In mid-January, the Zappos LEAF team traveled to the Mission District of San Francisco to spend an exciting day at the Timbuk2 headquarters. Since 1989, Timbuk2 has been making some of the finest messenger bags, luggage and laptop bags on the market. The Zappos LEAF team was invited to visit the Timbuk2 office and factory to see first hand what makes these bags so unique and eco-friendly.
It’s all about the company culture. Timbuk2 was founded by a hardcore bike enthusiast, Rob Honeycutt, who started sewing his own bags in his garage. Twenty-five years later, the Timbuk2 crew is still making world-class bags inside a warehouse in the Mission District. Guided by their mission, To inspire urban mobility, enable individuality, and promote responsibility – we saw first hand that this company maintains the passion for quality and innovation by staying true to its roots and community.
The Timbuk2 office feels like a startup. The renovated warehouse has high loft ceilings, natural light and an open office floor plan. Teams sit in little clusters of desks across two floors. The employees on the upper floor need only to look over the handrail to see the teams below. There are no offices or doors. CEO Patti Cazzato sits right next to everyone else. At times the office was eerily quiet while everyone was engrossed in his/her work, and at other times the office was vibrant, energetic and loud. The open office design was very familiar to the Zappos crew. At Zappos HQ in Las Vegas, our 1,500 employees sit in an open office as well. Read why we think open offices work for us here.
Timbuk2 has not forgotten its roots in the biking community. Just like the bike messengers of San Francisco, many of the Timbuk2 employees ride their bike to work each day. There is ample indoor bike parking inside the warehouse and a shower for sweaty commuters. Timbuk2 recently launched bike sharing in its San Francisco and Seattle retail stores. Customers can checkout a bike, bag, helmet and lock for the day by simply leaving their driver’s license and credit card with the store clerk. The bike-sharing program has been very successful and is a great fit for a company founded on bike transportation. The Zappos team took home lots of great ideas for starting our own employee and/or customer bike-sharing program in downtown Las Vegas.
What’s really cool is that 40% of Timbuk2 bags are made right in their San Francisco warehouse, including 100% of the custom bags that you can design and order on Timbuk2.com. Custom-design bags are made in just minutes!
I had the amazing opportunity to design a custom messenger bag and then watch it get made right before my eyes. But the coolest part is the zero-waste philosophy of “Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle, Reimagine” First, the fabrics are cut perfectly to leave very little scrap material. The small amounts of scraps are recycled with Terracycle. Additionally, the Timbuk2 Lifecycle program encourages their customers to send the bags back to them for repair. If a bag cannot be repaired, Timbuk2 will recycle it AND send the customer a 20% coupon off his/her next bag. How cool!
After an amazing day in the warehouse, the LEAF team and Timbuk2 team went out to the local bar to unwind and recap the day’s events. We talked about how our two companies – one twenty-five years old, the other fifteen years old – felt as young, passionate and determined as ever. We found so many similarities between the Zappos and Timbuk2 cultures – it’s like our companies were cut from the same cloth!