What dreamy travel curiosities come from a stylist and a cartographer who’ve fallen in love? The answer, Maptote: environmentally friendly, reusable totes made in the USA that are inspired by both time abroad and pride at home.
Hailing from Brooklyn, Rachel and Michael Berick created their line of totes, pouches and paper knick-knacks to whimsically capture the unique spirit of the places we go. Read on to learn more about their business and the joy of going off the beaten path.
Darling Magazine: Tell us about Maptote!
Rachel and Michael: Started in 2006, Maptote is a Brooklyn-based product line adorned with quirky maps and fun illustrations. Maptote is run by a husband wife team and we produce all our products in the USA with the majority being made local to us in Brooklyn.
DM: It’s neat to see how both of your loves for design translate from surveying expertise to traveling know-how. What freedom of creation has starting Maptote brought?
Rachel and Michael: One of the most interesting things for us is doing the research and speaking to locals of locations that we haven’t been to or have little knowledge of. We love finding the non-touristy quirkiness and humor of locations, such as the world’s largest chair or giant statues of Paul Bunyon.
We love finding the non-touristy quirkiness and humor of locations …
It is always fun to find the more off the beaten track neighborhood or strange monument. We also think locals get a kick out of seeing these sites on the map, as well. Some people think of our products as something for a tourist, but we really try to keep the local in mind when we design. They’re the ones we want to please.
DM: What’s been most fulfilling getting Maptote off the ground?
Rachel and Michael: Two things really stand out: Creating a business that sustains our lives in NY and allows us to employ people. And we love spotting people on the street carrying our totes. It still makes us giddy.
DM: What’s next on your list of dream travels?
Rachel and Michael: We love to travel! Being that it’s winter in NY our minds wander to the warmer locations. We’ve been dying to visit Argentina and Brazil, as we’ve never been to South America. The food and culture of both places sounds amazing and the minor time discrepancies between NY and South America would be great for our kids.
DM: What do you think is unique and important for knowing your home area and the quirky local things, like that Paul Bunyon statue?
Rachel and Michael: We like to hear about places and things that are not always the most obvious tourist spots. We always start brainstorming with the obvious and what we as outsiders think of a location. But our favorite thing is hearing about or finding about places we can’t find on Wikipedia. We involve our fans on Instagram and our social media outlets, asking for their input and insight.
DM: If someone has lived in an area for a while and still doesn’t feel like a well-versed local, how do you suggest they begin to get better acquainted?
Rachel and Michael: Talk to and hang out from people who have lived there forever. Ask questions and be curious. Find local blogs to follow. And of course, use one of our totes! We’ve had many customers tell us that it was purchasing one of our totes that helped them discover new places or learn about their new area. We love to hear that!
We’ve had many customers tell us that it was purchasing one of our totes that helped them discover new places or learn about their new area.
DM: As parents, how do your children add to the inspiration that Brooklyn brings to Maptote?
Rachel and Michael: Our lives in Brooklyn are much different now that we have kids. We don’t go out at night and instead are up with the sun (and our kids) and out of our house in the morning. We go to museums and parks and explore the city. Living with kids in NY is a much different experience.
We walk everywhere and our kids really make us stop to take everything in. Also, as parents we view our products and product development differently. We use our totes now as diaper bags hanging off our stroller, organize our kids items in zip pouches. We just came out with a nice big lined jumbo pouch that will we’re excited to use with stuff that might spill. We love making items that are cute and fun but could make our life (and hopefully others’ lives) easier.
DM: How do you foster hometown pride as a family? What do you hope for your children’s imaginations when it comes to sense of home and adventure in traveling?
Rachel and Michael: We are very active with a one year old and three year old. We have to be to keep up with them! We love seeing the city through their eyes. Even a trip on the subway or bus feels so much different with them. Its so exciting and you open your eyes to the city, so I feel they bring so much more to our imagination. For our three year old, we always talk to her about our neighborhood (Park Slope) and Brooklyn.
We want her to know that she lives here and it’s her home. We’ve always loved traveling outside of the city together, but its become harder with kids. As they get a bit older, we’re really looking forward to more traveling and hopefully international with them.
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Images provided by Maptote