Sunday, December 9, 2012

How much is that baggie in the window? The Traffic Cone Bag in STORY

David Singer, who designed my large shelf talker card, displays it and the Traffic Cone Bag in Story.

OVER CHRISTMAS, the Traffic Cone Bag scored a pretty cozy spot by a faux fire in Chelsea: it huddled with furry footballs, tech gloves, wooden gorillas and other objet d'esire in the curated concept store, Story.

Opened in 2011 at the base of a condo with a Mondrian bent, the "how to make retail exciting again" retail outlet looks across at the Chelsea Art Gallery District, the Highline and a clutch of starchitect-designed condos; we're talking Gehry, Nouvel and Shigeru Ban.

Story favors local products with a great tale of invention or inspiration, and that's where the Traffic Cone Bag fits in (bedtime reading: New York, New York: if I can make it there, why make it elsewhere?)

The Traffic Cone Bag in Orange Mode. 
I walked in to see how my bag was doing and promptly ended up demonstrating it to a Story shopper - who went ahead and bought it.

"I think the orange side is very fashionable!" he enthused.

Funny, I always thought it the black side was for the fashionista (or fashionmister); the orange side saves you and your steed from getting creamed by a passing truck on the road ... or while jogging at night. The black side is usually for wearing with your little black anything, especially if you're an architect or minimalist multi-use freak. This bag was my only luggage on my recent 8-country Damien Hirst Spot Challenge.

On another occasion, a Story customer said she was buying it for skateboarding nephew, for visibility when scooting down the double yellow line - another market that never occurred to me!

Traffic Cone Bags travelling across Brooklyn Bridge by day ... 
... and reversed to stealth/chic mode by night
Oliver Carbonell (Peace Love & Pedals Cycling Jerseys) and Susan Notorangelo (Race Across America record holder, PACTOUR) demonstrate the LARGE Traffic Cone bag in two of its many modes.
The TCB peeks out of the window. If you can see it here, you'll be seen on the road. 
The TCB proudly displaying the Story hang tag.
Last post I talked about commissioning designer David Singer to create an "airline seat pocket card" to display with the bag, which I laminated and proudly dropped off at the store with six bags. I was soon to get a first hand lesson in retail display from Story founder, Rachel Schechtman (@rachelschectman)

"Hmmmm, laminated cards ... " said Rachel, and then she pointed to other products with their instruction sheets nicely typeset and framed in glass. "We're very particular about how things are displayed in here."

Indeed, Story is densely and exquisitely art directed, creating a feeling of discovery and delight as you move from one unique tchotchkes to the next. It's a bit like going into a little girl's bedroom, with a slight edge. Many products are by crowdsourced design house Quirky. Details count at Story; the food at a recent event  was an artisanal veggie platter and gourmet grilled sandwiches. Not a plastic Costco veggie crudite with ranch in sight.

Here's the latest incarnation of my sign:

An abbreviated version of the original card for displaying in the store.
My Traffic Cone Bag displayed in stealth mode among objects of desire at Story, founded by retail guru Rachel Shechtman (at right). 
Click to see it bigger: where's the TCB? A panoramic sweep of Story.
Named one of Fast Company's 100 most creative people in business, Rachel's retail smarts have landed her projects for Fitflop, New York City and Diane von Furstenberg.

Story's event photographer William Ross sees bicycle wheels in his future ...  
This is only the second place the Traffic Cone Bag has been sold in a bricks and mortar store. The beauty and bane of the design is that it really needs to be demonstrated live, or at least be explained by this short video which appears on my online webpage. One is usually on display at East Village folding bike specialist

The TCB - one bag with many lives - is comfortable in heels, cleats and everywhere in between.  You can buy a Traffic Cone Bag from Story (for a limited time) or bfold, or if they're out of them, buy it from me.

Thanks to Rachel Shechtman and Joy Pettit at Story for the Traffic Cone Bag's holiday residency!
David Lam (right), owner of, has a small Traffic Cone Bag on display in his East Village store. 
Lynn Sarro is one of the original Traffic Cone Bag owners. She echoes the most common comment about the bag: "I use it every day."

The Traffic Cone Bag

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A How-To Card for the Traffic Cone Bag

CLICK TO ENLARGE: a How-To card with gray silhouettes
Retail visionary Rachel Schectman asked me to consign a handful of my Traffic Cone Bags to her Chelsea concept store, Story. Sweet! Story prides itself on curating locally conceived and manufactured designs, each with its own unique tale of the unexpected. And how more local (and unexpected) can you get than the multiple-personality, Made in the Garment District Traffic Cone Bag? 

Up until now the TCB has only been sold in person and from my informal online store page, helped by a YouTube video and blog. So how do you effectively explain the bag's many incarnations when store staff may be busy demonstrating any of the hundreds of other objects of desire on other shelves?

Dave Singer stylin' with his personal Traffic Cone Bag
"You probably need a step-by-step card," suggested Rachel. So here it is. I enlisted the help of designer David Singer whose portfolio reveals a penchant for pictograms - the perfect way to demonstrate the product in an "airline seat pocket card" format.

We ended up with a stalemate of two designs, using black silhouettes or gray silhouettes. The card with black silhouettes has more dramatic impact, and I notice David has chosen this for his portfolio.  The card with gray silhouettes shows the bag in its true color, black. Both work, but which do you prefer?

CLICK TO ENLARGE: How To card with black silhouettes
A cut down version

Friday, November 23, 2012

"It's my iBag!" Review by Preston Tyree, League of American Bicyclists

VIDEO: Preston hamming it up with his iPad, Bike Friday and  Traffic Cone Bag

League of American Bicyclists Education Director Preston Tyree has been toting his Traffic Cone Bag since 2010. He uses it to get to and from meetings in safety and sartorial style, and finds it useful for carrying his iPad and keyboard.

"It's my iBag!" he proclaims in the above clip, shot during a LAB Bike Ed program I attended in Albuquerque. "The bag is great. It doesn't look like a iPad carry bag so I don't feel so exposed when I am carrying it ... "

He's since written this review of the Traffic Cone Bag on his new blog, Cyclist in the Lane. Muchas gracias, Preston! 

Preston stayin' alive, stayin' alive with his Traffic Cone Bag (size large)

  VIDEO: Check out Preston's bike handling skills

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Snappy new snap (with a story) for the Traffic Cone Bag

The new snap applied to the large Traffic Cone Bag
Thanks to Serena at Assunta for these - a first look at the new snaps. The orange one goes on the orange side. 

It's one small step for a factory in China, one giant leap for the kaizen of the Traffic Cone Bag: these new, engraved snaps featuring a TRAFFIC CONE will soon replace the current plain snap on the small and large TCB's.

Thanks to Beijing-based Serena Assunta Store, I was able to get just 1000 of these made, which is considered a very small quantity - the minimum is usually 10,000. I did of course pay a premium for the smaller quantity, but I'm of the "need to have" mentality - though it crossed my mind to empty 10,000 in the bathtub, dive in and pretend I was in that Powerball ad ...

So why China, when I've been saying all along, New York, New York, if I can make it here, I'll not make it elsewhere? As I have learned in this little project, it is almost impossible to get small quantities of anything like this made locally for a reasonable price. I am fortunate to get my modest quantities of Taslan, Neon Polyester, 3M Grosgrain ribbon and hardware from Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics in Idaho, the woven labels from Heirloom Labels New Jersey, and of course, get the sewing done by Caroline Fu in the Garment District of New York City, who you can read about in my FastCompany post. Of course, some of these items are manufactured offshore, but at least I am supporting local businesses.

The best thing about these snaps is that Serena runs a wonderful charity in China called Little Flower Projects which offers a home for abandoned and needy children, including, sadly, a hospice. All proceeds from her Assunta Store go towards helping these kids. Some of the work they do is amazing, and the kids' conditions, heartbreaking, like this one about the children with the rare genetic skin disorder EB. Read this and be amazed, from the Assunta Store About:

We are Americans living in China; we have been here working with abandoned babies and disabled orphans for the past 15 years. We never planned to set up a store, yet over the years we have seen a great demand for the items that we use in our projects. We have had many requests to supply snaps, presses, sewing notions, diapers etc at a reasonable cost; Assunta Store is our answer. We sell items that we use ourselves, so we are confident of the quality and understand how they work. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about our products.
All sales from this store support Little Flower Projects . China Little Flower is a non-profit organization caring for disabled and dying orphaned children in China. Little Flower cares for orphans in a number of projects ... read more

Please go and take a look at the tremendous and selfless work done by Little Flower Projects check out their blog and like their Facebook page which is alternately uplifting and heartbreaking. Thank you Judy from KamSnaps in California, who generously referred me to Serena. This is what community is all about - paying and playing it forward, onwards, upwards!

Order a made-in-'merica Traffic Cone Bag (If you want one with these new, traffic cone engraved  snaps, it will arrive August early 2012, otherwise the regular one is available now).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Traveling Ultralite: The 8-country Traffic Cone Bag

A lot of this went into the large Traffic Cone Bag
I've just returned from a fun art scavenger hunt involving 8 countries and pretty well just my
Traffic Cone Bag as luggage. Sock by panty details here on my ChelseaGallerista blog.