I'll never forget the moment that WANDRD was born. Spencer and I were sitting in our parents' kitchen and complaining about the lack of options for a quality camera bag. He was planning a trip to Paris to shoot pictures at Fashion Week, and I had just booked a small camper van in New Zealand for 10 days. At that point we had done months of research (and purchased many bags), and we realized we had two options — either a camera bag that functioned OK and looked terrible, or a bag that looked OK and functioned terribly.
He finally said, “Why don’t we just make our own?” and you know, it just felt right. So with all the gusto and ignorance of a couple twenty-something-year-olds, we set off on a mission to create the world's best travel camera bag.
We both agreed that we didn’t just want to make and sell bags; we wanted to inspire others to see more of the world. We grew up traveling all over the world and both consider it to be the best education we, or anyone else, could ever receive, and we wanted to influence and enable others to do the same — to explore, and to live life in the moment. And that’s why we decided to name our company after the people our gear is designed for – the wandered. Now that we had a name, we did the first thing every person starting a business in the 21st Century does; We jumped online to buy wandered.com and quickly found it was available, but for $20,000. Since our combined net worth was, well... less than that, we decided it probably wasn’t a good idea to purchase it. So we dropped a couple of vowels, got wandrd.com for $9.99, and felt super official.
After months and months of back and forth on design, throwing away that nearly finished design and starting from scratch, vetting manufacturers, making tons of mistakes, a few good decisions, and testing the shit out of our bag, we were finally ready to launch. On October 6, 2015, we invited our family and friends over, served waffles, and launched our very first bag, The PRVKE Pack, on Kickstarter.
We immediately became billionaires and built a massive office and bought new cars… just kidding, we bought planes... double just kidding, we didn't pay ourselves a dime for the first two years of work we did on WANDRD.
While we definitely considered our first launch a success, we quickly realized it was going to take everything we had to continue to grow this business and make our dreams a reality. In fact, I remember sitting down just after the Kickstarter campaign had finished and thinking “we should give ourselves our first little bonus". We had raised just over $110,000 and again, hadn’t taken any type of pay at this point. We crunched the numbers and realized that after ordering enough inventory to last the next few months, we owed $10,000 above what we had made on Kickstarter. Like I said, gusto and ignorance.
So we continued to work out of our pop’s basement, bootstrapping and operating on little sleep and lots of Red Bulls to get this thing off the ground.
About a year after the first Kickstarter, Austin (our older brother) decided he couldn’t let us have all the “fun” and became a partner in the business. As a spreadsheets genius and a true left-brained individual, he brought the structure we needed – and not a moment too soon. Right after Austin joined the team, we raised over $400,000 with our second Kickstarter campaign and started a growth spurt that has yet to slow down.
It’s crazy to think this little idea we had in mom and dad’s kitchen has reached so many people — WANDRD is now a tight-knit team of 10 people and we’ve delivered bags to explorers, creators, and individuals in over 100 countries.
We still firmly believe that we’re not a product company. We’re a company that exists to inspire people to get out and live passionate lives. And all of this – everything we’ve done and continue to reach for – wouldn’t be possible without you. We’re excited for the road ahead and hope that our paths cross with yours somewhere out there.
May you constantly wander,
Ryan, Spencer, and Austin Cope