The Professional Touch: Design Your Work Wardrobe with Tracy Dyer of Urban Junket

by Kate Jacobsen | April 26th, 2012   

By Kate Jacobsen

Just because Earth Day is over doesn’t mean that you have to suddenly stop the fight for a cleaner environment. Your fight can continue in your daily life through recycling, turning off the water while brushing your teeth and even by making eco-friendly purchases. Eco-friendly purchases include cleaning products and organic foods but how do they translate to fashion and your working wardrobe? There are many eco-friendly fashion labels that have manifested in the past 5 – 1o years as a result of a more Earth-conscious society. Are you worried that by making the transition to eco-friendly products, you will be sacrificing style and functionality?

Meet Tracy Dyer. She is the founder of Urban Junket, an eco-friendly handbag line based in Minneapolis, MN that promises to “fill the unmet needs of busy women who love fashion and style, but still need to carry and organize their stuff in a functional way.”

dyers large 300x224 The Professional Touch: Design Your Work Wardrobe with Tracy Dyer of Urban Junket

Dr. Wayne Dyer & Daughter Tracy Dyer

Dyer sat down with TheWorkingWardrobe to discuss her functional, stylish and eco-friendly bags that are sure to rescue all types of working women in more ways than one. Read the full interview here.

TWW: What inspired you to start Urban Junket?

Tracy: I was really inspired by seeing the demand for better product first hand. Several years ago, I had what I liked to call the best job at Best Buy. I was part of the Innovation team at Best Buy and together with my marketing team, we acquired the Geek Squad concept and turned it into a Big Box service model for Best Buy.  In doing so, I directed several focus groups with women wanting to get their feedback on the Geek Squad concept.  Instead, I repeatedly heard the same thing from so many women….”why aren’t there any decent laptop bags for women? They’re all so ugly and if you can’t buy one at Best Buy, where do I find one?”  This repeated suggestion set the wheels in motion and soon after, Urban Junket was born.

TWW: Where does the inspiration from your functional designs come from?

Tracy: As a corporate traveler, I often experienced my own frustrations in having to carry a purse, a work bag, and of course, a carry-on to transport my clothing.  In coming up with my first designs, I created bags that would combine at the very least, my first two needs in one.

TWW: I know your bags are made from recycled plastic bottles. As a wholesaler/designer/retailer, what is the importance of being socially responsible when it comes to the composition of your products?

Tracy: We spend a lot of time and effort to work with very specialized materials – for example the coating for our t.o.t.e. collection {to observe the earth} is formulated to meet the European Reach requirements, which are the highest standards in the world.  The limits on all potentially dangerous chemicals are spelled out and our suppliers have to meet those standards in order to work with us.  I feel that it isn’t that difficult to start making small changes toward helping the ecology of our planet.  It doesn’t seem right to me that many manufacturers continue to do things the way they always have been done out of laziness or a lack of information.  When I decided to create this line, I didn’t really think it would be that difficult to find the materials and get the manufacturers to comply – I was wrong.  It has been quite a challenge, but I still feel like it is the right thing to do.

TWW: As a follow-up to that question, what is the importance of consumer social responsibility? Have you found this to be a huge selling point when it comes to your bags?

Tracy: Personally I feel that being socially responsible is a really important factor, but sadly, I still think that it is an afterthought for most consumers.  The bottom line is the design is still the most important factor – if a customer loves the design and color of our bags, they tend to think that the eco-friendly factor is a bonus.  I am starting to hear from a few more customers lately saying that they only purchase sustainable products, but I do think these people are still vastly in the minority.

TWW: Our publication is geared towards working women. From your collection, which three bags would you suggest to them and why?


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Kathy Padded Backpack $118

Tracy: Our entire line is focused on working women, though we do find plenty of moms using our bags as diaper bags and plenty of students using our bags too. I guess I would have to suggest the 15” Laptop Messenger – this is our most popular bag.  This bag converts from a messenger bag to a backpack and I think a lot of working women love that feature.  Our Robin Laptop Bag is also really popular with working women and our Kathy Backpack.  I use the Kathy Backpack when I travel lately and, I get stopped by women in airports all over the world asking me where I got the backpack.  I think they are drawn to the colors and the fact that it looks a bit more stylish than your average backpack.

TWW: How can a working woman achieve functionality while being stylish at the same time? Do you keep the style factor in mind when designing the bags?

Tracy: Style and functionality are the two most important attributes we apply to our designs.  We really try to think about how the bags will be used and make sure that we address as many functional issues as possible.  We also try to incorporate a mix of eclectic styling and professionalism.  Professional doesn’t need to mean stodgy anymore, so why not have a little fun with color and design and brighten up the very black wardrobe of our working customers.

This is the copy that we use to talk about the styling of our t.o.t.e. and Power Trips collections: We build bags with your lifestyle in mind.  We know you are on the go and need to stay connected, but that doesn’t mean you want to sacrifice style, does it? Our professional and slightly eclectic designs are made of the same eco-friendly materials used in our t.o.t.e. {to observe the earth} collection.

TWW: What designer or brand that in your opinion produces appropriate and stylish work fashion would you pair with an Urban Junket bag and why?

Tracy: I think Mosey out of Portland Oregon makes great bags with interesting detail and a lot of thought put in to the styling.  They also play with color in an interesting way.

I really like Diaper Dude bags as well – they make a line for women called Diaper Diva and now they are a starting to focus on laptop bags for moms and dads.  I like it when design is born out of a need and there is some common sense applied to the creation of new products.  Both Mosey and Diaper Dude have done a great job of applying fun design to the need for better bags in their spaces.

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Robin Laptop Tote Bag $139

Do yourself a favor and purchase an Urban Junket bag today. It will eliminate the typical working woman bag drama and daily commute woes. The best part about your purchase: you can feel good about doing your part for the environment! You can also follow Urban Junket on Twitter and “Like” them on Facebook.