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Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Q&A with Petunia Pickle Bottom

Ali

Posted by Ali | View all posts by Ali
4 Comments » | Published in Art and Artists, Designer Interviews, General  |  4 Comments

Petunia Pickle Bottom Founders with KidsThis month Fit Pregnancy listed the Petunia Pickle Bottom Scout diaper bag in their “2009 Buyers Guide.” Yeehaw PPB! What better timing than now to get to know the creators of the heavily sought after bags. Meet the dynamic trio who started it all: DeNai (founder), her husband Braden, and close friend Korie. Their PPB bags are all over the place and coveted by celebrities, moms, dads and Ali.

This q&a has a lot to it so put the little tyke down for a nap, grab a drink of choice and enjoy the interview.

Right off the bat we have to explore the Petunia Pickle Bottom name. Where did it come from?

Denai with Dad and HarmonicaWe can thank my dad for coming up with the silly, sentimental name. He’s a Biologist, but I half joke that he should have been a jingle-writer. When I was little he played the harmonica and made up little sing songs, one of which the phrase Petunia Pickle Bottom was born. There’s always a reaction of “Petunia huh?” but that’s why it works. People remember it. The best of course is when we get junk mail at the office addressed to Mrs. Petunia P. Bottom.

Speaking of names, the product names for many of your PPB bags certainly point to travel and the world. You don’t see many products with names like “Sightseeing in Sumatra” or “Moon Over Macau” lining store shelves. Tell me a bit more about the inspirations for these bags.

The bag naming is inspired by personal travel, favorite spots, or something I like to call “faux traveling.” Faux traveling is hopping on Google to check out far off places, research hidden gems to discover the perfect name that strikes the mood of a certain fabric I’ve created. There are 3 of us who do the naming in the office and you would be surprised just how much time and energy we dedicate to it—it’s often a scene of great debate.

Petunia Pickle Bottom Touring ToteOverall I’d say my silhouettes are inspired from various aspects of life. I spend a lot of time researching archival photos—I especially love it when I happen upon an antique store with a big bowl full of black and white photos. This picture into the past is a real treat and I find it very inspiring. Travel is also a common place I find inspiration—some of our best designs are fashioned from seeing the world with fresh eyes. The bag design could also be as literal as a vintage piece of luggage we’ve found or the function of the bag itself can help form the shape of the piece. The Cosmopolitan Carryall is definitely reminiscent of a vintage doctor’s bag. When the first sketch was complete it sort of reminded me of Doc’s bag on “Little House on the Prairie” (am I dating myself here)? It’s obviously made its own metamorphosis since those early stages but I think it lives up to what I call the vintage modern approach. A lot of our bags have also been designed to suit a specific part of “life with baby” in a fashionable way. Sometimes we will work backwards with a laundry list of “what” we would like the bag to achieve then move to the type of silhouette that might marry with that function.

I am always curious about work spaces. What is your office like?

Petunia Pickle Bottom OfficeAs for our office and work culture, we’re pretty lucky. We have such a great team of people and feel like one big family. We occupy a space of a reclaimed 1900′s brick building that is perched on a bluff overlooking the ocean so it’s not unusual for someone to rally us all out to check out a sunset at the end of the day. There is a lot of exposed brick and oversized windows that creates an open and creative vibe.

I am not a mom (yet) and I know the Scout bags are essentially intended to be dad diaper bags, but I use mine as a camera carry-all. I have received so many compliments on it…kudos to making such awesome dad diaper/photo bags. Ok, enough gushing. If there was a lack of chic mommy bags, there is even more of a void out there for chic daddy bags. How did the Scout line come to fruition?

Petunia Pickle Bottom Scout Diaper BagWith our Scout collection, I was really interested in experimenting with new textiles and finding new uses for industrial fabrics. I had been asked to design a bag for dads years ago, in fact, well before any other dad-minded diaper bag companies were on the map, but I was stymied by the fabric options. The dad’s in my life would not connect with a flannel or camo print bag and it’s not in my nature to go basic black. So this new interest in industrial fabrics led to the discovery of an industrial-grade felt and it was in that very moment I imagined the Scout Journey Pack. Sometimes the textile can dictate the design.

Tell us about the dynamics between your trio…how do each of you complement one another.

Petunia Pickle Bottom FoundersIt’s the perfect trio actually. We all have different talents that we bring to the table with a common thread of creativity. There are no egos in the room which helps us survive. Ultimately, we are friends first, business partners second. We make it a practice to spend time with each other outside of the office on a weekly basis, that’s one of the keys to our business relationship—we truly are the best of friends. When we don’t agree, we agree to disagree.

Some people might think it a nightmare to work with your husband, but I enjoy seeing him in the office and take pride in what we’ve built together. Of course it’s not all rosey all the time, there are hard days, and it can sometimes be a challenge to “turn off” when we get home. Our kids help with that, but it does take work to switch out of that mode. Our other business partner, Korie, has been my best friend since high school and we work really well together. She’s one of those people who is really good at “choosing battles” which helps when you are an opinionated bunch! You always hear, don’t go into business with your friends/family but for some reason it works for us–thankfully.

I have been uber impressed with the details that go into all of the PPB bags. From the branding, to the fabric choices, to the accessories with the diaper bags…all the way down to the clasps. What components to any particular bag were easy to decide on and what details did you dwell over?

I joke that my business partner Korie’s middle name should be “dwell.” As CMO, she and her team scrutinize every detail of the branding and how it can or should be present on our products. In general, we are a group that loves to get caught up in the details from the fabric designs, a specific textile, or a branded zipper pull—to us it just matters. We pretty much dwell over everything and that’s what makes it a Petunia product. I never take the easy route and get “eyes” from our COO because I won’t compromise a strap or zipper color for economies of scale.

Finally, what is next for PPB?

We always have a fun mix of projects in the design shop, but right now we are focusing on a brand extension. A new product that will launch in the Fall that will bring a fashionable approach to an unfashionable product. Taking a nod from Steve Jobs at Apple, I can’t give away too many details because our CMO is an advocate of the “hard launch.” It’s a toughie for me because when I’m near the completion of a new creative project I want to talk about it! So in a nutshell, stay tuned for Fall.

Thanks DeNai, Braden, Korie and all of the crew at Petunia Pickle Bottom!

View all of the Petunia Pickle Bottom pieces at Design Public

About Ali

I enjoy wood paneled station wagons, German food and senior citizens (I am 80 years old at heart). Nearly every weekend I am taking photos at other people's weddings and I have a blog of my own (but I don't update it often enough). I love to paint, sew and knit. Check out my DP Staff profile on Hatch.

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Responses

  1. adrian says:

    April 1st, 2009 at 4:51 am (#)

    lovely interview piece. very insightful. we should have these bags over here in malaysia! such a shame we don’t

  2. melissa says:

    April 1st, 2009 at 1:32 pm (#)

    i have a PBB–the bigger boxy backpack and have pretty much forced everyone i know to also buy one. needless to say they love me for it!

    it’s great looking and can fit a ton. the backpack straps are lifesavers and the pull out changer is one of the best things ever.

    PBB peeps if u read this as a new mommy i do have some suggestions (but no one should take these as reasons not to buy)
    1 – i wish these bags weren’t dry clean only–when your 3 month old pees ALL over the bag, or the bottle leaks everywhere a mom might need to wash more then just the changer part:)

    2- the velcro closer is loud. it is super strong but ive actually woken up my daughter–and you know what they say about waking up a sleeping baby…

    3- the zippers that lock in the changer. great for unzipping not so much for zipping back up when you are in the public bathroom and holding baby in one hand. its very hard to get those zippers up one handed.

    there are soo many good things about this bag–if you could fix the above id give you 11 out of 10 stars!!

  3. Hatch: The Design Public ® Blog » Blog Archive » Home Tour with DeNai of Petunia Pickle Bottom says:

    August 18th, 2009 at 1:48 am (#)

    [...] educated and at peace. Beautiful job, guys! If you want to learn more about PPB, check out our designer interview. [...]

  4. Porfirio Hinckle says:

    December 31st, 2010 at 12:22 pm (#)

    Am I able to read your entries on my kindle in anyway?

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