It was 5:45 A.M.
To be fair, the view was gorgeous from the room at the Vdara hotel in Las Vegas. It was the morning after the first New Years Eve I spent away from Lindsey since we met. The lights still twinkled over the city in a magical dance, like fireflies. In that moment, I wasn't sad, nor was I excited yet. I was tired. Blurry eyed and toe-stubbing-on-the-nightstand tired. And despite being the dawn of 2017, I only had a single drink the night before, though the alarm still sounded like a drill sergeant.
I had to be on site at 6:30 which meant an Uber at 6:15, which meant I needed one more pair of pants and an additional shirt on than I currently did. I also needed to brush my teeth, throw something in my hair, a bit of oil in my beard, comb up a bit. Oh and deodorant.
After dressing, throwing a tie around my neck, somehow making it look a 7/10 (thank you very much), I stared at myself in the mirror. Then down at the bathroom sink. I had laid out a hand towel with all of my toiletries lined up neatly. I proceeded one by one to use each, swiftly, checking my watch, then hurrying on. My dopp kit sat on the corner, empty. It was too bulky and I kept digging around in it for the things I needed, which took longer than the time I always seemed to have. So instead, they lay there on the hand towel for the third night in a row.
I wish I had a tray.
I thought very distinctly about a tray I used to have at an old apartment, filled with sand and a small succulent, two handles on the side. It sat on the coffee table, my slice of the beach. A tray, that's all I need. This is a nice hotel, I bet I can call the front desk and ask them for a tray. I'm sure they'll have what I need. Just a tray. An odd request to be sure, but not too out of the ordinary. To put my toiletries in on the bathroom sink. Well, no, maybe don't tell them that, maybe that is a little weird. Just ask for a tray.
My phone beeped, my producer asking for my ETA. No time to call the front desk, instead I called an Uber. Coffee would have to wait a little longer.
That's how it all started, a nagging, relentless thought while I was Production Manager of a broadcast in Las Vegas January of 2017. Though I work on Calila full time now, I will still occasionally set aside time for production jobs with this Producer. He's a good guy.
When I returned home to Los Angeles after that trip, I spoke with Lindsey about my idea.
"See, I was there in the hotel, rushing and getting ready, and I had laid all my toiletries out on a towel."
"Wait, why did you do that?"
"Well I was sick of digging around in the dopp kit. I didn't want to leave it open all the time, and the zipper only goes half way around so I was always looking for things. So I just took everything out and laid them neatly so I didn't have to do that anymore."
"On a hand towel?"
"Yeah, but you know what? I almost called the hotel and asked for a tray."
"What do you mean a tray?"
"Oh I don't know, something small. Just to keep everything contained and organized, but so I didn't have to go digging around. I just wanted to be able to see everything so I could just grab it and use it."
"So you don't like your dopp kit."
"I mean, its fine, but when I get somewhere its no longer useful. I need something else when I get to the hotel."
"What if it was a tray?"
"What do you mean?"
She didn't answer, just smiled. A week later she showed me the prototype for what would become The Wanderer. I looked it up and down, zipping it open and closed, folding it flat, then back into that gorgeous clean rectangle shape again.
But how amazing it was, we were yet to know. The next two months we tested it, every day. And it worked surprisingly well. It folded open, completely flat, the exact type of tray shape I imagined.
And then we took it to our first pop-up event with it and almost sold out. Then we made more and actually sold out at the next event.
People instantaneously got what it was used for. They saw the functionality in the design instantly. They loved the softness of the leather, the supple full grain that Lindsey loves. Water resistant canvas lining helped people know the inside would stay clean, as well as did the semi-aniline leather with its protective coating. And when we switched to the high end G2 zippers, they moved like butter, holding the clean minimal shape of the exterior.
Then, people liked the design so much they started using it for other things. One customer bought it for their shoe cleaning kit. Another for her entire makeup set. Another for his art supplies. Another for her glasses. Someone even bought it for wire cables. Seems like our customers are even more creative than we are.
Today, The Wanderer leather travel kit has become our top seller, and our first design to require a partnership with a leather crafter here in Los Angeles, as we can no longer keep up with demand with Lindsey and myself alone. And it has even spawned The Day Tripper, our vegan vinyl line based on the same design.
In a single product, we have defined and fulfilled our company's motto:
Simple + Functional = Beautiful
We're incredibly happy to share this design with you as well, and we hope it adds value to your life, even if it's before 6:00 A.M. in Las Vegas.