Ever since I was little I have been driven by creativity, I have always loved to create things, mostly with my hands but also digitally.
I got into BMX bikes because of some classmates in elementary school and fell totally in love. It feels crazy that something you started doing at 10 years old made such an impact on your whole adult life.
It was just something about it, everyone had their own style and tricks and the whole thing about expressing your creativity through the bike really got me hooked. I spent most of my teenage years in skateparks with my BMX friends.
In High School I studied Industrial Design, something I got into super fast, it gave me a lot of new tools to explore my creativity, everything from 3D modeling and printing to programs for graphic design and photo editing.
Erik Lindgrens 116 Bike Shop was like the central hub of the whole bike scene, everyone met up there, which led to me meeting some bike messengers and getting curious. Getting paid for flying through the city on a bike?
Sign me up!
Time as a bike messenger
I worked as a messenger on the streets of Stockholm, Sweden for 4 years. And in the same way BMX grabbed a hold of my heart, so did this.
To start with the work itself, it was this feeling of freedom, and yeah, we obviously had to go to the correct addresses to deliver and some people would argue that is not free at all. But I always had this feeling that Stockholm was our city, we knew every street and intersection, floating on top of all the traffic, nothing could stop you.
And then we have the people, this feeling of community. It didn’t matter which company your fellow messenger friend worked for, we were like co-workers even if the companies technically was competitors.
I always had the feeling that no matter how challenging and less fun the job got, it was never the job itself that sucked, always outside factors like weather, punctures or hangovers.
I remember one day in particular, because it was the day that led to me starting my own bag company.
It was a wet and cold November day in 2017, the coldest kind of day, the kind of day where your socks are wet from you start in the morning until you get off work next Friday… I was hauling these envelopes around the inner core of the city, really easy and well paid deliveries or “Smör” (butter) as we call them.
Just before the last drop the bag I had then gave in to the almost zero degree rain and started leaking, the last envelope got wet.
The first ideas of THLP is born
I never really liked that bag, found all the features really weird, so I looked around for another one that fit my requirements for the longest time without luck.
So this was my call, I figured that if no one is making what I want I have to make it myself, and that’s where THLP Bags first started.
After breaking all the needles on my moms old domestic sewing machine I found a really old second-hand industrial one on the “Swedish eBay” Blocket, got some materials from a local dealer and I was off!
I was so stoked, finally a design that was mine, a bag exactly as I wanted it. I laugh when I think back on my first bags and the stitchwork on them. Raw edges, stitches through the lining and super bad layer design was just some examples.
I was so psyched to get the bags together I didn’t really give the structural design any time at all, I figured it out as I went, but after 3 prototypes for myself I kind of realized I wanted to keep exploring this new interest and maybe even make my bags available to buy for other people?
With that in mind I had to step my game up, and the first bags I sold (to my old employer) was surprisingly good.
I kept working part time as a messenger and started to slowly scale up the THLP work.
The name THLP Bags
Now you ask yourself, what the hell does THLP stand for?!
It is hard to pronounce, hard to remember and may not seem like a name you name your small company after.
So now to the explanation, THLP is named after a really far-fetched inside joke between me and a group of my friends.
This group of friends all worked at the same messenger company as I did, we quickly became friends and spent a lot of time outside of work.
Our dispatcher Jonas at work always told a ton of old quotes over the radio, especially while he was thinking and didn’t know what to say. One of them that he said more than the others was “Tjena hej leverpastej” or directly translated “Hello Hey Liver Paté” which we also started to use, and eventually shortened it down to THLP. Yeah I know, still not enough to name your company after, we are not done yet.
Erik from 116 Bike Shop hosted a scavenger hunt group competition (Inte en alleycat) and we signed up as a team and needed a name quick, we picked THLP and rushed out to collect as many points as possible. After a while we got closer to the last ones and there it was “get a group tattoo – 500p per tattoo”
We went out to a messenger colleague and did some really sketchy tattoos of a pair of bib shorts with THLP written on them.
A year later when I needed a name for my company I wanted something that was fun for me, and I already had it in my leg, so THLP BAGS became the official name.