A decade of design: Bellroy turns 10!

Bellroy originated 10 years ago, when a team of product designers and engineers realized they could re-engineer the standard wallet – and use it to better not only the way we move through life, but also what that life looks like for all of us.

And, after 10 big years, here we are – and we’re thrilled you’re here too. We’ve come a long way since we first sat around a kitchen table in Bells Beach with an idea, and it’s thanks to you, our community, that we’re able to do the work we do. Our progress is your progress. And here are some highlights from the journey so far.

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It started with one.

We sat around a kitchen table, drawing insights from our carry blog, Carryology, as well as collective knowledge about product design, engineering and business, and an optimistic spirit… to show the world how slim a wallet could be. That very first design became what we now call the Slim Sleeve.

One soon became five.

We launched our first range of products in August – with five wallets shot on a backyard fence in Melbourne. The Very Small, Very Protective, Slim Sleeve, Hide & Seek and Take Out were all designed to let folks store and carry their daily essentials in minimalist formats.

The stop-motion videos began with creepy crawling cash.

Bellroy’s in-house photo team decided to experiment with adding movement to our product photography… It’s fair to say our stop-motion videos have come a long way since this masterpiece (that we now affectionately call ‘Slug Money’).

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Slim Your Wallet became a thing. Fast.

We soon started to see that the world had been ready and waiting for slim wallets. So we doubled down, registered slimyourwallet.com and launched a campaign that we’re still known for today.

We took our slim design traveling.

After initial success with our everyday wallets, we expanded into travel, with our iconic and ever-popular Travel Wallet.

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We signed on with our first international retailer – Huckberry.

Since then, we’ve found our way into more than 1200 stockists around the globe, and we’re pleased to say Huckberry is still one of them, 8 years later.

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Our sales team flew to Las Vegas for their first international trade show.

With fiberboard trunks handmade in Melbourne, the team carried our wallet range across the world for their first international trade show.

You liked what we were doing… so we found a way to do more of it.

In September of 2013, we enlisted full capacity from our first manufacturer to increase our production capacity. That meant we then had 90 craftspeople across two floors of a factory in Chennai, India, working full-time on Bellroy products. (Many of whom still work on our products today!)

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We moved in with Roy.

Having had various ties with the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy since the beginning, it was in 2014 when we made things official; and moved into our converted chocolate factory among some of Melbourne’s most creative (and caffeinated) businesses.

Our first newsletter hit inboxes.

We cringe a little looking back on it now, but you have to start somewhere! And in June 2014, we sent a newsletter written by ‘Roy the Owl’ himself. (No comment.)

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We put an extra B in Bellroy.

We always knew we wanted to use our business to do good things for the world as a whole. And in 2015, we joined the crew of B Corp certified businesses around the world, working to solve social and environmental issues.

The range expanded beyond wallets.

Our Phone Case collection was released for the iPhone 6 (remember those?). The Phone Case - 3 Card has since had a redesign (where our obsession with magnets was first realized) and remains a favorite – of yours, and of our co-founder Andy’s.

We started sourcing our leather from gold-rated tanneries.

We spent years refining and improving ways to source our leather. In 2015, we committed to sourcing our leather from tanneries with a gold rating from the Leather Working Group (the largest industry body working for environmental stewardship across the leather supply chain). This means that the tanneries are regularly audited and are achieving or exceeding strict standards regarding water usage, effluent, electricity, pollution, labor, working conditions, and other criteria. It also means that we get superior quality leather with great durability and longevity.

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Barneys New York gave us some color confidence.

The New York fashion retailer let us play with new leathers and bold colours for our first collaboration collection. It sold out (you couldn’t resist that electric blue!) and we did a second run with more colors the following year.

We delved into a whole new category: Work Accessories.

We started inching further out of people’s pockets with the launch of our work accessories range, applying some of the slim storage tricks we’d used for wallets, on everyday work essentials. The Notebook Cover Mini quickly became the most regular attendee at all Bellroy meetings. And some of us still remember the in-depth conversations around the difference between ‘stationery’, ‘work tools’ and ‘work accessories’.

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The time for hiding in pockets was officially over. We launched bags!

Bellroy was always intended to be a bag brand… but in true Bellroy style, we took a few years to get our bag designs into the world. After bedding down customer insights and design tricks gathered over the years, we felt ready and able to make a difference to the way bags were designed and made. So in late 2017, we released our first collection of six styles. Including our ever-popular staple, the Classic Backpack.

We were Made for Google.

Since the beginning, we’d been designing products to enhance our customers’ everyday experiences. And it’s fair to say we were pretty thrilled when a small, unknown Silicon Valley brand by the name of Google (sarcasm alert) asked us to do the same for their products. The first Made for Google collection launched with a leather case for Pixel, a sleeve for the Pixelbook and a Pixelbook pen clip.

A little ol’ carry brand from Australia was voted the inaugural Chair of Leather Working Group’s Animal Welfare Group sub-committee.

We managed to get our mouths around the name, and chair our first meeting in Hong Kong, with some of the world’s biggest brands (that you’d definitely know and/or wear). We still hold the spot, pushing hard for better traceability and animal welfare standards in the leather industry.

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The Classic Pouch became the most popular product launch.

We were thrilled to see how much you all loved the little pouch that could. We’ve since remixed it in many colors and will continue to play with expressing this humble little star in different ways.

We proved our B Corp status once again.

To keep B Corps on track and accountable, we all have to submit an application for recertification every three years. It’s a nice reminder of all the things we are doing well – and all the things we are working to improve, too!

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You bought a Bellroy, for the 2 millionth time.

In 2019, we sold our 2 millionth product. Surprised emoji! It’s been amazing to hear some of the adventures they have been on with their owners – including Tom who high-fived a fellow Bellroy owner in the queue at Starbucks, and a different Tom who sent his wallet through the wash three times! (Please don’t try that at home.) And Jacob who lost his wallet in the snow – only to find it again once the snow had melted a month later...

You proved yourselves to be avid slingers.

The Sling quickly became the most popular product release of all time, selling out within two weeks. Kudos to all of you for keeping our supply team on their toes! We restocked it within a couple of months and watched on as the Sling popped up on your shoulders around the world.

We put plastic bottles to better use in bag form, with the launch of our recycled range.

After years of researching, experimenting and testing, we found a way to make our woven fabrics out of recycled plastic bottles, without sacrificing the quality and longevity of those materials. The response from our community was heartwarming – and motivated us to push even harder for more sustainable materials, and, eventually, closing the loop.

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We’re celebrating our milestones, and searching for new ones.

Since that first kitchen table meeting, we have grown into a global crew of more than 100 people (there’s no dining table big enough for us now). Brought together with a mission to help the world carry better, use business as a force for good, and help the world – and each other – flourish. Thank you for being right here with us. For any of you who remember emails from Roy the Owl, the surf lingo, and meetings with our sales crew and their trunks… what a ride it’s been!

As for 2020, and the new decade… there is so much more to come. 2020 alone is going to feature more recycled fabrics, creative collaborations, a new take on travel, the backpack our founding designer, Andy, always wanted to design, and another product to rival the Sling.

So, get ready. And here’s cheers to the next 10.

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