Modern Retail had the pleasure of speaking with Tim Johnson, CEO and Founder of Cora + Spink. Beginning in 2014, Tim began his journey to create a range of products which would look good and do good. With the simple concept of creating brilliant backpacks where every person involved was happy, Cora + Spink was born.

Setting the goal of creating simple, strong and rugged backpacks, Tim launched a range on his own site, beginning to sell on Etsy. From here, Cora + Spink got shops and their website got bigger and bigger.

But none of this would have been possible with the incredible ethos and sense of doing good, which drives Cora + Spink. Interestingly, in a time where most people are shouting about their sustainability and eco-friendly USPs, Tim lets the product do the talking, as customers fall in love with the product first, before realising some are also vegan, and that all are made in conditions which support those making the bags.

Tim explained: “Today’s customer is savvy. They will shop around and want the best quality. We get personal feedback as well as people being recommended, or having customers rebuy. We get this because the product is as wonderful as it is.”

When it comes to ethical creation, this is something Tim has fought for since Cora + Spink began. He said: “In our facilities, we don’t battle down for the bottom price. We maintain brand equity and are responsible, making sure we know everything about the supply chain and that the product is being sold fairly. Because this is important to us, we do not and will not sell on Amazon.

“Some of our products are 100% vegan and the bags directly provide business support, protecting from exploitation, giving good wages and the ability to succeed to thousands of workers through fair trade and operative working in Kolkata, India. We source from ethical places and manufacture in the right way.. Accreditations are really important, so we make sure the facilities we use have the relevant ones, and we know exactly what these actually mean to workers. We make sure the facilities we use promote good health and safety, have great management, fair hours policies and a suitable management structure.

“We are a product-based backpack company which does have genuine ethics. We don’t push that purposely. I’m not even needing to shout about my ethics because I want the product to shout.”

Tim spoke about the benefits of working with independent retailers: “With independents, they are able to train staff to really sell and understand the bag. They can then explain the benefits fully, educating customers. This is something which can sometimes be lost with larger chains, if they only include product descriptions and imagery.”

Cora + Spink have also launched a YouTube channel to tell the story of their products, reaching out on a personal level, adding: “From the first day, we have worked to build relationships all over the world with customers and suppliers alike, who want to achieve the same. We want pleasure in the work we do, happiness and satisfaction at the end of the day.”