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Product Spotlight: Take Back Your Day with Day Owl

Product Spotlight: Take Back Your Day with Day Owl
September 28, 2020

In this article


Meet Day Owl

Move over, night owls. The day is where it’s at — and Day Owl wants to help you get after it, every day. We sat down with the Day Owl team to learn a little more about the company’s ethos, their product line, and the impact the company has made so far. 

Spoiler alert: If you are looking for a backpack that can take whatever life throws at you, wherever you are, and want to support the planet and sustainability at the same time, Day Owl has got your back. Let’s dive into it🦉

a brand for the next generation

Day Owl is not your typical product company. 

In fact, they don’t see themselves as a product company at all. 

“Day Owl was created as a brand that celebrates the next generation of consumers,” says Sam Klein, COO at Day Owl, “We exist for the customer and the planet. We don't exist to sell more products.”

Surprised? But it makes sense: the retail industry is flush with waste and fast fashion is one of the biggest culprits

As a result, consumers have learned to be careful about the products they buy. They don’t just want a product to look good; today’s consumers are also thinking about the durability and the environmental impact of the product.

Day Owl is a company that understands that. The team has been employing a people-first sustainability model since 2011 through First MileTM — a supply chain network supporting jobs in countries like Haiti, Honduras, and Taiwan. 

And thanks to the work of locals in these countries, Day Owl products are made of recycled materials enabling responsible retail. “Every backpack we make actually picks up bottles that would otherwise end up in the landfill or the ocean, and puts them into something good,” says Sam. 

🌏  Learn more about how First Mile works

With so many companies allowing employees to work from home, the Day Owl team has also recently noticed several rave reviews that this is the perfect work from home backpack. At the end of the day, you can sign off, pack up your work stuff in your day owl backpack and enjoy your evenings! 🎉

“Day Owl was created as a brand that celebrates the next generation of consumers. We exist for the customer and the planet. We don't exist to sell more products.”


A Backpack to Help You Carpe Your Diem

What does Day Owl mean? “It's a play on night owl,” says Sam, “Day Owl exists for customers to get the most out of their day, wherever their day takes them.”

So, go ahead. Pack a bag. Go from the train to a yoga class to an investor pitch to a date — you’ve got everything you need with you.

“[We believe] it's not about living for the weekends, living for the night. It's about living a full life sunup to sundown and feeling fulfilled. It’s really just about living a fulfilling life, whatever that means for you, through and through. It's about embracing the day,” says Sam.

“It's not about living for the weekends, living for the night. It's about living a full life sunup to sundown [...] whatever that means for you, through and through. It's about embracing the day.”


the design process

At SwagUp, we embrace a customer-centric approach by design and believe that less is more. As such, we’re excited to share that not only does Day Owl share a similar philosophy but they also have a pretty neat story behind the design process of their backpacks.

“We were having a team meeting and we checked what we had in our bags. So it started with that question, what do people actually carry every day?” says Sam.

From there, the Day Owl team took to the streets of New York for further insights. “For three days, we bounced around coffee shops and asked random people what was in their bag, what they liked about their bag, what they hated about their bag.” 

We know you’re wondering. Was it awkward? 

“It was so awkward. But so helpful,” says Sam. “My favorite comment was from this very attractive man in Williamsburg. He had a North Face backpack and his favorite thing about his bag was that he had a separate laptop compartment. He was like, I can get my laptop without revealing my dirty underwear. 

And I was like, that's so brilliant though. Because if you go from a meeting to a date or whatever, every compartment serves a different part of your day. You can get whatever you need.”

“I love the style, the material, and ESPECIALLY the sustainability and positive economic and social impact of the backpack and the company. It is a gorgeous work of art, from the drawing board to the sourcing to the production to the use of it. 

Thank you for a beautiful product and an even more beautiful and powerful intention for good in the world.”


From there, the Day Owl team took the customer feedback they got and moved to the next level: a Kickstarter. The results were even better. Out of an original goal of $45,000, the Kickstarter earned a total of $571,353 pledged across 3,533 packers. The rest, as they say, is history.

what’s in a backpack?

“The durability and the versatility are two of the biggest differentiators for the consumer,” says Sam. Day Owl backpacks are made of sturdy First Mile waxed canvas, LWG certified genuine leather, and water repellant neoprene. 

The canvas in particular is worth raving about: it’s more durable, weather-resistant, and sustainable than traditional cotton. As a bonus, the company offers free repairs for life. This is a bag meant to grow with you. In Day Owl’s words: It’s designed to last forever, so you can get up to whatever.

“What I think is most compelling about the bag is that it's so simplistic and yet elevated looking. We say it's a backpack for a goddamn adult. You can hold it by the handles and walk into a meeting.

It’s intuitive in its design. There's a front pocket, a top pocket, secret side pockets to access your keys, and it has a neoprene-lined waterproof water bottle pocket big enough to hold a bottle of wine.” 

💡Bonus: if you’re planning a virtual event or thinking about sending some employee appreciation care packages, the Day Owl bag is fun to pack out as a gift! 

Creating a Positive Impact at Home and Abroad 

Day Owl is a certified B Corporation, meaning the company meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance. They do this in a number of ways both with local and global operations.

“Our supply chain creates income opportunities through First Mile,” says Sam, “And the second step in our impact is that we're also based in a neighborhood called Homewood in Pittsburgh where we are employing people from the neighborhood to do jobs, and we're training them in jobs like fulfillment and customer service. Our impact strategy is not just about the environment, it's also a social strategy.”

Additionally, for every bag sold, a percentage of the proceeds goes back into Day Owl’s supply chain to assist workers with areas like job training and education for kids. So far, Day Owl has saved near 97 million plastic bottles through their backpacks.

 for each Day Owl bag made 



700 gal


1.2 lbs


so what’s next for Day Owl?

The Day Owl product line is intentionally limited and not for lack of ideas.

“We have lots and lots of ideas. But the reality is we're committed to our customers. We really, really believe in this idea of less is more,” says Sam, 

“So until our customer tells us they need something else from us, we're not going to just go make stuff to make more things.”

What does the future of retail look like to the Day Owl team? “We love the idea of collaboration. We don't ever need to make shoes. Allbirds makes beautiful shoes out of beautiful materials that are good for the environment, good for the people,” says Sam.

“We really think the future of retail is more about collaborations and celebrating the companies that are doing it well. The options are endless. If we find the next product that we feel we can solve problems and make it better than what exists, [then] absolutely. But we're not publicly committing to anything yet.”

One thing’s for sure: Day Owl customers will be eagerly awaiting the company’s next project. 

Want Day Owl backpacks in your next swag project? Reach out to a Swag Expert! 🚀


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