Local Cape-based innovators, Mike Schlebach and Jasper Eales of Sealand Gear, have developed a new range of gear, Sealand Eco Collection, which they are funding through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform for the creative industry

Local Cape-based innovators, Mike Schlebach and Jasper Eales of Sealand Gear, have developed a new range of bags, Sealand Eco Collection, which they have launched on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform for the creative industry. Sealand Gear produces a range of some of the strongest, most durable and eye-catching bags using recycled materials. Their new products, using a fabric made from upcycled cotton and recycled PET, include the Hero bag, an urban and outdoor multi-tool of adventure utility bag (pictured in the main image). This bag has a dual use either as a backpack, or as a duffel bag. It has various storage spaces including a pouch for valuable and an outside sleeve for a laptop. We asked Sealand Gear co-founder and designer, Jasper Eales, about their new collection, which includes the Hero bag.

Tell us about the Hero?

The Hero bag has been on our radar for sometime. So many people search for the ultimate travel bag, and it was time for Sealand to create its version. Multi-functionality, durability, usability and refined design were all considered in the creative process of the Hero bag. I cant wait to see how consumers engage with this bag when it comes to market later this year.

This is high-end gear. Give us an idea of your target market?

We prefer to see it as quality gear rather than high-end gear, as we create product that is made to last. Our product isn’t necessarily the cheapest, but it’s rather the right product, meaning we focus on quality and being environmentally responsible. The audience we speak to is unisex, however slightly more weighted to the male, between the ages of 25 – 65 years of age. We have a wide offering of products, different kinds of bags, and pouches which allows us to speak to a wide audience.

The durability of Sealand Gear’s product is legendary. Tell us a bit about the Recover® material?

I’m really pleased that you asked this question, as longevity, durability and sustainability are core factors of what we stand for in our environmentally responsible business journey. Recover® is an incredible material made from a blend of recycled plastic bottles and upcycled cotton waste, which we import from Recovertex. The textile waste is cut into small pieces and opened back into fibres without damaging fibre length. This cotton fibre is then combined with the recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fibre to help strengthen yarns. It’s made in a facility that uses zero water, produces zero carbon emissions, requires no chemical dyes, and is produced by more than 50% green energy. The material is super strong and is combined with our durable Ripstop base and upcycled advertising banner inner lining. We make the bags in Cape Town-based factory.

Sealand Gear bravely expanded into Europe quite recently. How have you found the response to the brand and to the products?

This has been a major focus of ours for the past 18 months, and is beginning to take shape. Taking an unknown brand to a foreign place is no easy task, however over time we have made some fantastic contacts over there, who are truly aiding the recognition we deserve. We are now stoking Sealand Gear in five countries namely South Africa, Britain, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, and soon to be represented in a few more. Our online store is seeing growth all the time as we ship products all over the world from Cape Town. Shipping is a big challenge for us, and expensive as South Africa is geographically at the bottom of the planet.

This may sound like a stupid question but why do you need a Kickstarter campaign?

Kickstarter is an incredible platform to generate pre-sales on a new product release. At the same time its an awesome marketing opportunity to share a new product or brand with a massive community of followers (27 million in total). A successfully run project on Kickstarter can bring many new followers and whole sale accounts to a brand, as well as indicate honest feedback from a large group of people whether or not you have a good product with potential. For us, it’s a combination of all the above.

  • This is an edited version of Brett Shearer’s story which first appeared here.
  • If you buy a bag via Kickstarter you will receive a Hero bag at a 40% discount.
  • Picture credits: Supplied