5 Minutes with

5 Minutes with Sholeh Mirzai

by , July 2, 2013

In the second part of a two-part ‘Five Minutes With…’ series for The North Face, we get some thoughts and insights from Sholeh Mirzai, Product Manager for Daypacks & Travel…

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1 – What key insights drive your stuff (what have you realized that others haven’t)?

Sometimes it’s the most obvious things that get overlooked. I visited with a group of students and a lot of them complained that their books poked them through that back panel. It seems obvious that everyone would make back panels that you couldn’t feel the contents poke through but you’d be surprised. Everything should be designed so that it works so seamlessly you don’t even realize all the thought that went into it. The team is always trying to design and redesign our products so there are no more complaints (a never-ending job but a good end goal!).

2 – Who else is doing rad things in the world of carry? Could you elaborate on those things (functions/features, technology, philosophy, materials, etc.) and why you think they’re important?

QWSTION is doing some really awesome things with silhouettes and great craftsmanship. The same goes for Mission Workshop and GORUCK, making really functional bags that also look great with cool materials. Hard Graft and Property Of also do great at building beauty into function (or multifunction). And Etsy and kickstarter are swarming with great designs from people who just really want to make something new or different. I keep a running Google docs list to keep track of all the cool bag brands I stumble across, there’s just too many to keep track of.

3 – Are there any things other brands do that you think are crap? Common mistakes that drive you nuts?

Again, going back to not addressing even the most basic needs of a pack are always my biggest pet peeves. No back panels, thin shoulder straps, cheap zippers that break easily, weak construction. A backpack is going to get beat up and used a lot; it should be built for that end use.

4 – What’s next for you guys?

I really want to focus on letting the designers show off their creativity and explore new shapes, new technologies and new materials. We do well with comfort and load carry, now how can we build on that and make more compelling designs and a wider range of styles.

5 – What do you carry daily (and how)?

I’m a woman so I carry a lot of bags. I carry a soon to be released Tote as my purse and a new proto of a small but bomber backpack for my laptop and work stuff.

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