Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Mitchell.
Nicole, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
While I studied abroad in Lyon, France, I visited the Marijuana and Hemp Museum in Amsterdam. I was in awe of the power that hemp crops possess to restore balance in Earth’s ecosystems and atmosphere. With all that is happening within our current climate, I was determined to develop a brand that combined industrial Hemp with minimalist traveling values.
I first started my journey in Oakland, where I began traveling to various cities to attend travel, fashion, tech, and cannabis networking events for inspiration and guidance. I finally pursued designing a custom hemp duffle bag made here in the states. The research and development phase lasted about a year and a half, and I was blessed to meet Urbane’s photographer, Nicholas Liwag, at a past retail job in San Francisco along the way. Nick has been loyal from the start and visually built our brand tone before we had a finalized sample.
I believe our visual content was the driving force that transformed our followers into a loyal community. Today we have sold out of all of our initial product launches and prepping to roll out new products this fall season.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I got started in 2016, it wasn’t easy sourcing eco-friendly fabrics and vendors. I traveled to various fabric trade shows around the country, leaving with less than a handful of companies offering limited eco-options. When I attended Marijuana business events, there were only a few women or people of color in attendance, so I often felt out of place yet empowered. Additionally, the focus of cannabis events at the time was not on industrial hemp sectors, so it took some time to find my hemp community.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Urbane Luggage – what should we know?
Urbane Luggage is the first Black-Woman-owned hemp luggage online shop. We mindfully design durable and eco-friendly hemp travel bags and accessories for Urbane Travelers.
We are known for our first product launch, The Timeless Weekender Duffel; its minimalist design features a shoe compartment, magnetic snap front pocket, spacious packing area with the hands-free convenience of a shoulder bag. It’s constructed with 100% custom dyed Hemp, contrasting Tencel™ lining and trimmed in eco-faux leather. We sold out of the Timeless Weekenders by the beginning of this year and planned to launch three new styles at the 1st Hemp Fashion Show hosted by LATTC in March. But, as we know, the COVID-19 quarantine order went into full effect.
I had to quickly pivot my priorities in response to the non-medical face mask shortage in the US. I partnered with my friend Candance, who owns natural hair care products, BeaYOU Hair, and we designed the Urbane Hemp Face Mask that possesses antibacterial properties. But between COVID-19 and protesting in LA around social injustice, we were mentally exhausted and wanted to do more to uplift our communities.
After collaborative brainstorming, we curated the Urbane Hemp Box featuring Black Women-Owned Hemp products that protect, heal, and calm the spirit. I’m so proud of how my team produced an all-women powered project the morning after marching in Beverly Hills for a peaceful protest and leaving with our hearts racing and heightened emotions the day before our shoot. Once we were on set with photographer Nicole Besiok, I could see how everyone was fueled with raw passion and channeled their energy and talent to align with each other.
What sets us apart from other luggage brands is that our focus is on the reality of travelers. Our products are sustainable, durable, and designed to support different lifestyles for generations to come.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I’m excited about the Hemp industry’s future now that we can grow legally in the US. Within the next 5-10 years, you will see a major eco-swap in products and materials that will benefit the Earth and our health. More importantly, we will have the power to provide necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing for people in need via Hemp.
We are currently developing a new Urbane brand that will design various hemp products to enhance the quality of the products we consume for our livelihood.
- Urbane Hemp Mask (Black, StoneGrey, PurpleRose, Mineral Red) – $10/each
- Urbane Hemp Mask x BeaYOU Hemp Hair Growth Serum Bundle – $20
- Urbane Hemp Box (TLCBD by T-Boz, BeaYOU Hemp Hair Growth Serum, Eclectic Relaxation Candle, and Urbane Hemp Mask) – $40
- Website: urbaneluggage.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/theurbanetraveler
- Facebook: facebook.com/urbaneluggage
- Twitter: twitter.com/urbaneluggage
- Other: youtube.com/theurbanetraveler
Nicholas Liwag (Team Photos, Unisex (couple) duffel bag image), Nicol Biesek (Mask product shot, Urbane Hemp Box, lifestyle shots of BeaYou x Urbane, candle & hemp serum), Courtney Jefferson (Grey Duffel)