Interview: Adventurist Backpack Co. and Gear that Gives Back

When it comes to gear purchases, we all have plenty of options. But when it comes to giving back, not all companies are created equal. 

Kelly and Matilda Bellknap love to travel, and both recognized the backpacks they had didn't meet their travel needs. The husband and wife team also felt compelled to give back to the communities they visited, and started by making meals to give to people in need on a trip in the summer of 2017. They combined their desire to help others with their entrepreneurial spirits, and Adventurist Backpack Co. was born. Read more about them, their travels, and why they created their company in our Q&A!

PC: Adventurist Backpack Co. 

Q: During the summer that inspired the creation of Adventurist Backpack Co, where did you travel and why?

We are adventurers at heart in that we both feel most complete while traveling and experiencing new geographies, cultures, and ways of life. That spring/summer, we traveled throughout Europe, South America, and Central America. Matilda is from Sweden, so we often travel back to visit family throughout the year, and always love to explore new places/countries while we're over in Europe. Kelly's mom is from Mexico City, and this trip gave us a great opportunity to explore both areas of the world where we come from, as well as reacquainting ourselves with a few of our favorites.

Q: During your travels, how did you go about purchasing food and distributing meals to people in need?

So our idea came to us as we walked around different cities, seeing and realizing that there were so many people in need. We really wanted to help out in any way that we could, so we decided to go by a supermarket each morning to prepare individual meals (some sort of bread, fruit, and water), which we would pack into little brown paper bags in our backpacks before heading out to explore.

PC: Adventurist Backpack Co.

We were both able to fit about 20 meals in our packs, and would hand them out whenever we would see someone with a sign asking for help, or someone begging for food/money on the street. We learned quickly that it was extremely easy to had out 40-50 meals throughout the day. And more than just handing out meals, we were really just trying to bring some kindness and hope into another person's life, to show them that others care.

Q: Why create a backpack company to donate meals through instead of creating a meal donation company?

We're both entrepreneurs at heart and had plans to start a backpack company before the meal donation piece even entered our minds. Traveling often, we realized that we couldn't find a high-quality, and fashionable daypack for our own adventures under $100. And we realized when we were giving out meals during our trip that it could be the perfect opportunity to do good with our company. 

PC: Adventurist Backpack Co. 

As millennial entrepreneurs, we want to be a part of the emerging generation of socially and environmentally conscious brands. All companies can do something good while providing an excellent product/service. We want to give those in need the best opportunity to succeed, and we think that we have a perfect opportunity ourselves to do just that.

Q: Is Adventurist Backpack Co. a full-time gig for both of you?

Before we started the company, Kelly was a real estate agent and Matilda was going to school for interior design. Now between the unexpected growth of the company, increasing responsibility, and time requirements, we're transitioning to running the business full-time, which we are really excited about!

PC: Adventurist Backpack Co. 

And we have plans to expand our product offerings in the near future. We have three new backpack designs in the works as well as lots of other apparel (hats, totes, shirts/sweaters, etc.) - all of which will provide meals to families in need.

Q: When someone purchases an Adventurist Backpack Co. pack, how do the meals the purchase supports get distributed?

We distribute the meals through Feeding America, the largest hunger non-profit in the U.S.  These meals go to over 200 food banks across the country. Working with Feeding America gives us the opportunity to provide the highest amount of healthy and nutritional meals to families possible, as well as enabling us to keep track of the amount of meals we have provided from our backpacks. This, coupled with fact that Feeding America gets outstanding ratings on Charity Navigator made it an easy decision for us when we needed to choose who to work with.

PC: Adventurist Backpack Co.

Q: Aside from purchasing an Adventurist Backpack Co. pack, how else can we help?

There are so many ways! We always encourage people to research non-profits with high ratings on Charity Navigator and give to any cause important to you. You can also get out in your own city to help by volunteering with an organization or soup kitchen, or by taking food to your local food bank. There are tons of opportunities to give back in one way or another to people in need in your own community, and we highly encourage others to get involved!

Huge thanks to Kelly and Matilda for sharing their story, and inspiring us to take a close look at the companies we buy from to see if there are ways to give back! Visit their contact page to get in touch with them, and click here to learn more about Adventurist Backpack Co.