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In honor of Women's History Month, we're celebrating the innovator behind one of our favorite travel brands. Actor and entrepreneur Shay Mitchell founded Béis in 2018, with a goal to make products that are chic, functional, and affordable. Her popular line now includes both stylish luggage and bags suited for everyday use, no matter what's on your busy agenda. Condé Nast Traveler editors have been fans of the brand for years, especially the viral Weekender bag that you've likely seen all over social media—simply put, the thoughtful details and smart features incorporated into Mitchell's products will make your travels smoother. Aluminum Equipment Cases
I recently caught up with Mitchell to find out what inspired her to start a travel brand and ask her advice for parents on the go. She also shared what she's most excited about for Béis in 2023, including a few upcoming collections she can't wait to launch. Read on for all of that, plus Mitchell's own in-flight essentials and best-kept packing tips.
What was the inspiration behind starting Béis?
When I was growing up, I was obsessed with bags—makeup bags, purses, my mom's suitcases, my grandma's hat boxes, all of it. I've been very fortunate in my life to be able to travel to a lot of places from an early age and with that experience has come a lot of different suitcases and bags. Over the years, I've gathered these mental notes of what would have been perfect to have on a trip or what could have been better about the bag I was currently traveling with.
I began to think that I could create the product that I've always wanted for myself and that I think other people would enjoy. Nothing excites me more—I could talk about bags and zippers and all of it forever. It’s my passion.
When you started creating products designed for parents, was there something you felt was missing in the market?
All of the designs come from my experience. A lot of time I’m writing it or drawing it down on a napkin or whatever is near me at the moment. It started out with the Weekender—all I wanted was to have a bag that would allow me to separate my shoes from the rest of my clothes, so I drew it myself. The next idea came from my frustration with my bag always falling off my carry-on and everything inside spilling, so I made sure our Weekender had a trolley sleeve so it could easily attach to the handle of my carry-on. All of this continued when I was expecting my first child and I was looking to buy a diaper bag. I wanted something that didn't scream “this is a diaper bag.” I wanted something quieter, chic, and more versatile.
The fun and amazing part of Béis is that I can design things I truly want to use myself. That’s really how the Béis Baby collection came to be. And now as my kids are growing up, we designed a new Kids' collection that will be coming out this year. The Kids' collection is inspired by things I’m noticing now that my daughter Atlas wants in her own bags. It will feature new luggage and bags made for kids to make things like everyday activities, going to school, and traveling easier for both kids and parents.
This weekender was Béis’s first product, and a positive indicator of where the brand was headed. It is thoughtfully designed, from the overall look to the smart features: A trolley sleeve on the bag has a zipper so you can use it as a pocket when you're not attaching to a suitcase. A second exterior pocket is large enough for a phone and other small essentials, and the bottom compartment keeps shoes or dirty clothes separate.
What women do you look up to for business advice and inspiration?
My mom is my superwoman. I’ve always looked up to her and seen what she’s been able to do, and that gave me the courage to start this business.
Also, my team of women that work beside me. I learn so much from them each and every day. I read in a book once that you should hire people that are smarter than you and that’s exactly what I’ve done. They’ve allowed me to learn and adapt so quickly. When the pandemic hit, we had to think about changing the trajectory of our brand. We didn't want Béis to be something that people only think about when they’re buying a plane ticket. We’re not just hard luggage, we’re the on-the-go travel brand for anything–if you’re leaving your house to go to the grocery store, we have produce bags for you, if you’re headed to the gym, we have a gym bag for you, and if you’re going on a walk and want a sling bag that will hold your water bottle, we have that, too.
I wouldn't be able to do all the things we're able to do so quickly and so well if I didn't have this incredible, pretty small team with me.
If someone’s unfamiliar with Béis, what must-have products would you recommend they add to their collection?
Our core items like our Carry-On Roller, our Weekender, and our Cosmetic Case. I've tried and tested every carry-on on the market and ours stands out because of the important small details, like our cushioned handle. When I’m running from one side of the airport to another, that comfortable cushion on my heavy suitcase makes a big difference. It also has a built-in weight indicator—when you lift up the bag, it will turn red if it’s over 50 pounds.
Our Weekender was my first baby that I designed— it’s just that perfect bag that I can fill to the brim. Another favorite product of mine is our Cosmetic Case that features a handy mirror that stands on its own. There's also a separate brush compartment to keep makeup brushes organized.
What’s one Béis product everyone should know about?
We added a hidden water bottle pocket to our Sport Sling bag. In the past, I’ve had to hold my water bottle when I’m wearing a fanny pack on a hike, but I want to be completely hands-free. The material of the hidden pocket is stretchy and durable enough to actually hold my water bottle while walking.
I really do listen to what our consumers are asking for. I read our feedback on our website and all of the comments on our social media. Do I think it's healthy? Probably not. But do I like seeing what people are saying? Absolutely. That two-way street of communication is so helpful—we use their advice and their own experience to improve our products.
This also helps inform our new collections—like our spring color collection that’s coming soon. It will include hard-side rollers, weekenders, and cosmetic bags in fun sherbet colorways like citron, orange, and lavender.
Any tips for overpackers looking to stay organized while traveling?
Step one: Never pack the night before. There’s no need for the added stress—packing in advance will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed before you travel.
Step two: Take photos of your outfits. Put aside some basics that you know you can mix and match with multiple outfits. I like packing versatile basics like white T-shirts, a white button-up, a leather jacket, black boots, and a classic pair of heels. Then, when you’re on your trip you don’t have to waste any time figuring out what to wear. What’s worse than realizing you carried around an entire suitcase of clothes and accessories that you didn’t touch?
Do you have any tips for new parents traveling with their baby for the first time?
I highly recommend packing cubes. I have separate packing cubes for each of my kids, Atlas and Rome, and it makes life so much easier. Instead of having to open the suitcase and sort through which items are Atlas’s and which are Rome’s, you can just grab the right packing cube and I know exactly where everything is and what belongs to who.
What’s always in your carry-on?
I have been stranded so many times from either missed flights or cancelled flights, so I pack everything from snacks to makeup wipes to lip balm to hand lotion. I bring plenty of moisturizer to keep my skin hydrated, especially when I'm traveling to different climates.
For longer flights, I like to wear a pair of compression socks, a neck pillow, and an eye mask always (great for the plane, but this also comes in handy if your hotel doesn’t have room darkening curtains). I also always have our Comfort Kit with me—a clear travel case that includes two soft, adjustable face masks, our Hot Mess wipes that are ideal for wiping down your plane seat or tray table, a hand sanitizer, and a No-Touch keychain that can be used to touch surfaces like elevator buttons or doors for you. I also always bring my gua sha with me to give myself a quick lymphatic massage when I get to my destination.
It’s only natural that we bloat or experience some swelling on a flight, so I make sure to stay hydrated. I drink HydraLyte daily—electrolyte tablets that can be added right to your water—but especially when I’m flying. I also always travel with dandelion tea: It reduces water weight, detoxifies the liver, and helps reduce inflammation in the body.
What are you most excited about for your brand in 2023?
It’s very exciting when you get to work with a brand or a company that you are really proud of—especially when that means joining forces with another woman. Revolve’s chief brand officer Raissa Gerona is one of my closest friends and it’s amazing that we have Béis being sold on Revolve. It's so awesome that we can come together as two strong, independent women who can learn from one another and support one another. We’re working on a bunch of fun things together this year and it’s really exciting.
Being surrounded by all these strong, encouraging, and supportive women that are not only my friends but just incredible business women is really amazing. To be able to partner and work with them on projects and upcoming things that you're both excited for is really great. I absolutely love everything I work on and that’s something I’m very grateful for.
Read more interviews with some of our favorite women in travel:
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