Black Entrepreneur Puts New Spin On Outdated Backpack Designs, Collaborates With HBCUs

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The Wearpack, a detachable front handbag and backpack merged into one with an adjustable shoulder and waist bag, was created by Chad Porter, a 23-year-old entrepreneur. It is lighter and simpler to carry because of its distinctive design. At North Carolina A&T, Hampton University, and Simmons College, three HBCUs, he already has exclusive alliances and license agreements.

When Chad, a Cleveland, Ohio native, was a sophomore at Ohio State University, he realized his dream of being an inventor, which he had had since the second grade. He saw that students were carrying more gadgets and fewer books around campus. He determined that change necessitated a departure from the conventional, heavy backpack.

“The world is changing, the way we learn is changing,” he told Cleveland.com. “With the need for technology, we need to innovate that daily accessory. I invented the first Wearpack in my dorm room my sophomore year.”After multiple drawings, the former engineering student set up shop in his room. “I learned how to use a sewing machine, sourced supplies on Amazon, and began prototyping. It went through various transitions. I only sold 300 units my junior year.”

He has since trademarked the “Wearpack” name. And he created the “ChVd Justin” brand using his first and middle names to make, market and sell the new product.

The business school student requested client feedback after the first 300 were sold. Ladies desired a Wearpack with adjustability. More padding, a water bottle holder, and reflective material for visibility at night were included in more recent incarnations.

Porter defined his target audience as college students using the concepts he was learning in his business classes. Bags started to be branded with university logos as a result. The Ohio State University, North Carolina A&T, Hampton University (Virginia), Miami University (Ohio), St. John’s University (New York), and Simmons College are the five Division I universities for which he has so far obtained licenses (Kentucky).

“In the process of working with universities we furthered our innovation,” he notes. “We’ve developed clear bags for fans to take through security at games. We also sell a four-in-one stadium product.”

Creating and selling a product was just the beginning of building a business. During his college years, Porter says, “I started studying different founders and different products – Ralph Lauren and Under Armour — to learn what was needed to build those companies.”

Using their early examples, he notes, “I figured out how to make the business happen without having a lot of money.”

After graduating in January 2022, Porter moved back to Cleveland. He’s been developing and making the product as well as seeking funds. In October, he received $25,000 from the Cleveland FutureLAND President’s pitch competition. He’s planning to spend the money on inventory and marketing.

 

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