11 min 7 sec

Adventurous Couple Designs & Sells Fashionable Backpacks

Backpacks that bring fashion to the mountains earn a Colorado couple an additional $2,500 a month while also feeding the homeless.
Manufacturing Product Retail Social Entrepreneurship Travel

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What It's About

Minimalist backpacks combine design and social good elements.

Business Model
Skills Required
Design & Coordination
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Kelly and Matilda recommend finding new ways to engage with your audience. Most people know how repetitive and annoying it can be on social media when brands try to promote themselves and their products non-stop. But, they’ve found that when you actually try to make friends and be have a positive impact on others, your Instagram marketing will function more smoothly and easily.

Fun Fact

The word “luggage” was originally invented by playwright William Shakespeare in his play Henry IV, and the word “backpack” didn’t make an appearance until 1910 (although it didn’t come from Shakespeare). Before the term backpack came around, people referred to bags as knapsacks or packsacks. We recommend bringing back "knapsack" if you want to kick it old school!

Notes from Chris

Episode 522

Planning for a trip is exciting because the possibilities are endless. You could go anywhere, stay anywhere, and eat anything (since everyone knows calories don’t count on vacation). But, with all this choice comes a little stress, too. What will you pack? How will you pack it? And, of course, what will you pack it in?

Kelly Belknap was working as a full-time Lyft driver in Colorado when he met Matilda Sandstrom, a nanny. They bonded over a shared passion for travel and adventure. This passion led them to a relationship, a marriage, and eventually a round-the-world backpacking trip to experience new cultures. It was during their travels that they witnessed the hardships of families that were struggling with hunger.

In particular, there was one experience that shook their foundation.

While backpacking in Bratislava, Slovakia, Kelly and Matilda happened upon a family of two parents and three young children. Less than a year ago, they were living in a house, working multiple jobs, and able to put food on the table each day. But work became scarce and lack of income forced them onto the street. It was seeing this experience firsthand that opened their eyes to a situation they had heard about before but hadn’t been able to imagine.

Wanting to do what they could to help, Matilda and Kelly prepared meals each morning from their hostel and began handing them out to anyone they encountered throughout the day that needed food. They started doing this in every country they visited. And, when they returned to the U.S. with a new awareness, they started noticing similar situations at home in Denver.

Their experiences traveling, combined with Matilda’s Swedish origin, inspired them to begin turning a budding idea in their heads into reality.

Matilda grew up in Sweden, and she and Kelly still spend 3 months a year there. As a foreigner, Kelly noticed that Scandinavians use backpacks as a form of expression and personal style. Backpacks were an accessory for their outfits, not just a tool to carry things around in. After their around-the-world trip, where backpacks were a key feature of their lives, Kelly and Matilda knew they wanted to bring this idea of a fashionably functional backpack… back to the U.S. It also helped that they both struggled to find a nice looking, high-quality backpack under $150.

From their round-the-world travel experience, they knew that they wanted to guarantee a constant flow of meals to those in need in their communities. So for every backpack sold, they decided to provide 25 meals to families in need across America. Their idea, and Adventurist Backpacks, took off!

Since their launch in September 2017, they’ve been able to provide over 15,000 meals to families in need, and have gotten their backpacks into 23 retail stores throughout Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Kentucky, Montana, Tennessee, and Wyoming. Next, they want to provide 30,000 meals and be stocked in over 40 retail stores by the time they hit their official one year business anniversary. Ultimately, they want to have the freedom to take their side hustle full-time and keep doing their part to further their social cause.

Kelly and Matilda have a few more backpacks and product designs in the works that they’re planning on introducing to the Adventurist line as they continue to build their brand and side hustle. The Denver residents feel like the best reward, besides the additional monthly income, is the ability to be passionate about both their side hustle and the benefits it brings to families who need assistance. The adventure is in the bag, but it’s also just beginning!


  • Adventurist Backpacks: Embrace the minimalist adventurer inside of you and pick up a backpack over on Kelly and Matilda's website!
  • Alibaba: The platform that Kelly and Matilda used to locate a manufacturer for their backpacks


Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"Our first order came before we officially launched! A chain store found us via our newly created Instagram account and liked the backpacks enough to order 90. It was an exciting time, but to be honest, as soon as this order was taken, the bar was raised and we were ready to focus and sell even more."
—Kelly Belknap & Matilda Sandstrom #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau