The Mills Fabrica Crowdfunding Students’ Multipurpose Backpack
By Nayantara Bhat | Hong Kong heritage project and incubator The Mills Fabrica launched a Kickstarter campaign on May 10 for the Multipurpose Family Backpack 5.0 (MFB 5.0), a student-designed multipurpose backpack with five functions. The MFB 5.0 was designed by five secondary school students whose project won The Mills Summer Program – an innovation and entrepreneurship workshop – in 2017. The bag is “designed to bring families closer”, according to the Kickstarter page. It can be split into a backpack, a tote bag, a small dinosaur backpack, and a picnic mat. The backpack also has a USB charging port, and the fabric is water resistant and mosquito repellent.
Four days into the Kickstarter campaign, the project received over US$8,000 of its $10,191 goal. This initial round of funding will be used to produce around 110 bags for retail.
The five students – Abby Ma, Audrey Chau, Ines Tang, Louisa Chan, and Mandy Fong – stitched a prototype, then realised some changes had to be made. The backpack was much heavier than expected, and was decorated in bright pinks and blues, far from the sensible grey of the final design.
Taking advantage of consultations with textile industry leaders organised by The Mills, the students decided to rework their initial design so that it would be commercially viable to produce.
The students say they hope to take their work further by designing more products in the future. The Mills Co-director Carine Pin says the objective of the program is to encourage the younger generation to become entrepreneurs.
The second round of The Mills Summer Program this year will present students with the task of using a textile to solve a problem sustainably. The Mills Marketing Director Ellie Leung says they have high hopes for this year’s program after the unexpected success of the 2017 round.
“According to last year’s experience, [the students] can do much better than we thought,” she says. The Mills team believes that crowdfunding will help the students to refine their product even further, and hopes that successive rounds of the program will inspire a community effort to boost young entrepreneurs.