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Norfolk designer launches stylish backpack business from family farm

PUBLISHED: 11:35 14 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:46 14 June 2020

Ben Rossi with backpacks he has designed for his business The One Bag Company

Ben Rossi with backpacks he has designed for his business The One Bag Company

Ben Rossi

Buy one, get one for a needy child – the new Norfolk business packing style and hope

A One Bag Co. backpack  Picture: One Bag Co.A One Bag Co. backpack Picture: One Bag Co.

A new company creating stylish backpacks for commuters has been launched from a farm near North Walsham - and is helping schoolchildren in Norfolk and abroad.

Ben Rossi’s family has farmed near North Walsham for generations. Now it has become the 26-year-old’s base for an innovative business. For every designer backpack he sells, he gives away a schoolbag backpack, filled with educational equipment.

“Wanting to create a positive impact on the world after finishing university, I was inspired by the success of TOMS Shoes and its pioneering one-for-one business model,” said Ben. “With inspiration from my late mother’s life working in education, this seemed like an extra fitting way to help give other people the best opportunities in life.”

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Delivery for Costessey Primary School  Picture: One Bag CompanyDelivery for Costessey Primary School Picture: One Bag Company

Each schoolbag comes complete with equipment including exercise books, pens, pencils, and geometry set.

After a year of preparation Ben launched One Bag Company in January, and pre-orders meant he was able to take schoolbags out to children in Kenya before the coronavirus crisis.

A second consignment has been given to children at Costessey Primary School, near Norwich, packed with educational materials plus a few fun extras including dominoes and a frisbee.

“I feel lucky in the sense that I can spend time at home in my rural surroundings while trying to pursue a career outside of farming,” said Ben. “I have been a Norfolk boy all my life.”

Distributing the matched bags to schoolchildren in Kenya   Picture: One Bag Co.Distributing the matched bags to schoolchildren in Kenya Picture: One Bag Co.

Ben returned home after studying for a degree in graphic design to help care for his dying mum. “Helping care for my amazing mum and lending a hand on the farm inspired me to think of different ways I could earn a living while being at home,” said Ben.

The adult backpacks, designed by Ben and sold for £59.99, are aimed at casual commuters. “The kind of person who might need a grab-and-go bag to carry their laptop and gym kit to work, with enough room to pick-up some groceries on the way home,” said Ben. “There are three main compartments - the main bag, a zip-up pouch inside and a laptop sleeve. However, the uniqueness of the bag is how it closes, as there is no main zip. Instead the bag pulls on the carrying weight through the shoulder straps, sealing the bag safely across the top. This design helps the accessibility of the bag when needed but also keeping all belongings secure while being carried. The material is cotton-canvas, which means they are also recyclable and biodegradable.”

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While building his business Ben is also working on the farm and doing some freelance graphic design.

In January he took the first bags to a school in Kenya. “Being able to hand out each schoolbag individually was truly special, and it really made the purpose of One Bag Company a reality. A notable moment was when we were leaving and all the kids were there wearing their new bags, it felt symbolic that their education belonged to them and hopefully we had helped to empower that.”

He and his girlfriend had visited a friend in Kenya a year earlier and Ben said: “I had only recently thought of the concept and it became apparent that this was definitely somewhere that would benefit. We kind of joked about how we would be back when I had this business up and running, then lo and behold, a year later the idea was a reality and we were back in Kenya with the schoolbags!

“A donation of a schoolbag equipped with essential learning materials might not be the answer to all world issues, however it is a positive contribution towards a child’s future and world development,” said Ben.

To find out more about Ben’s bags visit onebagcompany.com


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