Phuong Mai is on a Mission to Create the Perfect Bag You Can Count On
Recently, we had the chance to virtually meet Phuong Mai, the inspiring female founder behind our favorite luxury bag brand where form meets function.
“P.Mai came out of a personal, physical, and metaphorical pain point of carrying a very heavy shoulder bag. My doctor basically told me I should switch to a backpack. That was my epiphany – that women need to sacrifice our own health for the sake of carrying our things and trying to look good [at the same time],” Phuong tells us.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, one-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year, many of them on account of carrying an unsupported work bag. If back and shoulder pain from carrying flimsy and unreliable bags is such a big issue in the United States, why don’t more working women carry a backpack? Well, the answer is not as complicated as you might think.
When P.Mai was just starting out, around 2016, there were a plethora of options for men’s backpacks. Phuong expresses: “on the women’s side, however, it really fell within the spectrum of either they were too sporty or casual for work, or if they were fashion forward, they didn’t have the functionality that we needed for work.” For some reason, it feels as though luxury designers forget that women need both practicality and design, especially for a work bag. The restricted options available to women often aren’t big enough to fit a laptop or they don’t have a security zipper, the shoulder straps are uncomfortable, and the list of details missing just keeps going on.
As working women, we want to feel professional and stylish at the same time. Yes, we are girl bosses! Yes, we can be businesswomen and entrepreneurs! Yes, we can be creative and conquer in the workplace! So, where is that work bag to make us feel like the #girlbosses we truly are? With P.Mai, Phuong is on a mission to create a sophisticated and luxury backpack that still functions well and services the job that a work bag should.
“We want to combine style and utility but another part of the story is being completely authentic to our brand. I want to be a brand that people can trust and see the quality and thoughtfulness within the design.”
P.Mai is all about quality and elevated sophistication brought about with feminine details and an attentive purpose. By combining luxury with utility, Phuong and P.Mai hope to inspire women to live up to their full potential. Instead of using the typical fashion model in their campaigns, P.Mai uses role models called “P.Mai Pioneers” who strive to make an impact in their communities. These women take risks and inspire others through their encouraging leadership. They come from all different types of backgrounds and uplift other women by sharing stories, advice, and their expansive knowledge.
Inspired by these fascinating “P.Mai Pioneers” and everyday encounters such as nature, culture, and architecture, Phuong expresses travel as one of her biggest influences as well. “While I’m from California, I’ve lived in many different places such as Germany, Amsterdam, and France. Travel is a big component of our brand. We really focus on making product for life on the go – whether that means going from your house to the office or going on a business trip to London.”
The United States consumer is fairly new to the idea of wearing a backpack to work as it can be seen as “childish” or “naïve.” However, in many Asian countries where Phuong also gets her inspiration from, a backpack is essential for work – especially if you live in a big city that relies on public transport. Phuong realized this in her travels and decided to embark on the opportunity to educate working women in the United States and create a beautiful functional backpack.
Even though there’s been a pause in travel due to Covid-19, Phuong is in no way looking to pause the success of P.Mai. “With Covid, that has affected us a bit because a lot of our consumers aren’t able to travel nor do they have to commute anymore so we’ve had to adapt,” she says. Always looking to innovate, Phuong and the P.Mai team researched how to help consumers during a time of need and came up with the already sold out Violet Clean Kit – a bag that uses ultraviolet light to protect and disinfect your personal items. Nonetheless, her most vital product remains the effortlessly luxurious backpack.
So going back to our first question – why don’t more working women in the United States wear a backpack? The answer is simple.
There aren’t many refined options for her to feel powerful yet stylish at the same time – until now. P.Mai is the solution for a sophisticated and easy work bag that combines elegance with practicality.