Ethnotek bags stand out from the pack with their colorful, globally inspired woven designs. It's the college in Boulder, Dead Head loving, frizzy hair, festival going you, and the grown up, running a company from a laptop at an indie coffee house and adventure traveling in Costa Rica you, all rolled into one durable backpack. The bags themselves are made out of a sturdy, water-resistant nylon, and then dressed up with interchangeable front panels, called Threads, that are created from textiles handwoven by artisans in villages around the world—Guatemala to Ghana; Indonesia to Vietnam.
The bags caught the eye of REI and launched in REI stores nationwide three years ago (with a thread design exclusive to the recreational retailer). Ethnotek has since been picked up by outdoors stores, bike shops and boutiques around the world. But on Friday, Ethnotek is coming home, for its first Minneapolis trunk show.
That's right: this company on a mission to fuse ethnology and technology and give new purpose to a dying craft in far off places was founded by a couple of guys who went to Eastview High School in Apple Valley. Jake Orak oversees manufacturing and artisans from Vietnam. Josh Linde manages operations from Minneapolis, along with a third partner, Megan Suzynski, a St. Olaf College grad who fell in love with her Ethnotek bag, and parlayed that into a position as sales director. Until last week, the bags were stored and shipped from Orak's mom's basement in Eagan.
The new wallet from Ethnotek
Ethnotek just moved into a fulfillment center in the Twin Cities, and decided it was time to connect with the hometown crowd with an event at Cliche, one of the small, independent boutiques that has supported the company from its early days. Ethnotek will debut two new styles at the Cliche trunk show: a smaller, cross-body bag and a wallet—lower priced items aimed at a customer that might not be shopping the REIs of the world. Both styles will be available at the event for purchase and pre-order, a month before they hit other stores. Check out the brand, meet some of the players, and keep your eyes on Ethnotek—there's much more to come. Friday, May 16, 7 to 10 p.m. 2403 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.