Two for One

ESPEROS backpacks: Hope for the future of Central America from the heart of Texas

ESPEROS backpacks: Hope for the future of Central America from the heart of Texas

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Esperos Bags Courtesy of Esperos
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Courtesy of Esperos
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Esperos helps send one child to school in Haiti for a whole year with the purchase of one bag. Courtesy of Esperos
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A bi-weekly meeting for women who are part of Fonkoze's Ti Kredi micro-loan program in Haiti. Courtesy of Esperos
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I don’t know if you’ve walked down the seasonal aisle of any store in America recently, but the holidays are back in full force.

The season of giving (preceded by the less marketable season of thanks) is just around the corner, and since you’ll already be online shopping for your friends and family, you should check out Austin-based virtual backpack and book bag shop, ESPEROS.

ESPEROS, a name derived from the Spanish verb "esperar," meaning “to hope,” donates 50 percent of the profits from each bag sold to help send a child in Central America to school for a year. The classic, no-frill backpacks and totes are made from a lightweight cotton canvas and emulate Austin’s laid-back — sometimes a little earthy — style.

 Drawing inspiration from companies like Warby Parker and FEED Project, ESPEROS creates a beautiful balance between style and social impact, bringing to light global issues and offering simple solutions. 

Though the current shop is exclusively online, its headquarters are right here in Austin, run by founder and recent University of Texas grad, Oliver Shuttlesworth.

Shuttlesworth got the idea for ESPEROS in 2011 after an eye-opening trip through some of the most impoverished regions of Central America. “I heard the same recurring theme among families I spoke with: a desire for their children to receive a quality education.”

In developing countries, the seemingly low price of $20 to send a child to school for a year is a nearly impossible expense for families living on only $1 a day. Shuttlesworth explains, “That is really the entire reason I started the company in a nut shell — the fact that it costs that little, and the fact that most people have no idea that's the case.”

Drawing inspiration from companies like Warby Parker and FEED Project, ESPEROS creates a beautiful balance between style and social impact, bringing to light global issues and offering simple solutions. Shuttlesworth admits that pricing the bags was no easy task. At $60 to $70 a bag, it might seem like a pretty steep investment, but he believes it’s a reasonable one.

“The way I try to get people to think about it is like this: With every backpack you buy from us, you're getting a high quality, well designed product for a heck of a price and making a $20 donation to send a child to school on top of it.”

The company hopes to expand into a full-scale bag line, even playing with the idea of adding tank tops, hoodies and henleys to its fleet of designs. ESPEROS has also recently looked into selling the bags in local retail shops, like Whole Earth and Stag.

Whatever the future hold for this company, Shuttlesworth stands by its goal of giving back. “In the end, all that matters to me is that we make an impact on the lives of children and families who need our help the most.”

Now that’s a gift worth giving.