Penelope Manasco faced the same problem as millions of women in today’s mobile workforce: She couldn’t find a stylish, practical bag that could hold all her belongings yet not weigh her down or make her look dowdy. This physician, pharmaceutical executive, and genetic scientist had had enough, and she did what many of us have dreamed of pursuing: She created Avion, a laptop bag that goes from ergonomically correct backpack to shoulder bag, retaining its good looks the entire way. Along with the Go Girl bag, the Penelope team has created an ideal solution for any busy, fashionable woman who lives life on the go.
The Avion bag comes in a variety of lightweight, attractive fabrics, but the true beauty is in the details. Upon initial inspection, you’ll notice that the bag has a variety of pockets, the perfect size to hold your BlackBerry, iPod, cell phone, headset, tickets, or passport. You’ll also find pen loops inside the pockets so that you’ll always be ready when you need to jot down a note. One of the pockets not only hold your water bottle, it’s lined in water-resistant fabric to guard against condensation.
Inside, you’ll find that two main compartments, one of which is fully lined and padded to protect your laptop, while the other zippered area can hold valuables such as your wallet, files, and makeup. Additionally, another zippered section is located inside for an additional line of defense against pickpockets. To switch between the shoulder bag and the backpack, you need simply adjust the clasp and the straps; there’s no extra hardware to attach or detach.
Younger women, especially those in college, will gravitate toward the Go Girl messenger bag, which promises the same principles of comfort, ergonomics, and protection as the Avion bag, but in a funkier package. Just like the Avion, the Go Girl comes with waterproof lining, pen loops, and separate pockets for your electronic goods. These canvas bags come in a range of vibrant colors, but they can also be personalized with monograms, buttons, beading?anything the college girl can think of!
Neither Penelope nor her team did it alone. As a doctor and a scientist, Penelope provided rigorous logic and her real-world experience, living out of airports and zipping through business trips. Nancy Worrell, a fabric artist and co-owner of a fabric store, also jumped in, as did Lisa Hamilton, a young designer from Trinidad and a recent graduate of Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Just as importantly, they enlisted the help of real-world testers, who volunteered their input on prototypes of the bag. It was only after they had satisfied these various groups that they were ready to bring the Avion bag to the masses.
You don’t necessarily need to know that Penelope Bags was created and tested by women for women or that its designs were based on the real-world needs of a successful businesswoman who had spent far too many hours in airports and on the road. Rather, the careful, well-thought-out construction on the Avion and the Go Girl bags speak for themselves. The next time you’re flying on a business trip or even your next class, these are the bags you’ll want to take with you.
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Written by Jane Emery