Bags of ideas

Lizzie Hutchison talks about why her totes have an edge.

You’re unlikely to become a company’s CEO, CMO, COO and CFO all at once. But thanks to Spark, it’s possible every quarter. So for anyone susceptible to the lure of career progression, participating in AML’s side-hustle challenge is a no brainer. 

It’s always tickled me that people use tote bags as a means of humblebragging – a subtle way of announcing that they’ve recently been to a suuuuuupercool fashion event / art sale / gig. So I’d been mulling over the idea of a range of sarcastic tote bags for a while. And fortunately I managed to convince the agency to join me on the journey. 

With £250 in my proverbial pocket I kicked the COO into action and began the process. Wrote a bunch of suitably cynical lines, put them into design, uploaded them to bags from my chosen fulfilment company and linked that to an Etsy account. Phew. Then I had a word with the CMO who suggested that we needed some Brand values. These are they:

  1. Never let them guess your next move.
  2. Walk that awkward line between ‘are they laughing with me or at me?’
  3. Take nothing seriously.
  4. Except grammar inconsistencies.
  5. Try not to lose money. 

Unfortunately for the CFO, the last one wasn’t entirely successful. I tried to drum up some support with an Instagram campaign. Each post was monochrome to complement the bags, and designed to look like a quote from a Sarcastote customer. Examples include “Thank goodness for this tote, I finally have a quirk.” and “This tote changed my life. Well, it changed how I carry stuff.” The CMO was pretty chuffed with herself, but the CFO was still breathing down my neck. To get her off my back, I initiated Sarcastote’s first collab. One of my pals is a DJ and I designed him a range of six bags with his logo and my DJ themed lines. Boy did they fly off the shelves. 

The results? Well, I had positive feedback from all my customers. An awkward suggestion for a meetup on Etsy. And the novel experience of creating a tangible product, which for anyone whose job is idea generation, never wears off. The only opposition was from my mother who bought two totes to be supportive, before declaring that no one she knew would ever wear one, so could I “please shut the company down now?”

Prove her wrong. Buy a totebag. The CFO will be delighted.