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Beyond backpacks: State Bags co-founders help kids in need

State Bags co-founders help kids in need

Companies may nod to the idea of "doing well by doing good" — at State Bags, that credo is core to its business.

Scot and Jacq Tatelman founded the maker of stylish backpacks and other bags in 2013 out of a shared wish to help needy children. That same passion also fuels the company's success, and has sustained the husband-and-wife duo through the ups and down of running a small business. 

State Bags donates a snappy backpack pre-stocked with school and other supplies to kids who may not have a bag or lack the resources to buy one. Bags are distributed through partnerships with celebrities including Beyonce, Chance the Rapper and Jessica Alba, as well as through other channels.

"It's not just about a material handout," said Scot, who's background in the camp industry opened his eyes to the many local children who he saw carrying their belongings in ripped trash bags. "It's more about getting them thinking about beating the odds that are often stacked up against them."

That sense of mission has been crucial in keeping State Bags, which is based in Brooklyn, New York, on the right track. "There have been so many times where the two of us have just looked at each other and said, 'Is this still worth it?'"Scot told CBSN. 

"It's just so hard to keep this going and the stress levels and everything else. But we can never let go of the passion we have had from the very start that helps fuel this whole thing," he added. 

Getting by giving

Another key to the couple's success: Figuring out how each could function best in the business. Early on, as the couple was building the brand, Scot was the CEO. But it was a role he never felt comfortable in. Instead, he prefers leading the company's philanthropy efforts, calling himself State Bags' "Giveback Guy."

"In my heart I knew I wasn't the CEO Type — like, I wasn't a numbers guy, I wasn't the big financial planner and I didn't have the business brain, and Jacqueline does," he said of his wife. "That's why I'm proud to say that my title is co-founder and 'Giveback Guy,' because I believe what we're doing on the charitable side and what we do with our mission is unlike any other brand."

Giving back, in short, gives the Tatelmans the drive to keep going. "We've not only donated hundreds of thousands of bags across the country, but we've inspired kids in ways that I believe is really unique," Scot said. 

"People come to us and say, 'You know, we need help, can you help us? And we can say yes.'" 

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