We catch up with Marcos Mafia of MAFIABAGS, the company that creates designer bags handmade from upcycled kitesurf, windsurf and boat sails.

Founded by champion kite surfer Marcos Mafia and his industrial engineer sister Paz, MAFIA BAGS creates unique designer bags, all handmade from upcycled kitesurf, windsurf and boat sails. Each Mafia bag is carefully handcrafted in San Francisco and because they make very limited runs of their products using upcycled sailcloth, no two bags are the same.

We talk to Marcos, CEO and founder, to find out more...

We came up with the idea... Because we wanted to transform some of the disused sails that we had in our garage into something cool and practical. We started making bags to carry our wetsuits and giving them out to friends. We quickly realised we were on to something and started collecting more sails from fellow athletes and putting more thought into creating additional designs! The brand Mafia was then born to identify our bags with the spirit of adventure and the sustainability ethos that we live by everyday.

The biggest challenge is... Being a small company with fresh ideas in an industry where business is mostly done the old way. Our product, culture and sales focus will never follow the other 80% of bags and accessories companies. It’s funny that a hard kitesurfing or skiing session on the weekend ends up being a lot less challenging than our day-to-day execution challenges!

The average day is spent... Investing time with our team, working on products and jumping into the ocean. Every day is different, but the main thing is finding inspiration in the outdoors and the people we work with.

The team consists of... A few amazing people working on projects that will take our company to the next level. This includes designers, seamstress, our shop manager, an operations manager, and the sales & finance team. We also have some amazing partners leading the work of expanding the Mafia brand into the European, Japanese and Latin American markets. We are a small team, and a family with a big heart.

Our favourite quote is... “Keep moving”, and all of Marcos’ (Mafia’s founder) friends and family can tell you that he will never be seen standing still!

We are where we are today because of... All the support from our friends, family and mentors, who trusted us more than we ever trusted ourselves.

We are who we are because... We were lucky enough to be around great people.

The best advice I've been given... Is to “trust that everything is gonna work out”.

In five years we’d like to be... A reference product/company in the industry. By this time, we should have new goals that keep us awake at night.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business... Is that magic never happens, and you never actually get to stop working. Once you have the product you need, you have to have the best people, and always continue to work really hard. But what also almost everybody who knows always tells you is also true – you will be the happiest you’ll ever be.

The most rewarding experience we've had to date... Is our lives as entrepreneurs in San Francisco. Working in a company we love to change something about the world, with amazing people, and in a city by the ocean. It doesn’t get much better than this!

April 2016