A look into the life of the co-founder of Leader Bag Co.
We are excited to share our interview with Meghan from Leader Bag Co. If you don't already know, Leader Bag Co makes high-quality, modern, functional diaper bag backpacks with both mom + dad in mind. Crafted in the USA out of the best leather + canvas, these bags will be with you from newborn to big kid.
Tell us a little about you + your family:
I was raised in Whitefish, Montana + grew up surrounded by mountains, lakes, rivers, + open space. My family of 6 spent a lot of time outdoors skiing, hiking, camping, swimming, + the like. I studied Liberal Arts at the University of Montana + that is where I met Dave, my husband. It really was love at first sight. We moved to Portland, Oregon after we graduated + lived there for five years. In those five years, I gave birth to Julien (now 6), we got married at the town hall, Leader Bag Co. was born, we developed a serious passion for great food + coffee, + met some of our most favorite people in this world. We felt a pull to leave Oregon + move to Maine (where Dave grew up) about three years ago + haven't looked back. My husband has been a student the last few years + has applied to med school. Until he figures out his next step, he has been lending his expertise to our company + has been tremendously helpful. And I was fortunate enough to work part time at Judith in Portland soon after we arrived in Maine. I stopped working there shortly before I gave birth to our second son, Robben (now 5 months old). We currently live in Cape Porpoise. We feel blessed to now be surrounded by the ocean, mountains, lakes, good people, good food, good coffee, + family that lives close by.
How did you start Leader Bag Co.?
I was living in Portland, Oregon at the time of Leader Bag Co's inception. I was very pregnant with Julien around the holidays (he was born Jan. 8th) + I was shopping for a diaper bag to give to Dave for a Christmas present. I couldn't find a diaper bag, so I opted for a Brooklyn Industries messenger bag; great for function, not so much for fashion. After a few months of use, I switched to the Fjällräven backpack; stylish + more comfortable, but not super functional. It was around this time that my sister-in-law, Liz (also a new mom), + I had our lightbulb moment: Why isn't there a diaper bag that is beautifully crafted, simply designed + practical for both mom + dad? With the help of my other sister-in-law, Jess, Liz + I formed + funded Leader Bag Co as a family business in 2013. Since inception, we've enlisted the help of technical designer, Jay O'Neill, to bring our idea to life, + the uber-talented Lotta Nieminen to create our brand aesthetic.
What is your favorite accomplishment in your business?
My favorite accomplishment so far with the business has been to actually see our idea come to life! We set out to create a gender neutral diaper bag backpack for both moms AND dads. That did not exist when I was shopping for a bag for my family six years ago. My husband is a very involved father + I feel pretty proud when I see him carrying our Leader bag with confidence.
And as a mother?
My favorite accomplishment as a mother has been to recognize that the best thing that I can do for my kids to see them reach their full potential is getting out of their way + let them be themselves. Nowadays, you will hear me say to Julien on a regular basis, "Do you," + I mean it sincerely.
What role do your children play in your company, Leader Bag Co?
Julien was the initial inspiration for the business, hence, our first product is named after him. So, I'd say he played a very large role. Robben was just our baby model on set at our last photo shoot, so he has played a role too. On a day to day basis, they inspire + motivate me to be my best self. I feel a great responsibility to show up for myself + for them.
What is it like having a new baby + running a small business?
It's AWESOME! I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do. Yes, it has its challenges + it's difficult to find a balance at times + keep up with the day to day, but honestly, it's so freakin' awesome. I love that I get to be home with my boys + fit work in when there is a free moment. It's a constant juggle + we are always re-evaluating what is working + what isn't, but we always figure it out + make it work. There are good days + there are not so good days, you know? But, we get it done + we do the best we can with the tools we have been given. My husband + I make a great team. If he wasn't at home right now, I'm sure it would be a much different story.
What is it like going from one child to two?
I gave birth to Robben one day before Julien started Kindergarten. I didn't intentionally time the spacing between them, but it has actually worked out really nicely. Julien is at school most days, so I am able to have that one-on-one time with Robben which I really love. And Robben sleeps a lot right now, so that allows me my own time to get done what I need to get done. Everything seems so much easier the second time around. I'm much more relaxed + confident about what I'm doing, + if there is a phase that is challenging, I remember that it's only temporary. I feel much more settled + content in my role as a mom.
Tell us about a typical day for your family:
Julien is usually first to wake up. Robben is close behind him. Both boys pile into bed with us + we have a solid snuggle session. Dave takes the boys downstairs to make breakfast for J before he goes to school (usually some sort of toast with peanut butter situation). I get five minutes in bed to myself to meditate, connect, pray, reflect, sleep. Then Julien is out the door to go to school. He started Kindergarten this year. Robben naps + Dave + I try to get a workout in. He likes to do Beach Boot Camp in Kennebunkport + I am a Tracy Anderson devotee. We usually end up having breakfast together (smoothies, some sort of scramble or Dave's ridiculously good breakfast tacos). We are both working for Leader from home so while Julien is at school we set aside this time to do Leader work while simultaneously doing house chores (laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.). Dave + I both love music so occasionally we take breaks together to play and/or record music. Julien gets home from school around 3. When he doesn't have an after school activity (like drum lessons or soccer practice) we usually let him watch a show (right now he is really into Angry Birds) + then try to get outside while it's still light out. One of our favorite things to do is go for walks on the beach together as a family. Then, we make + eat dinner. After that, it's tubby time for both boys (separately at this point), books for Julien, + then bedtime. Dave + I sometimes do more work at this point, or watch a show together + relax + unwind before bed between 9-10. We are usually pretty wiped by this point.
What are your favorite things about Maine?
The ocean, the people, the food, the shopping, Sugarloaf, + Family Camp at Birch Rock Camp.
What would a perfect day in Portland with your family look like?
A lot of eating + shopping! First stop would be Tandem Coffee Roasters for a coffee for Dave. Julien would get a pastry. If it was Saturday, we would head to the farmer's market + get supplies for a picnic to take to Deering Oaks park where Julien could play on the playground. Then, I would talk my hubby into taking the boys so I could stop into my favorite boutiques. Dave would most likely take the kiddos to Maine Surfer's Union. And then we would stop at our friends' shop, Maine + Loire, to pick up a bottle of wine to take to my favorite restaurant in Portland, Schulte + Herr.
What are the top three things you would tell someone who has never been to Maine that they must do while here?
I've only been here for two + a half years so I still feel like I have so much learning + exploring to do myself! Go for a walk on Parson's Beach in Kennebunk, enjoy a meal at Schulte + Herr in Portland, + go shopping at Little + Judith in Portland! Cover all of your bases: outdoors, food, + shopping.
What are you most excited about right now?
I am usually excited about multiple things at once. Right now, I'm excited about the fact that I quit sugar shortly after Robben was born because he had thrush, + I feel amazing. I have ideas to start a sugar free treats business. Additionally, I am really excited about the launch of Leader Bag Co's new product coming at the beginning of March. Most of all though, I'm excited about life in general. It's pretty freakin' great.
If you kids could have one things from Little, what would it be?
Only one thing?! That's tough, but I'll try. Julien is a huge book worm so I think he would choose a book. He really loves all of the books published by Wide Eyed Press. He gets lost in them for hours. Robben received the Maileg Hedgehog for Christmas, so I think he would probably choose the Maileg Little Rhino in blue to add to his collection.
A big thanks to Meghan for answering our questions. If you haven't already, make sure to check out her beautiful, modern, + functional diaper bags.