Hamilton Perkins was determined to make a travel bag that would make a statement in fashion and in the community.
He founded Hamilton Perkins Collection almost a year ago, in an attempt to create a bag that did not yet exist on the market: one that used sustainable materials and empowered busy travelers. The inner lining of each Earth Bag is produced from recycled plastic bottles and repurposed vinyl from billboards. In addition to his dedication to preserving the environment, HPC has partnered with Thread International, a company that employs citizens of developing nations while simultaneously providing the opportunity for cleaner neighborhoods.
In 2016, the then 29-year-old entrepreneur began a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to start his business. The campaign far exceeded the initial $10,000 goal and the company has been on an upward trajectory since. With previous retail experience and advice from investors he met while working as a banker, Hamilton created a bag that tapped into the 21st century need for a product that was individualistic and environmentally sustainable. HPC is a certified B Corporation, a title that recognizes businesses committed to social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Since the company’s debut, HPC has been featured at Bloomingdale’s Trunk Show in New York and has set up a showroom downtown in Old Dominion’s Innovation Center.
Norfolk Emerging Leaders Executive Intern, Jamie Short, recently spoke with Mr. Perkins to get more insight into his inspiration for starting a social entrepreneurship business and his reasoning for setting up shop in Downtown Norfolk.
Jamie Short: What was your inspiration for starting Hamilton Perkins Collection, and what is your motivation to continue to grow the business?
Hamilton Perkins: I was inspired by looking for a certain kind of bag that I couldn’t find anywhere in stores. So, I decided to make it for friends and family. I saw a big opportunity to make a better bag and empower travelers.
Why did you choose recycling as an issue to target for your business? Why did you choose Haiti as the location for the factory?
I thought that using sustainable materials to make a retail product was long overdue because a future without that concept is less promising. I’m excited to be a part of bringing sustainable products to consumers, and I wanted to empower people in Haiti through job opportunities and dignified income.
What role do you believe young people play in changing their community?
I think young people can play the big role as consumers and business owners because action is what activates change in communities. Another youthful quality that brings about change is open mindedness. Taking action and keeping an open mind are what get jobs done.
Why did you choose Norfolk to open your showroom?
There’s a great energy and (sense of) innovation, and entrepreneurship is welcome here. Those qualities fit well with our mission and the ethos of our brand. There are lots of new developments and opportunities in this city.
Lastly, I’m a Norfolk native – so I’ve been in Virginia a long time. It was a no brainer.
Hamilton Perkins will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Generational Changers Summit, a one day leadership event for teens in Norfolk. This event will be held on Tuesday, July 25th, 2017 at Slover Library from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will engage students in interactive workshops as well as a social impact challenge. Summit participants will have the opportunity to meet Hamilton Perkins and learn about his experience with HPC and how to be change agents and entrepreneurs in their community. For more info on the event, here it is on Facebook.