Cover Photo

By Tabby Hardman

Not only are Bindle Bags stylish and chic — but buying one
helps the homeless.

Frank Petricoin, a 19-year-old philosophy major and aspiring
social entrepreneur created the concept for Bindle Bags last fall.

The idea to start this business had been brewing in Petricoin’s head since junior year of high school and after taking introduction to entrepreneurship last semester with Dr. Paul Rogers, Petricoin was

enthralled by the concept that you can have your own business but help others
as well.

“I had always done coat drives and blanket drives when I was
a kid with my family but I was getting into the idea of entrepreneurship and I
decided I wanted to start some sort of small business that did some good,” said

He hopes to launch his business in the next few weeks. The plan is to employ homeless people to
construct—by hand– satchel like bags, in which the bags are then purchased
by a consumer.

The physical design of the bag is supposed to
resemble ‘the bag on a stick’ which as Petricoin explained, which old-school homeless people once carried.

“I am gearing this product toward the more bohemian shopper,
people who shop at Urban Outfitters, Anthropology, those who focus on the
meaning behind a product,” said Petricoin.

As each bag gets bought

the money earned is divided up—40 percent goes to the homeless individual who
made the bag, 30 percent goes to the costs an overhead to keep the business
afloat, and the final 30 percent goes to the company for promotion and

“The goal is to help them help themselves,” Petricoin says
of his homeless employees, “and dig them up from the rut they have gotten into—we
are not giving them a bag, we are giving them a job and showing them how to get
back on their feet.”

By working with Northern Virginia Family Services (NVFS), a network of homeless shelters and meeting with Karen Horowitz, the
director of NVFS, Petricoin has managed to work out a way for the homeless
individuals who will be employed by Bindle Bags to receive subsidized housing along
with professional training to ensure they will be capable of tackling the real
world one day.

“This isn’t meant to be a full-time career; this is a
stepping stone to get them started on their own life, and we are here to help
for that,” said Petricoin.

He registered with, a website
designed to gain financial support for those trying to make a difference,
and so far, has raised more than $1,000 from donations by his Facebook
friends and people he knows with hopes to be fully-funded by the beginning of

“This weekend I will be finishing my final prototype and
finding my distributor—once I have my distributor I will become fully
operational,” said Petricoin.

The projected price range for the Bindle Bag product is $20
for wallets and $50 for handbags.

Like most jobs which require a training day to learn the
ropes, Petricoin plans to do the same for his future employees.  “I have made three bags already and this isn’t a complicated
process,” he says. “The bag is made of four materials, duck canvas, a patterned cotton
liner, hemp webbing as the straps, and copper rivets to hold it all together—all
of which are assembled without stitching.” .

Eventually, Petricoin hopes this will become more than just

a small venture but a network and his livelihood. “I want to be able to make
money one day by helping others and doing something I love,” said Petricoin.