wearing a backpack
necklace: Mejuri, leotard: American Apparel (similar here by Madewell), skirt: Saint + Sophia, booties: Dolce Vita, backpack: Parker Clay

Lately, I’ve been wearing a backpack instead of carrying a purse. It all started pre-pandemic. I was traveling once a month and my carry-on bag would mar the entirety of my right shoulder. Literally, the weight of my laptop, water bottle, magazine, and book would break capillaries on my shoulder. Without fail, I looked like I had been in a crash after every single flight. I decided I needed to replace my go-to, carry-on bag with an utterly stylish backpack that would evenly distribute the weight of my flight necessities. My search for a magical carry-on backpack went on for a year without a true love match. Then, Parker Clay reached out to me to review their line.

The Parker Clay Backpack

Parker Clay is a line of leather goods ethically made in Ethiopia. The certified B corp was started by couple Brittney and Ian Bentley who named their company after their two daughters adopted from, you guessed it, Ethiopia. Parker Clay focuses on empowering Ethiopian women. In the capital of Addis Ababa alone, 26.4% of women are unemployed, 150,000 women are in prostitution, and 4.6 million children are orphaned. As of 2019, out of Parker Clay’s 130+ employees in their factory in Ethiopia, 96 of them are women and 32 of these women have been hired out of prostitution through their partnership with Ellilta Women at Risk. By the end of 2020, their goal is to hire over 100 more women with the majority coming from the Ellita Women at Risk program.

I was beyond eager to review their products. I requested the Mari Backpack, a large utterly stylish leather backpack that could hold everything I needed for a flight. It has an outside pocket, a laptop pocket, and then more pockets, and more pockets. It is slightly heavier than I wanted for my dream carry-on, but I don’t care. It is gorgeous, ethically made, and looks incredible. The leather is a little stiff at first, but wear and tear will soften it. The gorgeous tan color is also reactive to scratches, so either anticipate an evolving rustic look, or be really on top of treating it with a silicon leather protectant spray every season. I chose to do the latter. I sprayed it down as soon as I got it and will spray it with the protectant a few times a year.

Of course, I have yet to realize my dream of using this pack as a carry-on. The bag arrived at my doorstep on March 20, one day after California put into effect the stay-at-home orders. All my travel plans for this year are non-essential, so they have been shelved until 2021. I still dream of using this backpack for travel, but I have found other uses. The pandemic has brought out the biker in me. I have been using this backpack to go to the grocery store and run other errands. When I head to Balboa Park for my now famous social distance hangouts, I throw my jacket, bottle of wine, and other goodies in it and off I go!

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Benefits of Wearing A Backpack

Wearing a backpack versus carrying a purse has some massive benefits. My right shoulder is higher and tighter than my left shoulder from years of purse carrying. Wearing a backpack will prevent further asymmetry. I also adore being handsfree! The liberation has been exhilarating. Sure, a crossbody bag lets you be handsfree, but have you ridden a bike with one? It’s annoying. It moves around as you pump the pedals, your thigh disrupting the bag at every rise. Also, you can carry so much more in a backpack than in a crossbody bag. And you can carry heavier things since you have both shoulders on the job, instead of one. Who needs a reusable bag for some medium to light shopping when you have a backpack? Oh, the freedoms of a backpack are endless.

Wearing A Backpack To Work

I’m officially a backpack convert. I am currently on the search for my perfect stylish work backpack. Although I adore the Parker Clay Mari backpack for my more casual personal style, it is too rustic and bohemian for my work style. I need something a little more polished. I have just ordered the beigey blush options featured in the shop this post above to see if any of them will complement my career look. (Why beigey blush? See my post on the most versatile purse color.)  I will update this post with my findings. Stay tuned!

Update! I am dying over my new work backpack and the compliments are endless. I went with Calpak’s Kaya Faux Leather Laptop Backpack in mauve. It is lightweight, chic and holds everything I need. I cannot rave enough about this. Goodbye heavy shoulder bags!

Photos by Dayley Photography 

wearing a backpack

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My blog posts are my honest and personal opinion. Sometimes my content includes products sent from brands or PR firms. In this case, Mejuri, Saint + Sophia, and Parker Clay gifted me items. If I am sent something that is unimpressive or boring I don’t write about it.