Today, I’m sharing a fun interview that I had with the founders of the Onnix London bag (I have a feeling that you guys are going to love this brand!!). I first came across the bag in a Facebook group for bloggers and I was so impressed with the quality and versatility that this bag offered, it was truly unlike anything that I have ever seen! The first thing that drew me to the bag was how stylish and functional the Onnix bag is.
I greatly admire Lizz and Ha for everything that they have achieved and I cannot wait to see the both of them reach their goals. I hope that you enjoy learning more about them and please stay tuned for part two of this feature!
Part One: Ha Do
Hello, Ha! Can you tell me about your background?
HD: My name is Ha, I consider myself a feminist and an international citizen. I grew up in Vietnam, moved to Finland for university studies and worked for a Finnish book publishing company overseeing its projects and customers in 35 countries. I am obsessed with innovation and making everyday things better, even just a little bit at a time.
Why did you and Lizz pick the name Onnix?
HD: Onni is Finnish for luck and happiness. After searching within the Company House and seeing that OnnixLondon.com as well as Onnixbags.com was available we believed it was our luck. It's quite rare to find availability with good names. Onni x London. Onni x Bags. It has a nice ring and message to it!
Why did you decide to start Onnix Bags?
HD: I have always believed that less is more. Thus I started my first venture making high quality minimal black socks. After ohmysock, which was mostly for men I wanted to create something useful for women, including myself. I used to buy a lot of bags that would either go out of style or break within a few months and I wanted to change this. When I met Lizz at a cafe and told her about my idea of the perfect travel handbag, she told me she had tried to do backpack before along the same theme: functional, stylish, luxurious and affordable. Onnix started not long after that.
What has been the biggest challenge?
HD: For me, the biggest challenge is to make a bag with great quality and craftsmanship without breaking the bank. We want to ensure fair wage to our craftsmen and women, make the bags out the highest quality hardware and leather which to our finding is from Switzerland and Italy respectively. We also source leather from sustainable tannery that treats their water consciously before releasing to the rivers. It is a real challenge to do all that while keeping our price around GBP 350 for Kickstarter and around GBP 650 for retail.
Our production partner has been making bags for luxury brands including Burberry, Mulberry and Aspinal of London. The other day he was shocked to hear that we are selling the bags for such amount. In his words “You are giving it away, aren’t you?” My answer was: “It’s what Kickstarter is about, people trust you and give you money many months in advance to build your dream. Even if the campaign is fully funded we’ll break”.
What inspired you both to make Onnix Bags sustainable?
HD: To be completely honest, sustainability has been more of a side effect than a goal in itself for me, I hope to create a bag that lasts, not only its functionality but also its look. I guess if you can use a handful of Onnix bags to fit with all the clothing in your wardrobe for decades, my goal is accomplished.
Of course we do pay more for factories with REACH and ISO for wastewater and chemical management, that is to make sure our leather is good quality and the chemical is safe, we really don't want toxic chemical anywhere near your bag. Likewise, we don't want harmful chemical in our own water system either. In China there have been more than a few incident of "cancer village" because of toxic chemicals, and as a Vietnamese I am too well aware of this.
The bag is incredibly stunning, does it usually register to people that it is both a clutch and a handbag?
HD: I have not shown it to many, at first glance you can’t tell that it is a 2-in-1 bag. On the occasions when I go out with it, people do stare at it on the tube. They stare at the bag especially when I use a pop colour clutch on the black bag, I don’t think anyone has seen many bags quite like this.
Has anyone ever approached you in public about it?
Not really, people in London don’t usually approach others in public. On one occasion, I sat right next to 2 ladies, one had a Prada bag and the other had a Burberry. They stared at my bag for so long that I blushed! See, the thing is that this bag is going to be made in the same place where they make Burberry bags. The quality is the exact same but the price will be a lot cheaper.
I can tell that the bags are very high quality and they really stand out. But what do you guys need in order for you both to make the Onnix bags a reality? What can everyone do to help?
HD: We need about 40 more people to buy the bag within the next 2 and a half weeks. At the moment, we are selling the bag at factory price, so those who purchase now automatically get a 50% discount. You can purchase your own Onnix bag here:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/onnix/onnix-bags-redefining-handbags-for-modern-women-on?utm_source=Talia%20blog&utm_medium=Talia%20Blog&utm_campaign=Talia%20blog
Part Two: Lizz Choi
Hi Lizz! Can you tell me a little about your background?
LC: A daughter of missionaries I’m Korean, but grew up in the Dominican Republic, moved to New York after school and now living in London with my husband and toddler girl.
I started out as an intern in TV and broadcast journalism during my university studies. After Uni I went onto Wall Street, NYC hedge funds operations, before leaving to join the “startup world”. I went back to intern for a female entrepreneur, then I worked at an adTech company before moving to London to pursue my entrepreneurial journey.
Ha and I met throughout the entrepreneur journey through a connection and like she mentioned we realized how much we had in common in terms of wanting to create something new, innovative and exciting. We have very different skillsets, backgrounds and interests but the important thing is that we respect each other and our differences and admire the other person. It truly is like a marriage.
I know that Ha has already answered this, but why did you both decide on the name ‘Onnix’?
LC: In addition to what Ha mention which is quite methodical. We’re feminists and believe in empowering women. Women have ownership of their happiness and luck. #CreateYourOnni
Why did you decide to start Onnix Bags?
LC: What Ha said. We have different backgrounds and interests but both are passionate about innovation and functionality. I had worked on two bag ideas before, one a functional backpack about 4-5 years ago and then again last year as a nappy clutch ;) So the idea of a functional carry has been haunting me.
What has been the biggest challenge?
LC: In my case, it's prioritizing all our to dos aside from production. From all the different social channels, thinking of retail, partnership conversations to HR / hiring interns, managing time and making sure that we are making traction so that our brand is recognized "enough" to get a push on Kickstarter. You need 30-40% of your project "funded" before you launch. As in you should know who these backers will be before you launch so that you'll have a successful campaign. Kickstarter is a 0 or all game, so if our campaign is 90% funded we will be producing NO bags.
Why make Onnix Bags Sustainable?
LC: Sustainability is a by-product of what we care about. We believe in fair working conditions, fair wages and a minimalistic lifestyle. That said, I love fashion and believe it to be an artistic form, a way of self-expression. So, I wanted to break the mold that sustainability is boring and ugly. We also care about the long-term effects on the environment, in my case, especially since having become a mum and the future of the generation to come.
If Onnix were a person with her own unique identity, how would you best describe her?
LC: She’s a free spirit, she is strong, she is curious and she loves to travel. She knows that it’s a tough world, but that she is empowered to create her luck and happiness. She works in a male dominated field yet confidently shows her style. She is a badass hard-core woman and may keep her femininity hidden at times, but she embraces and loves it. She is always learning, growing and wants to leave a lasting legacy. Onni means happiness and luck in Finnish, once again our hashtag: #CreateYourOnni.
Onnix London Social Media Links:
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/onnixcreate/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OnnixBags/?fref=nf