Shopping Sustainably with Urban Market Bags’ Cindy Goldberg and Kerri Stenson

May 28, 2014

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good and we’re so excited to have with us today Kerri Stenson and Cindy Goldberg. They’re the co-founders of Urban Market Bags. Welcome to Green is Good, Kerri and Cindy. KERRI AND CINDY: Thank you so much, John. UMB logo.jpgJOHN SHEGERIAN: It’s so great to have you both here, to have women entrepreneurs on the show doing great things. Before we get talking about your great brand, Urban Market Bags, please share the fascinating story behind Kerri Stenson and Cindy Goldberg, how you met, how you made a business, what other things you’re doing together, share the journey together before we even get into to talking about Urban Market Bags. KERRI STENSON: Great. Well, we met through our kids at a school in Woodside, California and we immediately discovered that we have so many synergies and very community minded, tons of volunteering for the school, and what we’ve discovered is that when we work together, we can move mountains and have a lot of fun doing it so after volunteering and running all sorts of things through the school for a good nine, ten years, we’ve started a local magazine, a food magazine that’s all about sustainable living and eating locally and healthily and that’s called, “Edible Silicon Valley” and through that, our love for our friendship and working together has really sprung the impetus for Urban Market Bags, which has just been truly a joy and a pleasure. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Got it and how long ago did you start Urban Market Bags? KERRI STENSON: We started Urban Market Bags really about a month ago but the idea came up in October. We started thinking about colors for the bags, designs for the bags, Cindy did the whole website, we did all the legal work on our own and we’ve just been kind of getting it going. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Okay so give the epiphany. You ladies are obviously inspiring. You’re innovative, creative, you’ve got massive amounts of energy. You were already doing a business together, “Edible Silicon Valley” magazine. Why Urban Market Bags? What was the aha moment for both of you when you were together that made you create this as your next venture? KERRI STENSON: Well, we love to have fun and we love to live smart and be fashionable and this product allows for all of that and we just want to kind of share the love with the whole world actually. CINDY GOLDBERG: Especially now that there are about 119 plastic bag ordinances around the United States, it’s a life opportunity for people to experience reusable shopping bags that are high quality and really good looking and cool. Some of them out there aren’t so cool. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I agree with you, by the way, on the not so cool stuff so I love it. CINDY GOLDBERG: That was our inspiration was to help people look good while doing good. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I’m on your beautiful website right now and for our listeners out there that want to follow along or want to buy some of Kerri and Cindy’s beautiful looking bags, it’s www.urbanmarketbags.com and it’s a fun site. There’s so many cute photos on it and cute sayings. It draws you in. It’s fun to be on the site. I was all over it last night during the pre-show prep and I’m looking at a shot right now and the colors are just really engaging so kudos to both of you for making such a beautiful and fun website. Let’s talk about the Urban Market Bags and how are you getting the word out there? Are you going to stores in the Woodside area where you live and are they going to be carrying the bags or is this going to be only through social media and your website? What’s your vision of how to socialize your brand with everyone you want to purchase it? KERRI STENSON: Our original thinking is we’re lucky enough to have our website platform on NetSuite and we basically decided that we were going to really push online in the beginning. We have a wonderful person working with us on marketing and social media and so we’ve been just kind of slowly getting the word out and we’ve had retailers contact us so for us, the sky’s the limit. We wanted to build our back end to be as robust as possible and now it’s just kind of get out there and go for it. CINDY GOLDBERG: Right. We’ve designed it in a way that it can be completely scalable so the sky’s the limit for us. We’ve hooked up with a warehouse that’s all automated so that our entire system can scale to the moon and back without having to rewrite a bunch of logic so we designed it from the ground up to be a large company that can support lots of products. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And is the vision to get really big in terms of getting this into different store chains and having them get rid of some of the less fun looking or visually exciting or even quality related bags that they have and getting your bags into those kind of stores or is it just for the general public at large and its really more B to C? What’s your vision, both B to B and B to C or one or the other? KERRI STENSON: Our vision is really both. This is really a solution to sustainable living. People are starting to clue in about bringing their own bags to the store but it’s not always easy when they’re so bulky and they’re stuck in the trunk and so we created this system to make it easy and fun and frankly, stylish, for people to bring their own bags and we have a strategy to co-brand with big stores and really get the bags out there so that everybody is using them. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Let’s talk about what makes your system smart and also the convenient pack that comes into it. Talk a little bit about design and the convenience of your bag and the smart system that you’ve created. CINDY GOLDBERG: Urban Market Bags is all about the design. To sum it up, most important feature is the fact that they come in a drawstring pack, six or three to a pack, and they fit in the cup holder of your car. That’s the most important thing. We were observing the problems that people were having and their reluctance to use reusable bags. That was the primary complaint so this solves that problem. We wanted to design is so that it’s in your face and you don’t forget your bags. They’re not in the trunk of the car. They’re not floating around somewhere under the back seat. They’re right there in front of you and you won’t forget them again. We’ve been living with these now for a while, Kerri and I have, and our families and I can guarantee you that it’s a whole different way of life when you have these sitting right there in front of you and men like them too for that exact reason. They fit in the cup holder. They don’t carry a handbag and so they’re right there, front and center. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And they’re made out of 100% Supplex nylon. What is that and how friendly is that to keep clean and to keep tidy? KERRI STENSON: We chose Supplex nylon as a fabric that is extremely durable yet has a sleek feel to it and it comes in beautiful colors and while it does eventually biodegrade over time, the point of these bags is that they are truly reusable. You can wash them. Stains come out. Sticky food comes out and they just live on and on and on. CINDY GOLDBERG: That was one of the other problems that Kerri and I and our families observed with the other reusable bags, the big flat bottomed bags. You can’t wash them so I’m glad you brought up that point, John, because so many checkers at different grocery stores tell us they love these bags because they’re always looking good. We can throw them in the washing machine, the dryer, a million times and they still look amazing. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is awesome. Both of you have mentioned design. Who’s the designer here? How did you design such a bag that’s so cool looking and so functional but also so compact and convenient? KERRI STENSON: This was just an idea that I came up with kind of years ago and it was for this exact reason, to kind of make it easier to bring your own bags. What could you do? And the idea came to myself and a mutual friend of mine of gosh, what about the cup holder of your car? You can’t even put the car in park or drive without knowing that they’re there and the actual bags were designed to kind of mimic a plastic bag. In the olden days, baggers used to like to put the bag on those two little things that stuck out while they loaded it and so that’s really how the initial design came out. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Gotcha and for our listeners who just joined us, we’ve got Kerri Stenson and Cindy Goldberg with us today. They’re the Co-Founders of Urban Market Bags. To buy these wonderful bags and to check out what they’re doing, it’s www.urbanmarketbags.com. What’s the feedback been? If I was to guess, you two both have a huge boatload of friends in the community at large up in the area that you live in so I’m sure you’ve shared these bags with friends and family members. What’s the feedback you’ve gotten before you even went to market on these bags? CINDY GOLDBERG: The feedback has been overwhelming for Urban Market Bags. It’s funny because our customers are actually our best ambassadors. We’ve put a couple of the testimonials on the website but we have so many that have been coming in but the funny thing that we’ve been laughing so much about is that we’ve been receiving photos just emailed to our info@urbanmarketbags.com email addresses and it’s photos of all the bags full in the trunk of someone’s car, all the beautiful colors lined up, or in the front seat and the funniest thing is that the vast majority of these photos recently have been from men so men are so excited about these bags and I honestly think that, like Kerri said earlier, it makes it very easy to use these bags. It’s not a pain. You don’t have to try to carry all these ridiculous cumbersome bags so people love them and they’re so excited to tell us about it and, in addition, what we’ve also noticed is that the minute somebody orders a set and they use them for a little bit, they are back on our website and they’re ordering more for their families, for their friends. We’ve had people order 20 sets already just to sent them as Christmas gifts in the future so people are very excited. Kerry, maybe you can correct me if I’m wrong. I have not heard one person ever make a criticism about the design, about the color, about the bags, never. KERRI STENSON: No, it’s more like alleluia. CINDY GOLDBERG: Exactly, like thank you! JOHN SHEGERIAN: I’m on the site now and I see two groups of bags and I want you to explain this to our listeners. One says rural, one says metro. They’re beautiful palettes of colors and I don’t want to muck it up by saying something wrong so explain the choices of colors under the rural heading and the choices of colors under the metro because they’re both beautiful palettes. Explain to our listeners out there that don’t have the website up the color choice you’ve made and how many colors these wonderful bags come in. KERRI STENSON: So there are, as you mentioned, two color sets and there are also two versions so there is a six pack and a three pack and we were really inspires, frankly by the word urban and we were just thinking gosh, this is great for city living but it’s also great for more rural living and we were inspired by nature and also, like I said, urban living so we came up with metro, kind of thinking of New York. CINDY GOLDBERG: We love New York, guys! KERRI STENSON: We love New York so we sat down one night and we had a nice glass of wine and we just spent hours and hours and hours with the pantone color guides, just getting inspiration and it really came to being and people are absolutely loving the colors and particularly how they go together. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wonderful. So people can choose either the rural or the metro and then they order those all together in one order? KERRI STENSON: That’s right. There are six different colors in the six pack and three different colors in the three packs. CINDY GOLDBERG: And we’re excited about our next step, maybe in a few months. We’re going to be coming out with more and more colors in the future so stay tuned and keep your eyes on that website. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Speaking of that website, I’ve now switched over and I’ve gone to another website while we’re talking, which is your other business venture, “Edible Silicon Valley”. Eat, drink, read, think. Now wait a second. You ladies are just like the sustainable twins here or something like that. This is amazing! One business wasn’t enough? You’re doing two businesses. This is a beautiful website and you’re doing beautiful things here in terms of what you’re talking about, farmer’s markets and organic foods and this is just another inspiring and innovative website and with tons of great information. Talk a little bit about how do you split your days? You have families. You’ve got Urban Market Bags. You’ve got “Edible Silicon Valley”. Did you ladies figure out how to have 40 hours in the day? What’s going on? KERRI STENSON: I’ll tell you how we do it. We have a little phrase that we say to each other all the time. It’s ‘Get er done’. CINDY GOLDBERG: We just don’t give ourselves the option. By the way, thank you for such a lovely thought about both of our websites but we are just so inspired by the things around us locally. We’re so fortunate to live in an area where we have all of our farmer’s markets and our local farming and our fantastic wineries and restaurants. Kerri is Editor and Publisher of “Edible” and I’m doing the website for her but when we took on Urban Market Bags in addition, we did have to divide out time somewhat but they’re so well integrated, they really do kind of both lend themselves to our mindset that Kerri and I both agree with and that is to live your life the best way you can and feel good about what you’re doing. Urban Market Bags really does help with that lifestyle and so it’s a perfect combination and it’s been fun, a lot of the crossover between the two companies so we do divide and conquer and yes, we have a bunch of children between us and all of our volunteer work as well but we get er done. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s awesome. That’s really the essence of a great partnership, to see two already successful brands that you both have done together. We’ve got unfortunately only about three and a half minutes left. Talk a little bit about what’s on your plate developing other sustainable products. What’s coming down in the future for Kerri Stenson and Cindy Goldberg? KERRI STENSON: World domination! JOHN SHEGERIAN: I feel that coming for sure! KERRI STENSON: Right now, we’re really focused on this product because it’s so fabulous and we would love to see it get into the hands of all Americans and people all across the world. We do have some very special ideas brewing. CINDY GOLDBERG: Top secret! KERRI STENSON: We have plans to really create a whole sustainable line of Urban products. CINDY GOLDBERG: We really feel strongly about incorporating sustainable products into people’s lifestyles and it’s just not for crunchy people anymore. It’s for everybody and so what we’re doing is we’re providing a way for everybody to look like they want to look and kind of be fashionable at the same time so that you don’t have to kind of make a choice. Do I want to be green or do I still want to look good? You can do both. JOHN SHEGERIAN: The cool part is, I don’t have to tell this to you ladies but you’ve captured two trends here, two megatrends. One, the flight back to cities, the urban megatrend of people going back to the cities and really the redevelopment of our cities across America and the renewal of our cities across America. Two, sustainability. Both are here to stay. Both are growing wildly and I love the brand name, Urban Market, so I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of things you can do with that. We’re down to the last minute or so. Tips on living more sustainably, go. KERRI STENSON: Well, buy Urban Market Bags. It’s a very easy way to make a huge impact on the environment. CINDY GOLDBERG: And that’s Kerri’s and my philosophy too. Sometimes the smallest changes can have a huge impact. This is a very small change that you can make in your lifestyle that really does make a difference. Twenty billion bags in the state of California are used a year but not anymore and so it’s an easy way to make a huge change. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Well that’s great and I really do want to have you ladies back on to talk about all the other new products you’re going to be releasing and the continued successful journey of “Edible Silicon Valley” and Urban Market Bags and to buy Urban Market Bags and to enjoy their great new product, please go to www.urbanmarketbags.com. Kerri Stenson, Cindy Goldberg, thank you for inspiring everyone to live a more sustainable life and thanks for both being living proof that Green is Good. CINDY GOLDBERG: Thanks, John. KERRI STENSON: Thank you so much.