The bag was strong, sturdy and perfect for her commute. People loved the bag so much they started requesting one of their own.
Since then, Vaya Bags has expanded the collection to include purses, laptop cases and book bags, as well as other accessories such as panniers, belts, wallets, cell phone holders and handle bar bags for bikes.
Meilinger and two others make the bags by hand.
“They’re each individually handmade,” Meilinger said. “We make everything at our store in Ridgewood.”
Meilinger uses recycled products, such as bike tubes and old canvas, to craft the the bags.
The bags take two to four hours to make, and according to Meilinger the best part about Vaya Bags is getting to create a product from scratch.
“I love the creativity,” she said.
Vaya Bags can be bought pre-made or Meilinger can make a bag personally for the customer.
“We do a lot of unique custom things here,” she said.
In addition to being eco-friendly, Vaya Bags also tries to stay active in the local community by promoting other local businesses, sponsoring community events, and donating to the local YMCA.
“We’re a company with a lot of ethics,” Meilinger said. “It just really feels like a community.”