Traveling always poses a bit of a packing dilemma. What clothing can you bring that counts as both fashionable and functional? What shoes might feel comfortable after hours of sightseeing? And when it comes to the luggage itself, where are the stylish pieces that don’t have “tourist” written all over them but still offer all those handy travel-friendly features?
That’s where Lo & Sons comes in. The brand has a striking timeless elegance, but it’s the thoughtful design that makes it a standout—convenient laptop sleeves to pass through airport security with ease, interchangeable purse straps for added versatility and discreet pockets to keep things organized. They’re the kind of useful features that you don’t realize you’ve been missing all this time from your luggage, until suddenly you have them and then you’re spoiled for life. You’ll never be able to take a trip without these bags again.
“I wanted travel products, especially a companion bag, that was light and also smart-looking,” explained Lo & Sons Founder Helen Lo. She faced that all-too-familiar packing dilemma as she accompanied her late husband on his business trips. For her personal item, she wanted something bigger than a purse but still good-looking enough to whisk away to a meeting. Basically, she needed luggage that didn’t look like luggage, so in 2009 she started planning and created the kind of travel accessories she wanted on her own trips.
Helen, who has a PhD in social welfare administration, had moved throughout her life for her husband’s work as an astronomer. Every time she moved she would then reinvent herself, doing work like running a community health center or institutional research at a college. When the idea for Lo & Sons came up, she was in her mid-60s and had already retired—but she felt her past experiences adapting to new cities prepared her for yet another career.
“After all, how many 65 year-old women start their own business?” she laughed.
Of course, her sons are instrumental in making Lo & Sons a reality (they are, after all, the “Sons” in the brand name), and she admitted the company wouldn’t exist without them: Derek, Vice President, and Jan, the CEO. “I’m not as fast as them,” she said, “and I’m also not as well-versed with the laptop and all the new technology.”
But while Helen works to keep up with her boys when it comes to the technical side of the business, she has found that her age also served her well as an entrepreneur. Not only does she bring a certain amount of life wisdom to the table, but she encounters cultural differences where they do business (they currently have factories in Vietnam and Cambodia).
“In Asia, there’s a certain respect for age,” Helen said. “There’s always the challenge of being taken seriously as a woman, but age is an advantage in Asia. And that’s one of the reasons I made a point to travel to the factories.”
Today, Lo & Sons is more than just the companion bag that Helen set out to create. They have weekender bags, backpacks, crossbody purses and more, and the initial product ideas all get tested for their marketability. When they first started out, the brand tested with friends and family and would even sit at the airport to observe how travelers moved with their bags. Now, Lo & Sons has clients to turn to for input and inspiration. In fact, their latest bag, the O.G. 2, is a revised version of the O.G.,improved based on feedback from customer reviews regarding the laptop pocket.
It makes sense they constantly look for ways to make their products better. Doing something new and working to make changes—that’s the whole attitude Lo & Sons is built on, after all. “I would consider myself an expert in reinventing myself. I’ve done many different things,” Helen mused. “Maybe that’s what allows me to jump into this venture.”
Theresa Christine is a freelance travel writer based in Los Angeles, CA. You can follow along with her adventures by subscribing to her newsletter Delve here.