STATE Bags is a Brooklyn-based company creating cool, classic bags; all with a powerful social mission at its core. The founders of STATE – husband and wife duo, Scot and Jacqueline Tatelman – created a nonprofit summer camp in 2009 where they watched countless kids arrive, carrying all of their belongings in trash bags and they wanted to do more. STATE was created to address the immediate needs of American children living with challenging, and in some cases critical circumstances through the innovative GiveBackPack Program, which builds on the buy one, give one model with a more local, long-form approach. For each bag sold, STATE hand-delivers one to an American child in need. Going beyond simply a material donation, STATE executes motivational rallies, led by role-model figures in the STATE PackMen/Women. STATE offers a collection of bags geared towards all ages and styles. In just one year, STATE has been featured in countless press outlets and worn by celebrities, including the Jolie-Pitt clan. Watch how STATE goes beyond the bag, because they’re not just backpacks – they’re GiveBackPacks! chatted with Scot to learn more about who they are and what STATE Bags is all about. 

Where are you originally from? I’m from Boston and Jacqueline is from Westchester, NY.

How long have you lived in NY? In Brooklyn? Jacq’s lived here her whole life, but I moved to NY in 2007. We both became Brooklynites in 2009 and we’re never looking back!

What were your careers before owning STATE? I’ve worked in the marketing world at companies like Reebok and NYC’s The Ride and started my own nonprofit organization called Country Roads Foundation. Jacq has been in the fashion space since she was just a little kid strutting around her Mom’s boutique in diapers and high heels. She’s been a buyer and done product development for companies such as Saks, Henri Bendel and Scoop.

How did you two meet? We were set up…I never thought that fact would be possible!

Gymtime Founders are also a husband and wife duo…what has been your experience owning a business with your spouse? It’s a lot of fun, but certainly challenging at the same time. It’s obviously a really unique dynamic, but there’s something really cool about being able to look at someone and know exactly what they’re thinking just because you’re so in sync…that’s Jacq and me. We make a conscious effort to balance STATE with not just raising our daughter (and future child to be named in August), but making sure that we slot out time for the two of us as well. The work-life balance is tough for anyone, but for a married couple working together, it presents even more challenges. Bottom line is we love what we do and we love who we do it with!

How did you come up with the name STATE? Our mission is to serve kids in the United STATEs as well as triggering a new STATE of mind for kids growing up in all socioeconomic backgrounds. A STATE of mind that will always look to better yourself and the world around you.

What was the inspiration for STATE backpacks? Five years ago, Jacqueline and I created a nonprofit summer camp for hundreds of kids growing up in some of the most violent, underfunded neighborhoods in the country. After spending time in the community and watching countless kids arrive at camp carrying all of their belongings in trash bags, we wanted to do more. We established STATE with a mission to serve American kids in need through our innovative GiveBackPack Program, which builds on the buy one, give one model with a more local, long-form approach. For each bag sold, STATE hand-delivers one to an American child in need – whether growing up in an at-risk neighborhood, homeless, undergoing cancer treatment or living with special needs. Going beyond simply a material donation, our bags are delivered through motivational rallies, led by role-model figures in the STATE PackMen/Women. We leave kids with a bag to carry their “stuff” in, but also a powerful message about giving back, and doing great things for themselves and the community around them. 

What has been the biggest challenge with STATE ? We’re a new brand in a very competitive space, so finding ways to get our name out there amongst the noise is a challenge. But, in just over a year we’ve made some strong waves with incredible press coverage, celebs wearing our stuff and just genuine support from people around the globe.

Another challenge for me personally is to get our story out there so people know we’re going beyond just a material donation. That’s my personal mission – I want to be seen as the company that goes beyond the one for one model in our GiveBackPack Program.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? I really feel like I was put on this Earth to do this, so every aspect of STATE is rewarding. But, if I had to pick one I would say seeing the fruits of our labor at our bag drops. Handing out bags at the end of our rallies is always so moving for us, but I just love seeing kids in challenging situations be able to act like kids – laugh, dance and just act their age…that’s one thing we always strive to do.

Is there a “success” story that you would like to share? There are many – the Jolie-Pitt clan spotted wearing our bags, successfully executing 2 bag drop events in 1 day for close to 500 kids, people sharing personal stories with us to redeem their STATE Badges, and our entire Spread the Love Initiative was a massive success, which served a lot of deserving kids.

What are you most proud of in your journey thus far? That our mission is at the center of everything we do, and we’ve stayed true to it, serving American kids in need. We’ve recently built upon it by helping children undergoing cancer treatment and living with special needs. Check out our Spread the Love Initiative, which kicked it all off.

How many backpacks have you donated? Upwards of 2,000 in a year.

Are there specific communities in America that you focus on? We want to roll this out across the US. The more bags we can sell, the more we can give!

Where do you see STATE in 5 years? On the backs of millions of people across the globe. In addition to adding to our bag collection, we also have ideas on ways to build out our mission and more deeply engage kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds. We want to create a GiveBackPack movement, where kids are focusing on ways they can continue to better themselves and the world around them.

Will STATE remain as a backpack company, or will it expand to include other items? More items are already in theworks and are set to hit this Fall. Think tote bags, iPad sleeves, pencil cases and more. We have some really cool stuff shipping very soon!

You recently did a collaboration with streetwear designers Dee and Ricky…are there other cool collaborations on the horizon? Absolutely, and we’re already in talks with a few. The exciting thing about our business is that we’ve found that people really want to work with us because of our cool product and genuine mission. The sky’s the limit!

 STATE Bags will be at Gymtime for a Trunk Show on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. Stop by, pick up a bag and automatically give one to a child in need! See you there!

Find more information on STATE bags on their website, facebook, twitter and  instagram.

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