Bags have always been Linda Wong’s accessory of choice. “I’m not that much of a shoe person,” she confesses. “But I’ve always been really selective about bags. I kept looking for a classic, well-designed bag that was functional enough to use every day—I just didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on it.” This desire, combined with Linda’s background in business and her experience managing the accessories division of a global Italian sportswear company, was enough of a reason to start a collection of her own,
In her previous role, Linda had absorbed the ins and outs of the creative process, from concept sketches to prototypes, and was enormously affected by the amount of waste produced at every level. “That’s how the idea for Canopy Verde came about,” she explains. “My guiding principle, from the beginning, has been about creating bags that are minimalist, stylish, practical, and most importantly, eco-friendly.”
After launching on Etsy in 2013, Linda continued to fine-tune her vision for high-end green style at affordable prices, developing a colorful range of versatile carryalls—all thoughtfully crafted from recycled or certified eco-friendly materials. “I don’t make anything flashy, trendy, or disposable,” she says. “I think my Etsy customers are very attuned to that. When they buy one of my bags, they know they can keep using it season after season.”
Read on to find out how Scandinavian furniture influences Linda’s designs and how she developed her best-selling backpack, then
What inspired your commitment to sustainable design?
I loved working at my old job, but I couldn’t believe how much stuff we made every season, and how much waste went into the process. I decided that if I could create
What eco-friendly materials do you use to create Canopy Verde bags?
I decided on organic cotton certified by the
You have a production partner based in Hong Kong. What’s that relationship like?
My partner is actually a former colleague who left our old company at the same I did to open her own factory. We’re friends, and we’ve known each other for ten years. Now, we’re these two
How has Canopy Verde evolved over time?
Canopy Verde started out very narrow in the beginning, with just a line of handbags. In the last few years, I’ve added a lot more in terms of smaller bags, as well as
As a non-backpack person, how did you approach the request?
I had to design one that I would want to carry. I didn’t want it to look too sporty—I wanted a backpack that was more of a handbag. But what I didn’t realize until later is that it’s actually a unisex design! Men want to buy it for themselves rather than as a gift, which got me thinking about creating other unisex styles. I recently introduced
Where do you look for design inspiration?
I have a thing for Scandinavian chairs, and I especially love the clean lines and mixed textures of Danish and Finnish furniture. I’ve even taken some chairs and tried to reimagine them as bags. The
Mother’s Day is right around the corner. Which of your bags would make great gifts this year?
I’m a mom, and one thing I appreciate is a bag that’s versatile. I sell a
Speaking of being on the go, your listings showcase some great photographs of women modeling your bags in Brooklyn, where you live and work.
We’ve done a bunch of photo shoots in different Brooklyn neighborhoods to capture the feel of the bags. Sometimes I’m the model—this is a small business, after all!—but I love working with local, eco-friendly bloggers as well, like Sustainably Chic, who is featured in quite a few of
What do you love most about what you do?
Most of all, I like being my own boss, and the feeling of autonomy that comes with deciding what bags to make in what colors, and how to market things. I used to work for big companies where processes were already set in place. But now, I can set my own schedule, do what I need to do, and just go with it. Etsy customers really appreciate what we sellers do, and it’s a great feeling. In one review, a customer included a picture of our backpack in front of the Eiffel Tower. She used it to travel around Paris, which was wonderful.
So, what’s next for Canopy Verde?
I’ll be adding
Photographs courtesy of Canopy Verde unless otherwise noted.
Sharon Steel is a writer and editor living in New York City. Her heroes are Jane Austen, Carson McCullers, Lindsay Weir, Shirley Jackson, Lillian Ross, and the renegade crew of the spaceship Serenity. Read more of her work at sharoncsteel.com.