S olgaard defines itself as a “design-driven, sustainable luxury brand always ready for adventure.” Launchedvia Kickstarter in 2018 by Founder and CEO Adrian Solgaard, the company manufactures and sellssuitcases and backpacks, as well as accessories such as watches and a solar boombox. The company’smission is to offer premium products that improve life on the go. Its Canadian Norwegian founder alsowants the productsto be ethically made, sustainably sourced, and accessible to all. Those are loftyambitions—especially pursued in combination with one another—but if the first few years of the company’sexistence are any indication, Solgaard is well on its way, and it all starts with products
A stolen backpack triggered the Solgaard story. When a friend’s backpack was stolen, Adrian asked hisfriends what features would be required to make the perfect bag. That led to the 2016 Kickstarter launch ofthe first Solgaard backpack design, the Lifepack—a solar-powered, anti-theft laptop backpack widelyapplauded for its innovative features. Solarbank and Solar Boombox compatible, the original Lifepack alsohad an integrated USB port for charging, a patented anti-theft lock, and a water-resistant bottom. CNETcalled it the best laptop backpack to travel with. In June 2017, Solgaard followed the Lifepack with theHustle, which was designed with an original shape to be the perfect daily backpack. A year later, Solgaardunveiled their hex watch collection, which features a hexagonal design that, according to the company,allows you to tell time faster.Based in New York City and with remote employees scattered around the world, Solgaard says itsaudience is “global citizens” who desire premium gear. Adrian Solgaard has a bit of a history launchingpremium products. Prior to creating the premium luggage brand that bears his name, he invented InterLock,a bicycle-locking system that hides inside the seat post of the bike when not inuse. His affinity for productdesign is clear on the Solgaard.co (not .com) product pages, where suitcases are categorized by whether youwant to travel with a check-in piece of luggage or a carry-on. From there, each piece of luggage clearlyindicates howlong a trip you might take with it and how many outfits you will be able to pack inside. Everyproduct page on the website also has a simple but useful section called “Why We Made It.” In the case ofthe Carry-On Closet, Adrian Solgaard realized after three years of living on the road that keeping a tidyroom was impossible. Named one of the best travel inventions of 2018 byTIME, the Carry-On Closet has apatented, built-in shelving system that eliminates the disorganization that comes with unpacking at your destination.
Recycling, Upcycling, and Becoming “Plastic Negative”
Among the bullet-point features listed on the Carry-On Closet product page is that the suitcase “saves 229 plastic bottles from the ocean.” That’s because for every product Solgaard sells, the company has pledged to stop five pounds of plastic from entering the ocean. Recognizing that 1,000 of the world’s rivers are responsible for 80 percent of ocean plastic, Solgaard’s “big mission” is to stop the flow of plastic and help cut ocean plastic in half by 2025. The company has partnered with various groups in the Philippines, Indonesia, and China who work with local teams to create jobs for communities to collect plastic headed toward the ocean. From there, that plastic can be upcycled to make new products. For every item sold, Solgaard says that it saves 229 plastic bottles from entering the earth’s oceans; with its plastic-collection partners, the company has saved more than 30 million plastic bottles since 2019. In 2021, the company achieved its sustainability goal of being “plastic negative.”
A number of Solgaard products are now constructed from Shore-TexTM fabric and Shore-PlastTM (high-impact, durable material made from ocean-bound plastic). The Shore-TexTM line of Solgaard bags is made from ocean-bound plastics collected in the Philippines that are recycled, made into fabric in Taiwan, and sewn together in China. In the future, Adrian Solgaard hopes there will be a supply chain in place to perform the whole process in one place. The company also uses recycled polycarbonate to make the durable, hard-shell exterior of their luggage, as well as ReLux, a fabric constructed from excess luxury-handbag material. The frame in the Carry-On Closet is made from recycled aluminum.
All those recycled materials don’t compromise the durability, either. Solgaard has a 10-year warranty on all suitcases, a 24-month warranty on all bags, and a one-year warranty on all electronics. By the way, the company also promises that all orders will be processed within one to two business days, and free shipping is available on orders over $100 in the continental United States.
Content, Digital, and Social Marketing
On the content and digital marketing side, Solgaard.co features a “Stories” section with travel tips such as how to master carry-on travel. They also provide lifestyle tips, city guides, and advice on battling jet lag. Want to know where to catch the best spring flowers around the world or how to travel like a pro in Lisbon? Solgaard’s blog has you covered. On YouTube, the brand’s video content includes three-minute videos with tips for traveling to cities such as London, Paris, and New York City, as well as how-to clips offering lessons on packing your stuff into certain suitcases. Solgaard also offers instructional videos on how the Solarbank works and how to pair your Solarbank Boombox.
On Instagram, Solgaard shows off its personality to 100,000-plus followers by sharing witty travel videos, humorous photos of people on their adventures, and beautiful snaps from far-off destinations such as Iceland and Norway. They also use social media to do promotional giveaways with partners such as Kosan Travel, a clothing brand with a similar ethical mindset. But it’s not all about self-promotion. Solgaard has earned its fair share of press coverage and appears to have done so the old-fashioned way: with innovative product design that draws attention from media who want to share these inventions with their audiences. The big media fish who have been hooked by the Solgaard PR line include Rolling Stone, Esquire, Popular Mechanics, and Wired. The latter listed the Carry-On Closet as one of its “27 Favorite Products Made of Recycled and Upcycled Materials” in 2022, while Fast Company called Shore-TexTM one of 2020’s “world changing ideas.”
Solgaard also hosts an online travel club, the Solgaard Circle, which is accessible through the company website. An exclusive customer community, the Solgaard Circle allows members to come together to share insights on popular destinations, get advance looks at new products, and listen to experts talk about travel, sustainability, and productivity. One recent post encouraged members to enter a contest to win $50 in Solgaard credit by simply sharing a photograph that shows how they pack for a weekend getaway. The Solgaard Circle even boasts private spaces where members can connect and hang out while talking about travel destinations. It seems there are plenty of global citizens who want to shop responsibly and choose sustainability without sacrificing premium quality, as Solgaard’s founder likes to say.
For their commitment to environmentalism, product ingenuity, and community building within its target audience, we are excited to call Solgaard a Brand We Love!