Brand Spotlight: Spicer Bags
by Ari Takata-Vasquez
We at Viscera love products that are American-made by people with a passion for their brand, but it's especially wonderful when we find such a brand that's not only made in the USA but made right in our backyard! Spicer Bags is a brand out of San Francisco that creates stylish, durable, and versatile bags of all shapes and sizes out of a wide variety of material including leather, denim, and cork.
Last Wednesday we had the joy of stopping by their San Francisco office and studio to see how their small and passionate team works together to create these bags. We sat down to chat with Sarah Gemmell, who owns and operates the company along with her mother Bonnie Gemmell, to talk about all things Spicer.
Sewing station in the San Francisco office
Viscera: So, you and your mom run the business together, but you didn't start it. It was started by a women named Sally Spicer in 2000, but she sold it to you when she was battling cancer and considering shutting down the company. What inspired you to take on the project?
Sarah: My mom is a serial entrepreneur and started a bunch of businesses of her own. Her friend was actually Sally Spicer's best friend, so she connected the two of them. We liked the designs and saw that there was a large customer base who loved the bags, so we wanted the company to live on. Also, we both have marketing and merchandising backgrounds, so we wanted to help the brand grow.
Sarah in the office, pictured with her favorite bag
Viscera: Describe the style of your products.
Sarah: I think that they're everyday chic, simple, and elegant.
Viscera: All your bags are American made, right here in this studio! Why is that important to you?
Sarah: We like to know who is producing the bags and that they're being fairly paid. We've actually had the same sewers for 15 years, so they're a part of the company. Plus, from a business standpoint, it's easier to control for quality and do smaller runs.
Some different cork materials used to create the bags
Viscera: What's it like working with your mom?
Sarah: It's really fun! She's awesome. We've known each other for, well, my whole life. We really trust each other. And we like to party together!
Bonnie and Sarah, image c/o spicerbags.com
Viscera: How has being in San Francisco shaped the line? Are there cultural and aesthetic aspects of life in the Bay Area that you think are conveyed through your products?
Sarah: I think the people that we see commuting to work and out at the bars - we're trying to make the bags for the,. When we travel, people say "oh those bags look like they're from California" and we don't even know why! I guess it's just an intrinsic thing. We actually just made a new wine country themed fabric, so that's definitely a Bay Area thing!
Choosing fabrics in the office
Viscera: What's your favorite product from the line and why?
Sarah: It's actually this bag that I'm carrying right now - the satchel in denim and navy. I love this style! I can fit my laptop, water bottle, notebook, and lunch in here and put my keys and phone in the front pocket. It's perfect.
The satchel in question
Viscera: We're going to be traveling a lot this month (and using our amazing Spicer weekender bag). What, besides the bag, would you say are your top 5 must-have travel items?
Sarah: First of all, a travel pillow. I always have to have one with me! Also some good moisturizer and a plastic bathing suit bag. That's always really helpful if you're going somewhere with water. I want to get the most out of my vacation so I'll be the person hopping into the water the morning I leave on the plane, so I need to have somewhere to put my wet bathing suit. Oh, Kind bars are perfect for airplane hunger. And finally, a versatile bathing suit cover up that can double as a dress or a scarf.
Spicer on 3rd
We had a really great time talking with Sarah, seeing how the bags are made, and visiting their gift shop called Spicer on 3rd. Not only do Sarah and Bonnie run the show at Spicer, but they also run a boutique full of American-made goodies, just like us!
It's so great to be able to see the people behind the brands we carry and the work that goes into creating the quality pieces that we love. You can pick up your own Spicer bag in our store or on our online shop (travel pillow and bathing suit bag not included).
A few Spicer Bags in the shop