Native Baltimoreans Own Tote Bag Company in Fells Point
Ursula V. Battle | 11/25/2016, 6 a.m.
BALTIMORE Aaron Jones and Jason Bass are guilty of “treason.” They have defied the status quo by “going against the grain.”
Jones and Bass are the men behind Treason Toting Company. Located at 1714 Thames St., in Fells Point, the company specializes in domestically manufacturing backpacks and other high quality travel accessories.
Jones, 28, serves as the company’s production manager, while Bass, 36, serves as creative director.
“Jason and I originally met through our social circles and had worked on a project together,” recalled Jones. “We knew we wanted to start a company, but didn’t know which direction we wanted to go. We kept saying we wanted to commit treason by pushing in the opposite direction when someone told us we couldn’t do it.
"We also wanted to be big in Baltimore, but also be able to grow globally,” Jones added. “We had a desire to create things we absolutely loved, but with a different approach we couldn’t find in other brands.”
Like an ongoing ping-pong effect, Bass and Jones brainstormed and tossed around ideas about how they could tell the story of their brand, and in September 2013, Treason Toting Company was born.
The company makes their products using vegetable tanned leather, duck cloth canvas, and solid brass hardware. Their backpacks and accessories are named after streets in Baltimore and include The Charles, The Chase, and The Lexington.
“We are a leather accessory brand,” said Jones. “Today’s traveler is a multifaceted one of creativity, performance, and style. All of our bags are domestically-manufactured reaffirming our dedication to creating product truly born from where we come from.”
Treason Toting Company products are manufactured at City Garage in southwest Baltimore. City Garage is described as “Baltimore’s space for the entrepreneurial community to gather, collaborate and succeed,” and is located in Port Covington, a mostly industrial waterfront area. City Garage is the former South Baltimore bus garage, and was converted by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s venture capital firm Sagamore Ventures, which invests in startups and development.
“A video created by Shine Creative, a Baltimore-based production company, on our brand fell into the laps of Marcus Stephens, Plank Industries’ creative director,” said Bass. “Marcus reached out to Aaron and me about Port Covington with an interest in Treason Toting Company being a business in City Garage. We talked about the idea, then he thought we could possibly do more with Sagamore Ventures. He arranged a meeting with his partner, Demian Costa, and we explored ideas on what we needed to be successful. An agreement was made and the rest is history.”
Costa, is now an equity partner in Treason Toting Company.
“Aaron and I have always wanted to keep our business in Baltimore and help to create a positive shift in the city,” said Bass. “The newly formed relationship with Sagamore Ventures and Plank Industries makes that possibly a reality. We want to increase quality, production volume and points of distribution. With this team, anything is possible.”
Jones and Bass are both natives of Baltimore. Jones is a graduate of Northwestern High School, and attended the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. Bass is a graduate of Milford Mill High School, and is currently pursuing a master’s in business from the University of Baltimore (UB).
“We are looking to continue to develop our manufacturing capabilities at City Garage and sell wholesale on a larger scale,” said Bass. “We try to figure out what the need is, and find a solution. A bag is a bag, but how do you make it different? We collaborate, and come up with ideas of making our version of a product different. Business has been great.”
He added, “Treason Toting Company is proud to be from Baltimore and a part of Baltimore's ever-growing small business ecosystem. I hope that our story inspires more people to explore their creative passions, entrepreneurial ideas and lifestyle interests.”
Treason Toting Company is open 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Mon.-Sat. and Sundays from 11a.m. - 6 p.m. To view their productions or for more information visit www.treasontotingco.com