Being at home in Seattle, my time is usually filled with working from my computer, running around the city or experiencing outdoor activities. So, whether that means packing up my laptop, an extra sweatshirt or hiking shoes, it’s important to have a really good backpack at hand. I realized that I, sadly, am without one at the moment, so when my friend Noelle told me about Ian Ivarson and his Ivar Backpacks, I became curious and decided to do some research. My poking around led to a great interview with him, which includes how he got started and why his backpack is the way to go. It has the Ivar patented shelving design, which is an ingenious organizational system within the pack, and I gotta say, I’m sold! Plus, check out this sexy pick of a shirtless Jonathan Bennett (hot guy from Mean Girls) with his Ivar backpack! http://justjared.buzznet.com/photo-gallery/2089061/jonathan-bennett-shirtless-08/.
So, without further ado, meet Ian!
Hi Ian! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions about Ivar backpacks.
It says on your site that you were in high school when you realized that backpacks were uncomfortable and unorganized. But, most teenagers would probably endure the torture of sore shoulders and messy bags, so what was it that made you take it one step further and create your own?
Well, I saw an opportunity to provide a truly better and more intelligent way of carrying your stuff. Through Ivar, we’re providing a more ergonomic and organizing backpack product. As I witnessed in high school, all backpacks worked the same way. Load your stuff inside and your contents falls to the bottom with the weight focused on your lower back – very uncomfortable and definitely disorganized! So, whereas every other backpack is essentially an “open sack,” our Ivar Backpacks (engineered with our patented internal shelf design) evenly distributes your cargo’s weight among the shelves, and keeps everything separate and organized.
Starting your own product and business is not an easy feat. Did you come across any bumps along the way? What made you persevere? What was the driving point for you behind it all?
My inspiration for Ivar has always been entrepreneurial and, simply, a love for great and innovative consumer products. It’s been a truly amazing process watching Ivar – and our shelf design concept – evolve from a sketch on the back of an airplane throw-up bag to an actual first-rate product line.
In business, there are always challenges and hurdles. My roll has been largely a problem solving effort. In the very beginning, when I was in college at the University of Denver, such challenges were (for example) how we would get the manufactured product from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, to Oakland, California. Those types of challenges are water long-gone under the bridge! These days, we constantly challenge ourselves with how we can better design and provide more value with our products and how to better connect with our customers. All these challenges are part of the enjoyment factor. And from the beginning, I’ve been blessed with a truly wonderful network and advisory board of personal friends and mentors who I frequently collaborate with for opinions and solutions.
How did you come up with the shelving idea? I mean, it’s genius, but what was the process in coming up with your insular organizational system?
Well thank you! I always knew there was a better way to design a backpack. Backpacks have always lacked true organizational and ergonomic features. Added to it, there have always been back-related health concerns with regard to all that weight sitting on your lower back. I thought of the shelf design as a perfect way to organize everything and create easier access to your stuff. Perhaps most importantly, with your stuff evenly distributed among the shelves, all the weight in the pack no longer sits completely at the bottom of the pack.
You now have a total of six packs now. Besides comfort and organization, what else went into the thought process when designing the first three? What about the three newest packs? Have you made major adjustments or improvements, or do you like to only alter them a bit in shape and size?
The first Ivar was the Urban model. From the Urban, we designed the Urban 33, which was a slightly larger version of the original Urban; and the Zug (pronounced Zoog, named after Zug, Switzerland) pack for little kids. These three packs represented our first two years of business. During this time, we learned a great deal about what our customers and retailers wanted and how to better improve our packs.
For the Outdoor Retailer Show in January 2009, we effectively re-launched Ivar with our three new generation models: the Revel, Urban G2, and Zug G2. Our new generation items represent a more organic and smoother design, in addition to the best possible quality materials, fabrics, construction, and foam padding usage. We have also redesigned our back padding system – you won’t find a better back-padded pack! Quality and details throughout have been brought to the best standards possible. Among other enhanced features, we’ve also added a laptop protection flap that takes advantage of our shelf design.
The original three Ivar items represent a more economical price point, with our new generation items being slightly higher in price. I am excited to report we have new designs in the works for 2010 as well!
Thank you so much. You may learn more about Ivar on our website: ivarpack.com