Started in 2012 by brother and sister Marcos and Paz Mafia, MAFIA Bags began with an idea to upcycle used sails into backpacks. Their idea originated from the need for a durable backpack to carry their wetsuits while traveling to surfing locations around the world. And since day one, as they have perfected the design, MAFIA Bags has also fostered the tradition of community by bringing on friends and employing locally to scale the business. Even as the business has expanded from their hometown in Buenos Aires to a small rented garage in Outer Sunset and multiple locations around the world, MAFIA Bags has remained dedicated to maintaining its core values of sustainable design with minimal impact.
If you spend thirty minutes at their store in SoMa you will see this immediately. Your jaw will drop at the colorful variety of bags and totes hanging on the walls, which will make you doubt that these are made of upcycled materials. You will likely spend too much time exploring exhibits of past design collaborations with major brands like Airbnb, or you’ll marvel at the boxes of sails from around the world ready for assembly by any of their talented designers. It will be hard not to feel inspired.
For a small business based out of the bustling SoMa district in San Francisco, California, to continue their journey as a challenger brand may feel like a tall order. Yet, it is difficult to say that MAFIA has not lived up to the hype just yet.
Beginning with a successful Kickstarter campaign, MAFIA Bags has collaborated with many global brands. These include Patagonia, Sperry’s, Vans, the Stanford Design School and more local groups like SustainableSurf.org. On your next trip to Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Shibuya (Japan), San Francisco or London make sure to check out one of their retail locations where you can admire the innovative and stylish design. And if you don’t find yourself in any of these cities, you can check out each unique product line at one of their partner retail locations thanks to the past collaborations.
At the end of the day, amazing brands like MAFIA Bags give us hope that there is still opportunity for a small business to make an impact and grow through a sustainable business model. We thank the innovators at MAFIA Bags for leading the way.