- Buyer's Guide
What Makes a Genius Pack?
At Carryology we dig functionality and brands that try and up the ante, and Genius Pack is a brand that’s definitely eager to oblige, solely focusing their geeky energies on extreme functionality and products that eliminate the hassles of travel. And they’re busy, real busy, currently flaunting 17 Genius-y features that are patent-pending, and they don’t look like slowing down. But what makes a genius besides a big brain, black-rimmed glasses and weird hair? We dropped founder and CEO, Alfred Chehebar, a line to find out…
What makes a product a Genius?
A product which is unexpectedly different and highly beneficial to the end user.
Are there any key insights that guide your stuff? What do you know that most others haven’t realized?
Everyone who travels knows there are areas of improvement to the entire experience. We dissected and focused into making the gear that will help eliminate the common nuisances present with the current products on the market, so what drove us to establish the brand and what drives us today is this huge opportunity to fill this gap.
What are your main channels for your creative inspiration?
For aesthetics and external appearance, I like to learn from luxury lifestyle brands who are modern but not too fashion-forward. For function, I learn most from frequent travelers, and advice from successful entrepreneurs who I had the privilege of interviewing on what bothers them during travel. They would throw at me a bunch of insights and ideas, and then it was my job to go ahead and execute.
Any unusual places or circumstances where you got an idea for a new innovation in carry? Do you get a lot of
ideas in the shower or the corner market foraging for organic dragon fruit?
I come up with ideas and innovative concepts mostly when I test out products and when I travel with my products. I also get a lot of ideas when I am in a mode of deeper concentration like when in the shower, using the bathroom, and when traveling on long flights – I really get to think deep and brainstorm with an unusual level of concentration.
Who do you look to in the bags world? Who does rad stuff (brands or designers)?
I try to keep my eyes and ears open to all industry movement, which is my responsibility, as I feel the need to be learned in my market area. To name a few of which I admire their design and branding: Tumi, Delsey, Travelpro, Prada and Incase.
Are there any trends or things folk do in carry that drive you nuts?
Not really. There are a lot of nutty ideas (products exclusively created for a very niche audience). Most of them don’t make it past the two-year mark.
What are some of the ingredients that help you make better designs? Is it about good managers or good
It all starts with relationships. Anyone starting off should invest the appropriate time in acquiring the right connections and relationships. Next is building an infrastructure which can also take some time to get all the dots connected. Both are continuous projects, which I am still building on myself. You’ll never meet anyone who is no longer looking to establish new relationships.
What materials do you most like to work with? Are there any new materials you’re experimenting with? Anything that will break the time-space continuum?
We look to use two-tone materials in a non-conventional way, to give a clean, modern aesthetic. We don’t want our products to give off a look of being highly technical from the exterior.
Do you like working as a team or going solo?
In the beginning, sticking within a low budget is crucial. However, as a company evolves it is equally crucial to instil the right team in place. There is very little growth potential for companies with a one-man show.
Do you have to go to the maker to make a good bag? Can carry design work remotely?
Design, yes it can be handled remotely. Development, no sir. You need to get on a plane and go sit side-by-side with the manufacturing team to execute the right product (especially when dealing with highly technical products).
How do you test your product? What do you look for when testing?
We first test our products for durability and quality by facilitating the following: Drop-testing the product on a jerk machine to ensure the handles won’t tear when carrying a heavy load. Material testing – A. To ensure there are no toxic chemicals and B. To ensure the fabric is abrasion resistant. Mileage testing – we put our products on a special treadmill that will wheel the bag for hundreds of miles to ensure the quality of the wheels. We later test our products for consumer practicality.
How many prototypes do you go through before release?
About 5, I guess.
What product features are you most proud of?
To name two, I’d say 1. Our Laundry Compression Technology, which allows travelers to compress laundry contents within our bags through an integrated air valve which expels the unwanted air. 2. Our interior organization compartments along with the permanent checklist, it really creates a packing system which transforms into a think-free experience.
Do you have any burning goals or desires for your career? Are there things you really want to achieve?
My goals for Genius Pack are 1. To continue building brand awareness and to become a more established brand name in the travel gear sector. 2. Building a portfolio of patents which become extremely valuable to the marketplace.
You’ve been in the game for a long time. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about design?
I am still learning every single day, and I think it’s important for any entrepreneur to study their industry’s activity and new product launches as if they’re studying for a huge exam. Usually when designing a new product line you look for design inspiration from competitors, however when designing unique products it becomes a bit more challenging because you’re creating something that does not exist elsewhere.
What carry product do you enjoy the most? What makes it enjoyable?
To name one I’d say the Genius Pack High Altitude Flight Bag. What I really like about it the most is the fact that no bag of this nature exists, it’s a slim-profile pack which wraps around the seat-back tray on the airplane so you just unload all of your pockets into this pack which lays right in front of you on a flight. I hate keeping my pockets stuffed on a long flight.
What bags do you run with daily?
I am a minimalist, so I try not to carry anything to/from the office. For meetings, if I need to carry documents, contracts, or a notebook I use the Genius Pack Leather Portfolio Case. It has a straight top zip with not too much interior organization, but has an integrated charger, so I keep my smartphone juicing up while I run around Manhattan.
What kinds of hobbies do you pursue when you aren’t creating wonderful new carry products?
My wife calls me a chef. I have an emotional connection to food and I particularly get a kick out of experimenting in the kitchen.
Are there any materials you used to like, but now find impractical for your creations?
Not really. I don’t really aspire to revolutionize products with innovative fabrics. I’m less obsessive over main-body and lining fabrics than I am over the individual features.
What wouldn’t the layperson know is essential to a good carry product? We all tend to appreciate convenient pockets, for example, but is there anything that we wouldn’t notice about an excellent carry product offhand but a master of Carryology always would?
(A carry product is a broad term, I’ll respond in reference to luggage) Oh there’s so much that comes out after using luggage products. Someone would walk into a store, feel the weight of a bag, look at the wheels, the external design, the trolley system, and they make a bet that they’ll all work well while being thrown around the world. An industry expert on the other hand will check the frame, check the balance of the bag, the denier of the material, the sturdiness of the trolley, and check the interior packing volume, etc.
If you weren’t making carry products, what would you likely be doing for a profession? Or do you have another passion that your carry creations help you enjoy more fully?
I’m amused with branding in general, which can range from the branding behind hotels to lifestyle brands to brands with niche products. Who knows where my career would have landed me if not here.
What’s next for Genius Pack?
We’re gearing up for rolling out a wider array of travel products that provide extreme organization and convenience, beyond just luggage. Travelers are seeking the full “Genius Pack” experience, and so we’re responding. We’re also introducing a beautiful luxe hardcase collection, the first ever hard-side luggage with interior designated category compartments. In addition, we’re developing a cool, super-light luggage collection which boasts our Laundry Compression Technology.