STATE Bags: The Give Back Pack
One-for-one, or BOGO (Buy One, Give One), social businesses have been popping up everywhere covering a myriad of products. As socially conscious consumers, we are becoming accustomed to the business model and a BOGO campaign, while still great, does not highlight a company’s dedication to social change like it used to.
It’s time for some progress. At CraveGood, we plan in the next couple of articles to look at some companies and products that are embracing the BOGO model, but are pushing it forward to create longer-lasting, effective impact. Kicking off our BOGO Series is STATE, a backpack company that donates a backpack to poverty-stricken children in America for every bag sold.
However, unlike most BOGO companies, STATE is not just donating a product. They have created an entire initiative around personally connecting with these kids through rallies where backpacks are handed out along with messages of hope. STATE is showing the social enterprise world just how much further BOGO can go.
STATE currently offers three backpack models. They cover a range of buyers with prices that match.
The Garfield ($55) is a colorful affair and includes metal snaps to prominently display STATE Badges (which we’ll talk about later). It’s 100 percent cotton and would serve as a great school backpack for a younger child.
The Durham ($65) is a much more understated and versatile backpack. It features a cotton canvas and also includes a laptop sleeve. In our opinion, the no nonsense aesthetic just works.
The Mercer ($255) has all the bells of whistles of a high quality pack: copper rivets, leather straps, and brass zippers and buckles. It’s made with a water-repellent waxed cotton canvas and includes a zippered iPad pocket and padded laptop sleeve. Buyers should know that STATE donates a Garfield or Durham bag for each Mercer sold rather than an identical Mercer bag.
These are not cheap backpacks. However, aside from the luxury Mercer line, they aren’t wildly expensive either. The design aesthetic will be hit-or-miss depending on your personal tastes, but we find STATE’s simple style to be, well, stately.
The STATE story begins with a non-profit, the Country Roads Foundation. STATE’s founders, husband and wife team Scot and Jacq, started the non-profit in 2009 to serve children growing up in America’s most turbulent neighborhoods. After seeing these children resort to carrying their belonging in trash bags, Scot and Jacq decided that they could help fill the need for a functional, fashionable backpack while also providing the children tools to help them improve their communities.
First of all, it is great to see people with non-profit experience enter into the for-profit realm. It really helps STATE’s credibility as a changemaker when you know Scot and Jacq have been doing impactful work on the ground since 2009. And you can see that experience being leveraged in STATE’s unique BOGO campaign called GiveBackPack. They certainly go “beyond the bag” and have launched an initiative to help children discover and express the values that will help them succeed in life.
With every “bag drop,” backpacks are given out at a rally led by STATE’s “Packmen” who are experienced child development specialists. At these rallies, the Packmen are inspirational performers who connect with these kids at a deeper, more personal level. Buying a STATE bag is not just a handout — each purchase means a child is injected with a dose of inspiration, a message of action, and given tools to help carry out that change. This is what innovating the BOGO model looks like:
In addition to STATE’s rallies and Packmen is something pretty clever. STATE also offers badges kids can earn that represent progress and effort towards STATE’s core values including: acceptance, courage, conservation, and knowledge.
Children can fill out an online form (with their parents’ permission) to tell their story about embodying these values and earn snaps or pins to put on their backpacks. The Garfield pack even includes metal snaps to display STATE badges. It’s a brilliant marketing move, but it also motivates kids to act upon the lessons they’re learning, which is a wonderful thing.
We love how STATE has accepted the challenge of extending and improving upon the “giving” aspect of the BOGO business. Its GiveBackPack program is a great example of how a product can go further and engage on a deeper level with its cause and is the level of engagement we hope becomes the norm as more and more BOGO companies enter into the market.