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Chapel Bags from Woodstock
Caleb Pedersen makes rucksacks inspired by ethics and friendship
Caleb Pedersen needed a backpack. One where he could fit in his 15 inch Mac book and all the other things he needed for a full day. He wanted a cool looking back with covered zips. Inspired by an old second-hand bag, he made his first Chapel bag. It’s 2011 now and Caleb celebrates one year of Chapel bags, a quick success story based on a simple idea: bags locally made from locally sourced canvas and leather suppliers in Woodstock, Cape Town.
I meet Caleb, the Chapel Clothing founder at the Field Office in Cape Town, his brother’s coffee shop and showroom (Pedersen + Lennard), where the unique Chapel bags are also for sale.
Live, work, ride a bike
'Better by bicycle' is Chapel’s slogan. The bags are made for cyclists, yet loved by a larger demographic too. Caleb wants to encourage people to get on bicycles, use public transport and wear his bags. Chapel produces a computer bag (the bowler), an over-head luggage bag (the ravel), a bag for a week away (the duffel), a bicycle bag for phone and keys (the handlebar) and last but not least the famous backpack, the rucksack bestseller.
Caleb (25) hails from Port Elizabeth and came to study in Cape Town with his brother Luke. He studied fashion clothing management at Cape Technikon for four years. An exchange semester in Amsterdam started his love of bicycles. He tried his luck with making men’s clothing. Then, after a visit to India he started making sandals. 'Chapel' by the way is Hindi for 'sandal' (the spelling is different). The name Chapel made it, making men’s clothing and shoes didn’t since: "people are fussy with fading, colour and washing, it’s much harder than making bags," says Caleb.
Caleb makes the samples, sources fabrics, leather and buckles from Woodstock and has someone making the bags in the area too. It’s a product that’s 100% from Woodstock.
He sells his bags at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, at Me Me Me in Cape Town and Johannesburg and, of course, at the Field Office. Plus, a shop in Virginia, USA re-sells the bags.
Success – a business about people
"It’s something no one can compete with: it’s I, it’s Woodstock, we know everyone, and Chapel bags are for people who want to support local craftsmanship and friendship. People who buy from me often get to know me and become my friends." concludes Caleb.
This business has the right ethics; success is not measured by money, but by friendship.
By Antonia Heil
Caleb Pedersen | Woodstock | Cape Town | +27 (0)83 289 8326 | firstname.lastname@example.org | store.chapelclothing.co.za
P.S. Check out the online store, local prices range from R200 - R700; Caleb also sells old restored bicycles from Switzerland and Holland – check at the Field Office to stay in the loop.