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Kámen Road is an artisan travel and work bag collection committed to ethical production in the United States. A small scale slow fashion brand that harnesses natural, sustainable, and fair-trade materials designed to age well and last for a long time, the company’s goal is to offer consumers a single bag that they can use for travel, work, and everyday life.
Kathleen Murphy is the founder and the creative and operations lead of Kámen Road. Originally, she wanted to nail the perfect bag size for carry-on travel that would eliminate the need for a roller suitcase. In a billion-dollar travel goods industry, she wondered about the environmental impact of a roller bag, which cannot be recycled or repaired easily. She questioned if luggage was even necessary for travel. One of her primary goals with Kámen Road is to reduce waste.
“I am still shocked about the discovery of my life’s purpose,” Murphy says. She was 45 years old and lacking any prior experience in the field of design and fashion when she first started to explore the possibility of Kámen Road. She harnessed her concern for the environment and enduring love for beautiful things. “I have a strong sense of place and love finding little trails, even in my suburban neighborhood. As a very young child, I’d play in the quickly-disappearing orchards right outside of my house, which was a track home development in the middle of Santa Clara Valley – now Silicon Valley. I wasn’t considered an artistic kid, but I always loved beauty.”
Murphy started her career as a grant writer for non-profits, a position she held for 15 years. However, she became restless and tired of the constant “no’s.” Now, she realizes it was the lack of a creative outlet that killed her passion for the work. “I kept yearning to express myself and had all these ideas about one beautiful bag because of my passion for quiet reflection, nature, and travel,” she says. “I found the perfect creative outlet in the process of creating a bag rooted in my values.”
Now that she is doing what she loves for a living, Murphy thinks often of her mother, who got up every day and went to work early in the morning at a job she didn’t love just so that Murphy and her brothers would be taken care of. “The fact that I am able to pursue this new career is an absolute privilege,” she says. “I want to use it to create opportunities for others to discover their purpose. The greatest reward is the energy that comes with being inspired all the time, even when problems halt the drive.”
The greatest challenge Murphy faces with Kámen Road is very limited manufacturing on a small scale here in the U.S. She only wants to produce in small quantities in order to reduce waste and constantly refine and improve her product, but it has been difficult to find access to the right manufacturing partners. Fortunately, Murphy has tapped into a great resource with Fibershed, a nationwide domestic network of regional, small farms that allows her to source, say, 50 yards of wool herringbone weave or 100 pieces of a copper hinge for her bags. Her goal is to source 50% of her materials from Fibershed this year and 75% by 2021.
To others looking to align their career with their life purpose, Murphy offers this advice: “ Take classes in or outside of school in the arts, classes that require you to build and make things . Had I taken shop, a drawing class, a gardening class, or woodworking, I would have experienced the entire creative process – mental and physical – from taking a solid form or a blank page and completing it as a narrative, an object or image. And with that experience of making, I know now that I would have understood my life purpose’s earlier. Take your desire or even inkling of a desire and experience it firsthand.”
June 14, 2019 at 09:53AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs