• Finding terroir in softgoods.
  • Michael Barakat
Finding terroir in softgoods.


Disclaimer - This is a journal / diary style post. If you don’t want to read my rambling thoughts, just jump down to the last paragraph for the abridged more meaty version of this:

The other day I had the opportunity to pitch my backpack in front of a crowd of people at Creative Mornings in Seattle, WA. When I was initially asked to do the 60 sec pitch I was a little bit nervous. Not because I had to talk in front of a large group, that sort of thing actually doesn’t worry me.


I was nervous because I didn’t want to come across as sales-ee, even though that was the whole point really - to sell some backpacks - duh. Another admission: I actually don’t even mind being sales-ee when it’s the right situation. I think it’s kind of cool - weird right? But, in the case of Mackerel Crow I’m just trying to do what I feel is true to myself. I’m not trying to reinvent anything, these products are just supposed to be good, utilitarian and straight from my heart to you… so anyway… I’ve been in the consumer goods industry for a little while so I know how to pitch a product. But, at this event I wanted to talk about why it’s important to represent yourself and your region in what you do, but more importantly why it’s important to buy, use and source USA made and designed things. I design and prototype everything I make in my little shop pictured above.


We live in a time where many products are digital and there is no terroir with those kinds of products. It’s a rare day that you open an iPhone app for the first time and say to yourself, “gee I can really smell the harbor air of the Bay Area in this app.” But, wouldn’t that be amazing if you could? Part of the philosophy behind Mackerel Crow is to give the owner of the product a sense of where it came from. These bags were designed and refined in the Great Pacific Northwest. My friends all help me make my products; they all give their feedback and input and I feel very connected to them and the land I live in.


On top of this the Urban Trail Pack is made in a factory by a man who I have learned a great deal from. His name is Saren Has, he is the owner of Emerald Sport Sewing, and used to make backpacks for Eastpack and Jansport until - as he puts it - “NAFTA took all my work away.” If we as designers, makers and consumers don’t make the choice to use resources like Saren, then they and the terroir that I aspire to translate into my products will disappear forever.

The Urban Trail Pack was designed in Seattle and produced by a local factory. The idea was to make a product with someone I could meet, someone that could add to the terroir of the product so this product could represent the United States and the region it came from.

  • Michael Barakat