Farther Bag Co.: Bags With Vision
Recently, we were introduced to Will Moss of Farther Bag Co. in Memphis, TN, who we have admired from a distance for a long while. Will sat down with us to chat about how he loves collaborating with other brands, the impact of his Chief Visionary Officer and how he balances a small business on the side.
The first time I came across Farther Bag Company I was enamored by its brand identity. Usually, that's enough to get me interested and digging deeper into a company. Looking closer, I was immediately blown away by unique spins on seemingly normal bike and hand bags. I could immediately tell that the brand came from the deep south somewhere, as it seems to have that 'slow is ok' vibe written all over it. However, I didn't chase the connection to the founder right away.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I find myself chatting with Nick from Send It Safely who suggested I speak with Farther's founder Will Moss—I instantly agreed. I never really know what to expect going into these interviews but I love that the universe guides me into them. Each maker has a unique story that is worth hearing and there are always oodles of inspiration and surprises along the way.
Farther's story is no exception. Let's go.
How did you get started making bags?
I've always had a passion for making and fixing things, anything DIY really. Whatever I can do to be creative and use my hands has always been something I've loved. I really got into bikes when I found an old Fuji road bike in my grandparents' basement. My cousin has done a lot of bike touring and he was the one who turned me on to the fact that you could strap bags to your bike and go disappear into the woods. Bike bags were just the alignment of a lot of passions that I thought might make for a fun project.
What is the Farther 'thing'?
Fun. We've been digging designing our own custom prints and colors, it's something I plan to do more of this year. It's a fun way to make something that maybe hasn't been done before or bring some art and creativity to the bags. Farther is really something I enjoy doing and try not to take too seriously. I enjoy the scale we're at now—we can get a little weird and goofy without having to worry about the bottom line or whether I can sell enough bags to pay rent. I love collaborating with other brands as much as possible, things like the Not Weed bags or the Humidity Ripstop bags I did with Southern Wonders a few years back (keep an eye out for an FBC x SW comeback) It's such a fun process getting to work with other people in the creative process. I would love to do more collaborations in the future.
Is Farther a full-time effort or a side hustle?
At this moment it is a side hustle. I would love someday to be a full-time bag man, whether it's with Farther or something else. At the moment I've got a pretty cool day job at a creative agency here in town. I'm pretty happy with the life balance keeping Farther as a side gig allows me at this moment.
Who is Steve Bags?
In the early days, when I was making bags for myself and occasionally friends, I was at a bar with some buddies telling them I was considering giving this project a name and trying to sell my stuff. Just as I was telling them I was thinking of calling it “Farther Bag Company”, This random guy walks up to me and says “Hey, you should drop the “mpany”. After I realized what he was saying to me, he introduced himself as my new Chief Visionary Officer. That man was Steve Bags and he's been a part of the Co. ever since. He's the big-picture guy and the face of the company. Our skill sets complement one another and Farther wouldn't be where it is today without him.
Memphis! I'm born and raised here and it is home. The bike scene is small but mighty, we've got a little bit of something for everyone and I've met a lot of great friends through it. If you're ever in town on a Thursday make sure to check out the Memphis Social Bicycle Club's Thursday night ride. There's lots of very flat riding on just about any terrain you'd like right from my front door. I'm just not sure how many southern summers I've got left in me…they can get pretty brutal with the humidity.
We love the Farther brand and logomark.
I love it too! It all comes from the brilliant mind of my bud Casey Robertson. I'm a big fan of all of his work so I basically just left it in his hands, and was so stoked on what he came back with. He and I have spent a lot of time joking about Memphis' most insane landmark, a giant pyramid which used to be an arena, but now is home to the world's largest Bass Pro Shop—that was a big influence on his branding. I wish I could take credit for this, but we've all got Casey to thank for “Bag Pro Shop”. I Still love my original branding as well, which came from an old friend in town, Curt Crocker.
What is the toughest part of being a bag maker?
For me, it's been finding the balance between having a full-time job, making as many bags as I'd like to make, and still having time to hang out and ride bikes. That and trying to do something to set yourself apart from other makers. It's a fun creative challenge.
Also, all the non-bag making that comes along with having a small business. Running a website, making sure I'm not spending too much more money than I'm making, and keeping up with all the inventory. Things I didn't consider when I started all this.
Who or what is blowing your mind these days?
Topo Designs has been a huge influence for me on this whole journey. Their origin story resonates with me as a small bag maker. They've got the most fashionable outdoor clothing/luggage out there and they do a lot of really cool collaborations with a lot of rad brands.
Outer Shell makes the best bike bags out there. Every time Steady Co. (read our Steady interview here) posts a new bag, the color combo he's chosen is somehow better than the last. I love seeing how many fabric companies are coming out with materials made from recycled plastics.
The community I've found online with tons of other bag makers has been so cool. Super helpful and supportive and totally non-competitive. It's been awesome to be a part of the local scene here in Memphis. Lots of creators are building really cool brands, shops, restaurants, etc.
What exactly is a trail purse, what do I put in it and who is Send It Safely?
A trail purse is the purse you take with you out on the trail. It holds all the bare necessities EXCEPT weed! If weed is a bare necessity for you though, you're in luck. We just came out with a companion trail purse which is designed to carry Just Weed. So now there is a trail purse for literally anything you can imagine. Total market coverage. One of the coolest things about doing all this internet bike stuff is the friends I've made in the process and Send It Safely is one of those folks. Nick is a Safety ambassador based in Albuquerque, NM offering the finest safety equipment money can buy. Hoping to expand the Farther x Safety line soon!
Superheroes or Rock N' Roll?!
Rock N' Roll! I've always got a playlist going while the sewing machine is running.
Any advice for aspiring or new bag makers out there?
When I was first thinking about trying to make my bags, I reached out to a larger bag company with the same question. Basically, they said it can be hard and takes a good bit of math (they were right). Go find a bag you like, tear it apart, and figure out how they put it together. Bike bags aren't totally unique from other luggage, so a lot of techniques and tricks can be learned from seeing how bags of all kinds are put together.
Also, find yourself a good Chief Visionary Officer.