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MIND YOUR BUSINESS: Spotlight On: ME-2 Packs

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03.17.MindYourBusinessWhile this backpack is more about camping than campus, we thought that this new backpack company, ME-2 Packs, was the right person to track down for our Back-to-School Mind Your Business column. Currently hosting a Kickstarter campaign, Candace Spears is hoping to introduce her strap-free backpack to the region. A patented design, the ME-2 Pack redistributes weight from the neck and shoulders to the waist.

Rogue Valley Messenger: Was there an “a-ha” moment that you realized you either/both wanted to design a new style of backpack, and/or start your own business?

Candace Spears: There was an “a-ha” moment! After I survived a near drowning accident in 2010 in which I suffered a neck injury that later led to surgery of a double cervical fusion and discectomy. Now I cannot have weight on my shoulders. I cannot wear a seatbelt correctly or carry a purse, let alone a standard backpack with weight bearing down on my shoulders.

I was not content to accept that my hiking and backpacking days were over. I thought, “Why                                    can’t there be a backpack with no shoulder straps?” This frustration led to creation, which got my hike back!              

This pack has allowed me to continue with my life-long passion of hiking and enjoying the great          outdoors.

RVM: Do you remember the first sketch or drawing of the backpack? Was it on the back of a napkin?

CS: My sketch was on the back of the electric bill. I later got a sketch pad that I filled.

RVM: What is your business background?

CS: I really have no business background that transfers from the concept to a product. Going through the patent process, prototyping, and now venturing to a new Kickstarter launch on Aug. 19 has been exciting and scary.

RVM: What is it about southern Oregon that you think supports startup businesses?

CS: I have received support by the Umpqua Business Center and the SBDC of Roseburg through the Rain concept Competition as second place winner of $2000 and a virtual office space, advisors, and comradery.  Local businesses have also reached out to network, partner and be sponsors for ME2, such as Waldron’s Outdoor Recreation Store, the Loft of Roseburg for local entrepreneurs to gather and listen to monthly local guest speakers and our own rural Lookingglass Community general store. The greatest motivational support I have found has been from the Women’s Entrepreneurs of Southern Oregon in Medford, Oregon (WESO).

RVM: What is it about southern Oregon that you think might be an obstacle for success or growth in your business?

CS: Not having other professionals with the experience in smaller manufacturing and distribution.

RVM: Everybody needs some downtime away from their jobs. Is there an irony that you’ve perhaps created your recreation (hiking, climbing) as your business?

CS: No! I just got off the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) after hiking 32 miles with my good friend Shay in which we enjoyed views that regenerated each of us and made Shay say, “This view makes me understand that I am grateful, because I have enough, I have everything I need, and I am at peace.”

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