LAUNCH: The Tracy 2-in-1 Bag Begins Shipping Today
Reflecting on our first year, physical products, and being a sole founder
Tara&Co is re-imagining products for women-on-the-go and today I’m excited to announce that we’ve started fulfilling our early backers’ Indiegogo orders and are officially launching Tara&Co through our own online store.
It’s crazy to think that it was only earlier this year that we announced The Tracy 2-in-1 bag!
The reception of the product has been overwhelming. We’ve already pre-sold >$110k worth and been covered by Brit+Co, San Francisco Chronicle, Buzzfeed, and LA Fashion Magazine and have partnered with Woman in Product conference, Built by Girls, and The Global Career Summit by the Expat Woman.
We name all of our products after women that inspire us; our first bag, The Tracy 2-in-1 is eponymously named after the remarkable Tracy Chou. Tracy is a former Pinterest engineer and entrepreneur known for her work in diversity who called on companies in the male-dominated tech field to release their diversity numbers to action us towards real conversation about women and equality in the workplace. Over 250 companies heeded her call including giants like Google and Facebook.
Here are just some of the features of the Tracy 2-in-1:
- 2-in-1 bag. Two bags that zip together, 1 big enough for a 13” laptop, & 1 removable zip-off clutch. That’s right, our flap becomes a zip-off clutch.
- Worn multiple ways. Can be worn as shoulder bag, backpack, and cross-body.
- Personalized. Released with two other clutch colors in Lava Red and Cerulean Teal. Wear them standalone or use them together to personalize your larger bag.
- Expandable Compartments and Organization. Lots of compartments including a padded pocket for up to a 13” laptop, expandable compartments for water bottles, umbrellas etc, zippered pockets, and more.
- Clutch comes with its own pocket and removable strap.
- Best Materials. Genuine soft leather & YKK zippers.
The Tracy 2-in-1 (which comes with the main convertible tote and black zip-off clutch) retails for $395 with option to purchase an additional colored clutch in Cerulean Teal or Lava Red for $99. The colored clutches can mix and match with your Tracy or work as a standalone piece.
And of course you can purchase the bag now on our new online store at www.taraand.co!
Reflecting on the Last Year
As we move into this next phase of our company, I want to take a moment to reflect on how we got started on this crazy journey almost a year ago today.
I had been thinking for quite a while about the unmet needs of women in the workplace and I decided I wanted to learn to build physical products.
My background is in technology. I was at Facebook for 4.5 years and then went onto run a few technology-focused startups. I sold my last one, Bucket, in 2016.
It was while I was fundraising for my last company and running around from meeting to meeting to social event back to meeting, that I wondered, “Where were all the products for women on-the-go?”
Where was the bag that protected my devices, made me look and feel good in meetings, and also provided distributed weight when I needed it? Where were the products for the 53 million professional women in the US and Canada with dynamic lifestyles? I hadn’t found a satisfying answer, so I decided to create one.
Within six weeks, I found a designer with 15 years of experience and we had designed and built our first working prototype.
There were two specific problems we were trying to solve:
1) How do you look sleek and elegant when you want to, but have distributed weight when you need to?
2) How to avoid bags within bags and just carry one bag that suits all your needs?
Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of user research, designing, prototyping, testing, crowdfunding, re-designing, re-prototyping, re-testing, and now manufacturing and shipping.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work on something you can touch, feel, and use every day. I love having the opportunity to build something for my peers. I am both our biggest fan and biggest critic, and I hope that’s propelled us to build something that you love.
Building Physical Products
Making the transition to building physical products has been quite a learning experience. Instead of user testing wireframes, I literally give people an early version of our bag to run around with, go on trips, take to work, walk home with their child, etc.
Prototyping now means buying 5 different plastic boards, and trying each of them out to see which one has the right amount of flex for comfort, but also keeps the right structure. Or gluing and taping together four different fabrics to see which one has the right look of elegance, but provides the comfort and utility needed.
Building two bags in one has not been an easy challenge — innovation never is. Additionally, we decided to create one that you can hold 3-ways!
Creating two bags that look good as two separate standalone bags, but also work together as one has required endless hours of ingenuity, mechanical engineering, priority trade-offs, endless refinement, and love.
I now have enormous respect for all physical things around me. Even a simple cup in my kitchen has been designed, prototyped, tested, re-designed, re-tested, carefully manufactured, tested again, delivered via truck or boat over weeks, if not months, re-packaged, re-shipped, and arrived at my doorstep, perfectly manufactured so I could enjoy this delicious glass of orange juice. Everything around us is so carefully crafted to create a specific experience. It blows my mind.
In the last year, I have learned so much about materials, design, manufacturing, physical prototyping, and shipping (so much about shipping). It’s an ambitious project that I’ve loved shepherding through, but by no means has it been easy.
However, I feel honored to have had the support of our 300+ backers who believe in the idea and have supported us all the way through.
Being a Sole Founder
This is also the first company that I have founded by myself and I have loved it. There’s a stigma in the valley that you need a co-founder. In theory, having two people working on the problem is often better than one — twice as many people to work on it, right? Paul Graham notoriously said that YCombinator, one of Silicon Valley’s biggest incubators, wouldn’t fund companies unless they have a co-founder and I’ve had co-founders in the past. Like any other relationship, co-founder relationships can be both extremely helpful or extremely detrimental.
At the end of the day, every individual comes with their own thoughts, ambitions, work ethic, personal relationships, health issues, and fears. Successful leadership requires perfect alignment on multiple levels and it is rare that you have two people (or more) that have that perfect alignment on vision very early on; I’ve seen co-founder relationships work as many times as they’ve failed.
I like to use human anatomy as an analogy for a company. I’m a strong believer that there is only one “heart” to any company and I can only point to a handful of companies where I can say this is otherwise. This person is your vision, product leader, the reason people stay on board. There is usually one person that your company cannot survive without.
In general, this tends to be your CEO or whoever runs product. Co-founders at times can function like a vital organ — a lung, or a liver, doing a vital part to keep the body going. Having them along makes the body healthy, happy, and function well. However, at times co-founders can be more like an appendix — you don’t really need it, and it can be very time consuming and painful. There are many times where it is worthwhile to go at it alone.
By being a sole founder, the biggest advantage you gain is speed. Decisions are quick and you don’t have to debate everything to move forward. Most times, doing something faster and almost perfect is better than doing something slower and perfect. You also have the ability to gauge which decisions can be made without debate, and which ones warrant a thoughtful set of discussions to move forward.
As much as I love shared leadership, I’m confident I could not have built this company in one year if I had a co-founder. Speed and resilience are two of the most important things in an early stage startup. I have managed my own ability to build, and here we are.
Startups are hard, they’re exhausting, and they’re endless hours in the hopes that you achieve some perfect vision. As a sole founder, I feel like I am only gated by how many hours I have to work in a day. It can be overwhelming at times, I work 7 days a week and still don’t have enough time, but I’m constantly rejuvenated by how much progress we’re making.
In life, it’s easy to feel stuck, but I rarely feel that way as I’m always searching for the better option.
By being a sole founder, I am by no means alone. I’ve had the benefit of incredible help from my team, good designers, amazing advisors, a wonderful fiancé who’s helped in all sorts of ways, and lots of friends and family who’ve helped answer a survey, test something, work with us, and cheer us on along the way.
This company, this product, has been built as much by me as it has by every one of them.
And away we go!
We’re a product built by women, for women.
For our Indiegogo backers: Thank you so much for believing in us, helping us fund this project, and supporting us along the way. We hope you love your Tracy 2-in-1 bag.
For women on-the-go: We hope you’ll try out the Tracy 2-in-1 bag and add both elegance and functionality to your life.
For the loving partner: We hear gift giving season is right around the corner and now would be a great time to get your wife/girlfriend/daughter a stylish and convertible bag. ;)
You can buy yours now at: www.taraand.co
Thanks everyone for the love and support — we couldn’t have done it without you.
Tara — Style for your Life.