”

In Portland, you can find Po Campo bags at Clever Cycles on SE Hawthorne. Learn more about Po Campo on their website, blog, or by following them on Twitter (Boustead says she’d love to find a Portland sales rep, so inquire within!).

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Re: the first line of the fourth paragraph, “Today, Boustead and Taylor […]” – I don’t see a reference to Taylor anywhere else in the article. I take it this is Boustead’s business partner?

Michael M.

“We’ve also found that guys at bike shops don’t really know how to talk about handbags.”

The day is young, but I suspect that will be today’s most amusing thought. 🙂

Nice article.

Paul Tay
Paul Tay

Thumbs…..UP! Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

Paul Tay
Paul Tay

A couple of those bags actually match my dresses!


Really. A sloooow news day. Maybe that’s good, though.