The Level Collective – Winnats Roll Top Backpack Kickstarter

We sat down with Mark Musgrave from The Level Collective to find out about his brand new creation and Kickstarter campaign…

Tell​ ​us​ ​a​ ​little​ ​bit​ ​about​ ​your​ ​background​ ​and​ ​what​ ​inspired​ ​you​ ​to​ ​design the​ ​Winnats​ ​Roll​ ​Top​ ​backpack?

Well, ​I’m ​a ​designer ​based ​in ​Sheffield ​and ​I ​started The ​Level ​Collective just ​over ​three years ​ago ​as ​a ​side ​project ​that ​has ​now got ​a ​bit ​out ​of ​hand… but in ​a ​good ​way. ​It’s ​grown organically ​through ​Instagram ​and ​I ​now ​run ​it ​2-3 ​days ​per ​week ​alongside ​freelance design ​work ​to ​help ​pay ​the ​bills. ​I ​collaborate ​with ​artists ​and ​makers ​to ​create ​ethical outdoor ​supplies ​such ​as ​graphic ​t-shirts, ​sweaters, ​beanies ​and ​water ​bottles… and ​now a backpack ​and ​utility ​pack. 

I’d ​noticed ​that ​many ​outdoorsy ​backpacks ​are ​very ​functional ​looking – ​plasticky ​and busy ​with ​lots ​of ​toggles ​and ​buckles, ​which ​for ​most ​people, ​are ​just ​unnecessary ​and make ​them ​untidy ​for ​wearing ​around ​the ​city ​or ​for ​work.

I ​thought ​it ​would ​be ​great ​to ​design ​a ​backpack ​that ​performed ​well ​outdoors ​but ​was much ​more ​minimalist ​and ​design-led ​so ​it ​can ​look ​smart ​whether you’re ​roaming in the great ​outdoors or ​in ​the ​city.

I ​decided ​to ​use ​natural ​ingredients ​such ​as ​the ​Halley ​Stevensons ​waxed ​cotton ​from Scotland ​and ​vegetable ​tan ​leather ​details ​from ​Derbyshire. ​Both ​materials ​perform ​well outdoors ​but ​also ​gain ​beauty ​and ​character ​with ​age ​as ​they ​get ​scuffed-up ​and ​take on ​a ​vintage ​and ​well-loved ​aesthetic ​like ​an ​old ​pair ​of ​boots. ​It’s ​a ​bag ​that’s ​made ​to ​be loved ​and ​used ​for ​years ​to ​come.

I ​also ​wanted ​every ​aspect ​of ​the ​bag ​to ​be ​ethically ​made, ​sourced ​as ​locally ​as possible, ​and ​hand-crafted ​in ​the ​UK. ​I’ve ​enjoyed ​discovering ​that ​we ​have ​so much ​manufacturing ​talent ​here ​in ​Britain ​and ​it’s ​a ​shame ​to ​see ​that ​decline through ​outsourcing ​to ​cheaper ​economies. ​I ​think ​more ​and ​more ​people ​are ​taking ​an interest ​in ​where ​their ​clothing ​and ​apparel ​is ​made, ​and ​I ​want ​to ​support ​British manufacturing ​wherever ​possible.


You’ve​ ​recently​ ​launched​ ​a​ ​Kickstarter​ ​campaign​ ​for​ ​the​ ​backpack​ ​project, ​what​ ​will​ ​the​ ​funds​ ​enable​ ​you​ ​to​ ​do?

For​ ​those​ ​of​ ​your​ ​not​ ​familiar​ ​with​ ​Kickstarter,​ ​it’s​ ​basically​ ​a​ ​really​ ​great​ ​website that​ ​allows​ ​people​ ​to​ ​support​ ​or​ ​“pledge”​ ​money​ ​so​ ​different​ ​ideas​ ​and​ ​projects can happen.​ ​Projects​ ​can​ ​range​ ​from​ ​art, ​engineering and ​trips,​ ​to publishing and ​film, anything​ ​really.​ ​People​ ​are​ ​usually​ ​given​ ​different​ ​“Rewards”​ ​based​ ​on​ ​the pledge​ ​amount.​ ​Some​ ​rewards​ ​are​ ​really​ ​small​ ​and​ ​simple​ ​like​ ​a​ ​‘thank​ ​you’ email,​ ​right​ ​up​ ​to​ ​starring​ ​in​ ​the​ ​would-be​ ​film,​ ​or​ ​in​ ​my​ ​case;​ ​pre-ordering​ ​the backpack!

I’m​ ​using​ ​Kickstarter​ ​to​ ​help​ ​fund​ ​my​ ​first​ ​small​ ​batch​ ​of​ ​backpacks because​ ​they​’re​ ​really​ ​expensive​ ​to​ ​create​ ​and​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​the​ ​cash​ ​to​ ​make them​ ​up​ ​front.​ ​I​ ​also​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​see​ ​what​ ​people​ ​think​ ​about​ ​them​ ​and​ ​whether they​ ​are​ ​willing​ ​to​ ​pre-order​ ​them.

It’s​ ​amazing​ ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​offer​ ​a​ ​product​ ​to​ ​the​ ​world​ ​without​ ​having​ ​to​ ​afford​ ​to manufacture​ ​them​ ​all​ ​up​ ​front.

How​ ​can​ ​people​​ ​support​ ​the​ ​project ​&​ ​what​ ​ ​rewards are​ ​on​ ​offer​ ​for​ ​people​ ​who​ ​pledge​ ​to​ ​back​ ​the​ ​project?

Well,​ ​people​ ​simply​ ​sharing​ ​the​ ​Winnats​ ​Roll​ ​Top​ ​Backpack​ ​Kickstarter​ ​project with​ ​friends and family​ ​on​ ​social​ ​media​ ​is​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​help.​ ​Even​ ​if​ ​it’s​ ​not​ ​quite​ ​‘your​ ​bag’ (pun​ ​shamelessly​ ​intended)​, ​one​ ​of​ ​your​ ​friends​ ​may​ ​love​ ​it!

I’ve​ ​also​ ​got​ ​quite​ ​a​ ​few​ ​different​ ​rewards​ at ​different​ ​prices​ ​because​ ​I’d​ ​love​ ​people to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​support​ ​my​ ​project​ ​in​ ​whatever​ ​way​ ​they​ ​can.

Enamel​ ​pin​ ​badges​ ​and​ ​scout​ ​patches​ ​seem​ ​to​ ​be​ ​really​ ​popular​ ​so​ ​far, and I’ve​ ​also​ ​designed​ ​the​ ​Peaks​ ​Utility​ ​Pack​ ​ ​which​ ​is​ ​made​ ​from​ ​the​ ​same​ ​Waxed Cotton​ ​and​ ​British​ ​Leather​ ​as​ ​the​ ​backpack.​ ​These​ ​are​ ​designed​ ​to​ ​be​ ​used​ ​for camping​ ​accessories,​ ​pencil​ ​case,​ ​wash​ ​bag… you​ ​name​ ​it. And​ ​of​ ​course​ ​we​ ​have​ ​the​ ​Winnats​ ​Roll​ ​Top​ ​Backpack​ ​itself,​ ​which​ ​people​ ​can pre-order​ ​for​ ​a​ ​Kickstarter​ ​intro​ ​price​ ​of​ ​£159​ ​-​ ​after​ ​Kickstarter​ ​they’ll​ ​be​ ​priced at​ ​£179.​ ​I​’m​ ​only​ ​making​ ​100​ ​of​ ​these​ ​in​ ​time​ ​for​ ​Christmas​ ​and​ ​quite​ ​a​ ​few have​ ​already​ ​gone.

And​ ​finally,​ ​how​ ​long​ ​do​ ​people​ ​have​ ​left​ ​to​ ​pledge​ ​to​ ​support​ ​the​ ​Winnats ​Roll​ ​Top?

Well ​the ​Kickstarter ​ends ​on ​16 ​October ​so ​not ​too ​long ​left ​now. ​I’d ​be ​very ​grateful ​for whatever ​support ​people ​can ​give!

You ​can ​see ​the ​video ​of ​making ​the ​bag ​and ​all ​the ​different ​rewards ​at ​my Winnats Roll ​Top ​Backpack ​Kickstarter.

Interview by Felicity Jackson
Images courtesy of The Level Collective


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