Behind a set of saloon style doors in a corner of Birmingham’s Oasis Market lies ‘The Co-Lab’. This store is hand built from wood and chipboard and stocks wares from the likes of ‘House of Livin Life’, ‘Humeaimart’ and, most notably, ‘Goodstart Jones’.
Both the Co-Lab and Goodstart Jones are the brainchild of entrepreneur Paul Jones. Paul started off designing footwear, and then bags for other brands when he came up with a ‘crazy’ idea for a personal design project: why not simply stick wood on a bag? Paul began developing the brand in 2013 and made the leap to becoming a limited company in 2014.
The brand name came about through the belief that each piece created is ‘a good start’, and that there is always room to make improvements to take each bag to the next level.
“The ‘Goodstart” is a starting line… It’s only the beginning.”
The pivotal piece for the Goodstart Jones brand is the practical and durable ‘Woodsack’: a compilation of memory foam, 3-inch foam and 18 Cardura fabric, and of course the iconic 6mm plywood panel. The plywood panel isn’t just purely functional, it’s also customisable. Using vinyl stickers, paint, laser cutting and even bulldog clips, the panel can be transformed to make the bag even more individual.
The Woodsacks are described as ‘a manifestation of practicality, durability, and individuality for the social urban adventurer and cultural explorer’. The style of a Woodsack is classic and contemporary. It has a consistent aesthetic but will go with anything.
Woodsacks are available in 12 colours, but the designs are constantly evolving. No two batches of Woodsacks are the same as each line has identifiable tweaks. One of the first bags he made was sold to a friend of Paul’s and then later bought back so Paul could become the owner of an original, one of a kind burgundy Woodsack.
Paul credits the materials he uses, and his time spent designing accessories for other brands as influences, but he identifies the world as his richest source of inspiration.
“Have you ever taken a walk outside? My gosh, you can get inspired by anything.”
The ideal Goodstart customer is creative to the core and appreciates the art of construction and quality. They are “The kind of people who want to put something different out into the world, those are my kind of people.”
In the future, Paul hopes to continue developing the Goodstart brand as well as continue his commitment to supporting creative independents.
“I’m staying true to what I’ve said I’m going to do with the brand; always doing better, and always starting something new.”
Photography by Will Pace.