Today’s interview is with the charismatic and dedicated founder and CEO of Rickshaw Bagworks – whose awesome video we shared over here. Mark Dwight founded the company in 2007 which is based in the historic Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco – with a lovely retail store in front, if you are ever in the area, it’s worth a visit. Prior to founding Rickshaw, Mark was the CEO of Timbuk2 Designs, also a San Francisco-based manufacturer. Mark has two degrees from Stanford, rides his bike everywhere, and is passionate about local manufacturing.
Rickshaw Bagworks is so well known in San Francisco for messenger bags. Can you tell us how your business got started?
Before I founded Rickshaw in 2007, I was the CEO of another storied San Francisco bag company, Timbuk2 Designs, from 2002 to 2006. It was there that I fell in love with the bag business. Before I started designing and making bags, I spent 20 years working in various Silicon Valley technology companies.
Why did you name it Rickshaw?
The name refers to the “human powered taxi” first introduced in Japan in the mid-1800’s and later popularized throughout Asia. I first learned the history of the rickshaw from a book called “Chasing Rickshaws”, published by Lonely Planet. The name seemed apropos for a company making bags for cyclists.
Tell us about the Zazzle partnership.
We were approached by Zazzle three years ago when the company decided to add a selection of branded goods to their product selection. Our build-to-order products are well-suited to the application of photos and graphics, and our proximity to Zazzle’s headquarters is ideal. We’re very proud to be a member of Zazzle’s family of brands.
We just love your manufacturing space in San Francisco. How many folks work there?
We occupy a lovely brick and timber warehouse in the historic Dogpatch neighborhood in San Francisco. We have 30 people, including 15 on our production team, 10 on our sales, marketing and operations team, and 5 in our factory retail store.
What are some of the wildest items that you’ve seen customized – bachelorette party messenger bags? Anything memorable?
We love seeing our products adorned with whatever happens to be “trending” in the moment, such as Grumpy Cat, Keep Calm, unicorns, you name it.
What is your favorite Zazzle product – and you can’t pick a Rickshaw product!
T-shirts. I love the ability to make a single shirt for myself with whatever design, message or photo I choose. The t-shirt is a great platform for personal expression.