Tell us about your business.Before turning my attention to accessory design, I spent more than 12 years as a successful structural engineer. The features customers have come to expect in a well-made, handcrafted STRUCTUREbag are rooted in my seismic design background. During my tenure as a designer and manager, I learned to control the details: durability, constructability and design must come together as one. With each fabric choice, with each stitch, my vision is brought to you with great care. When my husband and I relocated to the United States Military Academy in 2009, my appreciation for members and families of our military soared. Living on a military post shines light on the sacrifices and commitment of military families: deployments, circumstantial single-parenting, tragedies and volunteerism. Although the business is no longer at West Point, STRUCTUREbags reflects the lessons learned in my time there. STRUCTUREbags is about giving back: to the environment and to those who serve.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.STRUCTUREbags has always been a home-based business. When we were at West Point, where the business began, we had a dedicated studio space in a historic brick duplex once inhabited by Vince Lombardi! Today, our workspace is less glamorous but just as productive. I've carved out some space in our modest Central Coast townhouse. Surprisingly, I've found the change has helped me stay focused. No longer can I close the door on my tidy, creative mess. But who's kidding anyone here? I'm a licensed engineer - of course I will always be a tad "type A" - no matter where I work!
What inspires you?Inspiration comes in so many forms: fabric textures, structural compositions, natural landscapes, children's curiosities, military sacrifice. Our Camo with a Cause line started with a simple idea: create a fun ornament that supports our military. From there, a full line of products was born. The lines are clean, the camo is highlighted and the quality shines. STRUCTUREbags is rooted in giving back. It started as a way to give back to myself and my newborn daughter, but it quickly grew to to focus on those around us. Living at West Point, it was easy to be inspired. Military soldiers and their families sacrifice and give so much everyday. And not just in conventional ways... The families we met embraced us non-military folk. And I learned from them: don't wait, get active, give unconditionally, respect the (military) life, remember special days. When we partnered with Team Red, White & Blue I was again inspired. Giving back to those who have given. That is inspiration.
What makes your business stand out?The name "STRUCTUREbags" was no mistake. The business was started during a time of transition for Brenda. Relocating from one coast to another. Leaving behind a fantastic and successful career in structural engineering. Transitioning from a civilian to a full-fledged military supporter. And, oh yes, becoming a first-time mom. The "structure" in STRUCTUREbags has many meanings. It's a tribute to my career as a structural engineer. It's a statement about the quality of the work. It's the foundation for building a business that gives back. So, we strive to give back to America and our military. Our "Giving Back" thanked 100 deployed soldiers and their families via a free letter and gift campaign. Our partnership with Team Red, White & Blue allows us to to make a direct impact with our veterans. Whether it's hiring military for work or sourcing American, giving back to our veterans or choosing organic, we strive to make every choice American - and military - friendly.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?Never stop creating. Never stop doing. Never stop giving.
What does American Made mean to you?American Made means getting your hands dirty. It means making choices that are the best for your community. In the STRUCTUREbags family, it means working with talented veterans, military spouses and active duty soldiers. It means choosing small over big and working within those bounds. American Made means giving back to America.
Mark Your Calendar
NOMINATIONSJun. 17, 2015
Nominate yourself or other aspiring entrepreneurs.Learn about American Made
VOTING BEGINSSep. 21, 2015
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WINNERS ANNOUNCEDOct. 23, 2015
2015 Editors' Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
AMERICAN MADE SUMMITNov. 7, 2015
Don’t miss our networking event and maker lecture series in New York City. Tickets available July 2015.