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Lo & Sons

Mom and business partner are one in the same for Derek (bottom) and Jan Lo (middle)—or at least they have been since Helen Lo, a hardcore traveler, realized that there were no stylish, lightweight carryalls out there for women. She appealed to her two sons for help, and, a year and a half of prodding later in 2010, she got them on board: Derek ditched his ad job, Jan left his product-design position, and the trio launched a collection of plane-ready bags that look good and work hard. “We didn’t set out to create a fashion brand,” Derek says. “We realized the need and created a product that was able to fulfill it. It’s purely functional at the center.”

Helen is at the helm, with Jan running design, production, and strategy, and Derek utilizing his marketing expertise to get the word out. But that’s just semantics. What makes Lo & Sons unique is their focus on human-centered design—a hip term for creating cool bags that really do make life easier. “Instead of producing a bag based only on what we think is great as designers, we do multiple rounds of prototype testing to see how the actual experience of using our bags can be more intuitive and useful,” Derek explains of their process—basically, the new version of kid-tested, mother-approved. —olivia seely