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Marcos and Paz Mafia, a brother and sister team, launched their eponymous, recycled sail bag company in Argentina in 2012. The brand is going strong in countries throughout South America, which is a good thing for sibling relations, because Paz left a job in banking to go into business with her brother. Now, they're ready to grow even more. So the Mafias have brought their bags to the U.S., making San Francisco it's new headquarters. Lucky us!
As a professional kite surfer in Argentina, Marcos got the idea to create bags when he found he was storing a bunch of kites that were too old to use for surfing, but still colorful and strong. He quickly discovered there were also windsurfing and boat sails languishing in storage facilities, and the idea for Mafia bags was born.
"Contrary to fashion, we believe in long-lasting products," Marcos says. "Therefore all of our products have a lifetime warranty." Luckily, Mafia presents the best of both worlds: the bags are also totally stylish. We're loving the white sail fabric contrasted with bright red, orange and blue. The Mafias are launching their U.S. business with a Kickstarter campaign where you can pre-order your bag now. Pledge as little as $5 and get a zip pouch (perfect for makeup), or $95 for a backpack, and up to $5,000 for a whole collection of bags and wallets. Keep reading for our interview with Marcos, who landed in SF just two months ago.
When did you start the bag company in Argentina and is it still going strong there?
"We launched Mafia in October 2012 in Buenos Aires. On my kite trips, I managed to position the brand in Chile, Uruguay, Peru and Brazil. Mafia is working to its full capacity in Argentina and we have the best team getting great products coming from each sail."
Why did you choose San Francisco (yay!) for your U. S. headquarters?
"San Francisco is the perfect combination of design culture and water sports. It's the blend that makes this city so special—at least for me."
When did you arrive here and what neighborhood do you live/work in?
"I arrived in San Francisco two months ago. I live in outer Richmond and work in Inner Richmond. Being close to the ocean was a must to take this decision."
Have you discovered any favorite shopping spots yet?
"I love to shop used stuff—things that have a story behind them and are great quality. I also enjoy going to design and museum stores, where hopefully we will be seeing our bags shortly."
Do you still kite surf? Where is you favorite place to go in the Bay Area?
"I am really into kite surfing and the Bay Area is a great place to practice wind sports. I love going to Ocean Beach or south in Santa Cruz. Being here also helps me be in closer contact to my sponsors—Liquid Force and Reef—whose headquarters are based on the West Coast."
Where do you get your sails/kites from?
"We get the sails from sportsmen around the U.S., who have their old sails standing in their garage and might otherwise end up as landfill. In gratitude for donating their sail we give them a free Mafia bag made from their own sail. Sailors can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is Mafia in any SF stores yet?
"Mafia will be in several stores around the Bay Area by October 2014. At the moment you can personally check the bags and how they are made in our U.S. headquarters on Clement Street."
What is your general impression so far of San Francisco?
"San Francisco is an amazing city. Every day is a good one. I get to meet the best people who would love to see Mafia succeed here."
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Mafia Bags [Official Site]