Mjölk & HOI BO: A Perspective on Travel

October 12th, 2011

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During our most recent trip, a lot of you noticed the new bag I was wearing. We were both really happy that people noticed, the bag is actually a prototype travel bag that was a collaboration between maker Sarra Tang (HOI BO), and Mjölk. We took it with us for a crash test in Japan, catching different trains every day, spending a new day in a different city, and only using one day trip bag everywhere we went.

The collaboration started after Juli purchased a HOI BO bag for herself, and we posted it on our blog. Sarra saw it and came over to the shop and bought one of our Eve bracelets by Claesson Koivisto Rune. Later they got together over dinner with a mutual friend and after finding a lot of similarities in sensibility a collaboration started to make a lot of sense. After visits to the studio, and bites at the Drake the essence of the bag started to take shape. For all of us the resulting bag had to reflect the shared belief of a perfect balance between form and function.

For Sarra the real challenge was to design a toiletry case and bag that could be used for a man and woman. Not create a genderless bag, but a bag that complimented each gender in a different way.

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All bags and leather work are exclusively made at the HOI BO studio in the Historic Distillery District

Fabric : Waxed canvas, 100% Cotton.  Made in the US since 1847
The fiber is both water and soil repellent

Leather : Naked bark tanned leather.  Tanned in the US since 1881

Hardware : Solid Brass

Also features a black leather cover for cellphone pouch.

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To compliment the bag a pair of two leather toiletry case were made and designed by Sarra. There is no machine work used on the leather case, they are entirely sewn and fabricated by hand using natural tanned leather. The brass details are all designed and cast by HOI BO.

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We felt it was really important to share with you Sarra Tang’s studio space to get a feel of where and how these pieces are all made. The space is located in the Distillery and open to the public, you can also buy her work in the studio.

One of the first things I noticed in the store, besides the beautiful partially finished beeswax bags hanging in the ceiling, was the custom made plywood clothes hangers with a layer of natural leather stamped with “HOI BO”, they even had a sand cast brass hanger. That level of thoughtfulness in her space was something I instantly admired and connected with.

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Partially finished beeswaxed bags hang from the ceiling, interestingly enough they look like beehives hanging from the white painted ceiling.

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Natural blocks of beeswax.

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With a team of three makers, all of HOI BO’s work is hand crafted in-house with deep consideration for both quality and innovation of process. Their satchels are created in production runs of 4-6 pieces allowing them to focus intimately on every detail.

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A collection of leather accessories with the ubiquitous tomato pin cushion.

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A brief shot of the work desk.

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Coming full circle back to the bag, we’re going to be having a launch party on October 21st, where you will be able to purchase the bag. We will only have a limited amount available since the production runs are small in order to keep a high standard of quality.


The bag can be worn three different ways, as a backpack, shoulder bag, and messenger bag. You can also remove all of the straps to create a beautiful brief case. Above you can see the bag in a couple different uses.

We hope to see you at the event!

Filed under: General,Mjölk | 17 comments

17 Responses to 'Mjölk & HOI BO: A Perspective on Travel'

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  1. How much will they be? This would be great for commuting back and forth from work with a laptop everyday.


    12 Oct 11 at 3:23 pm

  2. Are the tolietry bags going to be sold seperate….or are they already sold seperately?


    12 Oct 11 at 7:30 pm

  3. Wow, what a great collaboration. Such gorgeous and functional design! I love the straps, the adjustable studs are so unique to see on a bag.


    12 Oct 11 at 8:12 pm

  4. This is absolutely breathtaking. And funny too because I’ve been considering purchasing a HOI BO bag before school started. Good thing I waited it out, eh? But oh boy, is their shop wonderful! I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but there’s a great video on Sarra’s process on the Toronto Standard: http://www.torontostandard.com/video/made-in-toronto-hoi-bo. That’s actually where I discovered her work.

    Since I already have a perfectly sufficient Fjällräven Kanken rucksack for school, I think this would be better as a Christmas gift to my sister whose heavy shoulder bag is starting to bother her shoulder.

    Like Michelle up top, I’m also wondering about the price. Though as a college student, I’m a bit afraid to find out…


    12 Oct 11 at 8:57 pm

  5. WHOA this looks so excellent! Good luck with the launch but I’m sure you’re going to have plenty of folks wanting this awesome bag.


    13 Oct 11 at 1:31 am

  6. This is amazing! I didn’t know you two were doing a collaboration! (Two of my favorite things!!) I can’t wait to see the new bags in person! xo

    Melinda Josie

    13 Oct 11 at 1:59 pm

  7. wow, I love the this new collection. I love your stuff. I need this travel bag as it matches the bag I bought last year and use as a purse. This is perfect for work – my lunch and other “things” LOVE you Sarah!

    Gail Fenton

    13 Oct 11 at 2:20 pm

  8. PS will I be able to purchase a bag at the launch? Not likely, but just checking…

    Gail Fenton

    13 Oct 11 at 2:22 pm

  9. I’ll be at the launch party and am very excited about the new travel bag! It’s really a beauty!

    Gail Fenton

    13 Oct 11 at 3:48 pm

  10. I am so curious about how your house is getting along. Could we get an update?


    13 Oct 11 at 4:36 pm

  11. This is the perfect bag for me. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I’ve had this obsession with designing the perfect bag and constructing it myself. Curiously, my vision is/was very close to this particular piece and since I have no experience constructing a bag of my own I now look forward to adding this to my collection. As usual, Mjolk is right on point. Thanks

    Bodah Christiansen

    13 Oct 11 at 5:07 pm

  12. awesome love the natural look of surfaces…..bon chance


    14 Oct 11 at 7:03 am

  13. Simone: Sadly the house is stuck in permits and city red tape. Thus no updates! Thanks for your interest though! We’re dying to get the ball rolling…


    14 Oct 11 at 4:52 pm

  14. I love this bag, it’s perfect and it matches the purse you made me last year..which by the way has seen some real hard travel. Good luck on the launch, wish we could be there, but we are stuck here in Houston. So how does one purchase this wonderful travel piece? Bobbye and Robert

    Robert and Bobbye Bennett

    15 Oct 11 at 3:58 pm

  15. How exciting! I have been dying for one of Sarra’s little leather bags since I first saw them a few months ago, and now this! A match made in heaven. :)


    16 Oct 11 at 11:38 pm

  16. Hi Juli; I’m sorry to hear that. Good luck. I hope your rental home is bearable in the meantime?


    17 Oct 11 at 8:23 am

  17. Simone, it’s bearable, but noisy and we’re getting anxious to not be in a temporary place. That said, things could be worse!

    Bobbye and Robert: The bag is available via our store http://www.mjolk.ca. Have a look at the details there and email us if you are interested. It’s available for preorder.

    John & Juli

    19 Oct 11 at 1:11 pm

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