“We’re 10 Years Young!” How Herschel’s Jamie & Lyndon Cormack Are Only Just Getting Started
In just a decade, siblings Jamie and Lyndon Cormack have revolutionized the backpack category with Herschel Supply Co. Named for the tiny Canadian town, which generations of their family called home, rich and impactful storytelling has been the heartbeat of the design-led lifestyle brand since day one. But the tale has only just begun in their eyes. The Daily Summer caught up with the Vancouver-based duo to hear what’s next.
Did you always know you’d launch something together?
Lyndon Cormack: I always say we were best friends first, brothers second, and business partners third. We always shared ideas back and forth about things we loved, things we saw, brands, objects, architecture, and places to go. It was quite natural starting a business together. We have complementary skill sets, but also different ones, and that helped when
there were just the two of us trying to get the business off the ground.
Tell us about Herschel, the town. What kind of place is it?
Lyndon: Our great grandparents immigrated there. Our father was born in the town and met his high school sweetheart, our mom, there and then they moved into the city. As kids, we got to venture back to Herschel to stay with our grandparents. It’s a hamlet with 22 people, but we saw so much opportunity. And coming from the city, when you can go to a town in the middle of nowhere and just explore and be kids, it was so much fun.
What is the founding and prevailing ethos of Herschel Supply Co.?
Jamie Cormack: It’s rare to find someone who’s as happy in the city as they are in the mountains, and that blend is what we wanted. The brand stands for our love of design, culture, and travel. We didn’t try to reinvent what the backpack stood for, we just reinterpreted what it looked like and put a heartbeat in the category.
Why the backpack?
Jamie: We thought that the bags out there, in general, were boring and nothing spoke to our generation. We needed a bag to call our own, with a “less is more” and “easy to use” mentality. Through our aesthetic, style, and point of view, we wanted something classic with a modern twist that was welcoming and approachable.
What was the exact moment you dreamed up the company?
Jamie: Lyndon and I talked a lot, and we kept aligning on the areas we could see holes in the market. It kept coming back to bags. We didn’t know exactly what [the brand] would look like, and we definitely didn’t know what kind of
roller coaster we were about to step on! The bag market had great luxury and great outdoor options, but nothing exciting and accessible in terms of a classic backpack. We thought we could do that, and tell stories. The more exploration
we did, the more natural it felt.
You often mention storytelling. Were either of you in advertising or editorial?
Jamie: We weren’t, but it’s a huge component. We have a deep-rooted love for photography, stories, and looking below the surface around yourself. We wanted to build the voice of the modern traveler— someone who is exploring the world without a tour guide.
You recently celebrated your 10th anniversary! What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Lyndon: The notion that bags were boring has been something that’s been our North Star since the beginning. The bags that we launched with, the vast majority of them, are still our top sellers, which is pretty crazy to think about—how much the first designs resonated. It’s been an awesome 10 years, but we have to remember that we’re only 10 years old. There’s so much more we want to accomplish. In terms of consistency—our future forward outlook—we know what we will deliver will be even better than the past. So we’re 10 years old, 10 years young! You ushered in new leadership this spring.
What are some priorities for this new phase of the brand?
Lyndon: We had the awesome opportunity to bring in our first CEO for the business; we’ve never taken that title ourselves. Jon Hoerauf comes from years at Arc’teryx, building amazing collections and presence. It’s a real opportunity to put him to work on something that he’s familiar doing—growing brands to be more purpose-driven and meaningful. Not just growth for growth’s sake. It’s early days, but we look forward to learning from him and watching him lead our team and brand.
Tell us about the Insulated Program category! How has it been received?
Jamie: The response has been phenomenal. We created the Insulated Program because we couldn’t find what we were looking for in the market—functional, lightweight coolers that stood out. We’ve done some insulated styles with brands like Coca-Cola and others over the years that were great successes, and this is a category we will continue to lean into even more—incorporating our unique creative lens and design-driven approach. We’re making it a little more fun. All the styles in the line are also built with recycled fabrics. We’re always innovating around ways to achieve more sustainable solutions to minimize our impact on the planet. This is crucial to our brand!
How does sustainability underpin the Herschel brand?
Jamie: It’s one of the biggest mandates on all departments here. We’re looking at different textiles and how we can have less impact overall as a brand. It’s a long road to get there, but it’s the right road and a path we’re committed to taking as a brand. It’s exciting!
What inspired your upcoming Put Yourself Out There campaign?
Lyndon: It’s this notion of people getting out of their comfort zone and finding the things that gives them butterflies, and doing them anyway. It’s a sentiment that’s been true to us since we started the brand. I moved to Melbourne when I was 18 years old and knew one person, and that experience has been one of the most rewarding things in my life—putting myself in an unfamiliar experience and running with it. This campaign is to remind people to try something that you might be afraid of. It can be as simple as saying hello to a stranger or ordering the extra spicy. Put Yourself Out There is the spirit of not being afraid to try new things; it’s the essence of our brand.
What does it feel like to see people out and about with their Herschel products? Do you stop and talk to them?
Jamie: I smile and I’m thankful! I’m proud of what we’ve done in the past 10 years. It’s always great to see Herschel in our own backyard here in Canada, but it’s especially inspiring to encounter it while traveling. To be far away from home and see the bags you envisioned out in the wild being embraced the way you intended—it’s special, and fun to know that what we’ve built truly resonates.
Lyndon: I was in Sydney walking along Bondi Beach once and I saw someone with probably the most beat-up Herschel bag I’d ever seen. I told him I worked for the brand and I’d never seen a bag so used. I offered to get him a new one. He was like, “Are you serious? You’re trying to take this thing away? It’s my prized possession!”
What’s your personal favorite product?
Lyndon: I’ve always carried a bag; it has such a useful purpose. We have a Packable Daypack that collapses into itself. Whether I’m going on a quick day hike or riding a Citi Bike around NYC, it just gives me that freedom to pack for a journey, while being prepared for anything that comes my way.
Jamie: I’m constantly switching my bags! Lately, I’m carrying our Heavyweight Canvas Bamfield tote a lot. It feels like I’m carrying more stuff these days, probably because I’m constantly collapsing and expanding a home office.
What will the next 10 years hopefully look like?
Lyndon: I think for the first 10 years, we kept our reins in tight. We had no shortage of ideas, but we had this notion early on that we could be famous for something by sticking closely to bags. Looking to the future, Herschel won’t be just a backpack brand; we’ll use that awesome foundation to continue to evolve and transform. Our sport is traveling. We’re going to continue to celebrate that and use the backpack as the backbone. We’ve kept the belt tight, now it’s time to let it expand.