local entrepreneurs

While being first to market is typically an advantage in Silicon Valley, Kerri Stenson (pictured left) of Woodside learned firsthand the pitfalls of being too early. Back in 2007, motivated by an entrepreneurial drive with an environmental bent, Kerri and a friend came up with the idea of packaging multiple reusable bags in a sack.

“I would say we were ahead of the times. Our customers were blown away by the product, but it was kind of an uphill battle,” she says. “We ultimately sold what we had and just let it fizzle, but I was a little heartbroken about it.”

Fast forward to 2014. Kerri is now publisher and editor of  Edible Silicon Valley, assisted by fellow Woodside mom/website and graphic designer Cindy Goldberg (pictured right). Both passionate users of Kerri’s original reusable shopping bags, they tracked the sweeping trend of disposable bag bans and drew the same conclusion: market interest had finally caught up.

“It’s part of the ongoing conversation now. It’s no longer either crunchy granola tree hugger or trendy,” Cindy says. “We used to write letters about plastic bag bans, and here we are. It’s happening.”

Thus, adds Kerri, “We decided to bring the bags back.”

Relaunched in April as Urban Market Bags, Kerri says the reusable bags are made of durable SUPPLEX® nylon, sport a fresh logo, vibrant gender-neutral colors and fit “phenomenal” amounts. Sold in packs of three ($30) or six ($40), they are also washable, and here’s the kicker: they fit into the cup holder of a car.

Urban bags in car

“You can’t even put the car in drive or park without seeing them, so that takes care of the forgetting the bags in the trunk factor,” says Kerri. Cindy chimes in: “It’s a solution to all of the problems: the forgetting the bags, the bulky bags, the ugly bags, the dirty bags, this is it. We really think this is the kind of product that will allow people to make a lifestyle change.”

Now that the timing is right, Kerri says the business is ready to scale. The Urban Market Bags website is up, and Kerri and Cindy have a warehouse doing shipping and fulfillment. Shoppers can find a display of Urban Market Bags for sale at Namesake Cheesecake in Menlo Park, but Kerri and Cindy are setting their sights on the national market.

“We’re thinking big. While we love the boutique aspect of these bags, this is a mainstream product,” says Kerri. “We definitely feel confident after having used it for so long that it is the reusable bag solution.”

Photos by Irene Searles

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