Products with Soul

Mokuyobi adds a splash of color to functional backpacks

By Olivia Dow 

Julie Pinzur saw a “hole in the market” for fun and functional backpacks, so she created them herself. 

In 2006, she founded South Pasadena-based Mokuyobi and splashed color all over the industry with her design of backpacks and other accessories. Soon she is opening a store in Downtown LA.

“My whole goal is to bring the ultimate mashing of fun and function together,” Pinzur says. “It actually works. It’s functional. It’s quality made.” 

With Mokuyobi, Pinzur designs bags, accessories and apparel, led by bold colors, magic and “awesome sauce” — and they’re all produced locally in LA. That’s been a priority for Pinzur.

“We make everything with local Los Angeles contractors,” she says. “We support our local community. That’s always been super important to me. I’m working with people who make the products. It feels very personal, which I like. I feel that creating a product with a soul means something, which is special.” 

Pinzur has been sewing and constructing bags for 20 years, and she created all of the bag samples. This connection, she says she believes, makes Mokuyobi special. 

“This way you can score bags, apparel, hats and patches that are not only seriously cool products but also make sense for your day to day,” she says.

“We definitely don’t aim to blend in. Color and usability are frontiers that we are always exploring. We enjoy taking a different approach to bag shapes, styles and palettes that haven’t been done before.”

The bright colors immediately have an effect on people, Pinzur explains. The products, whether it’s the citrus fanny packs or the colorful T-shirts, bring smiles to people’s faces. 

“When it comes down to it, everyone just wants to have a good time,” she says. 

Mokuyobi, or , means Thursday in Japanese. To Pinzur, Thursday is the best day of the week because there is “always something to look forward to.”

“Whether it’s Thursday, your buddy’s party, vacation time or a hot date, there are always good things coming that spark excitement,” she says. “We strive to create that same spark in you when your Mokuyobi package arrives.”

Mokuyobi’s bags hold everything one needs in an easy-to-access and functional bag. The choices are creative. Square mesh backpacks ($65 to $70) are creative, as are the new citrus fruit collection ($75), which puts a cool spin on fanny packs.

“I love the idea of your backpack being your on-the-go house,” she says. “It’s everything you need, all of your necessities for what you need when you’re not at home. You bring your style from your home décor and have it be fun and functional.”

All Mokuyobi bags and backpacks have lifetime warranty and a guarantee from manufacturer’s defects.

“We always are here to fix it for free,” Pinzur says. 

She loves to design her accessories, clothing and bags. The clothing is just as fun, with color-blocked T-shirts (starting at $46) and others that appear to have a splash of paint ($46). She says when she sketches the plans, she loves to see the drawing come to life. 

“I don’t overly focus on trends, I try to follow my heart in terms of construction and design and what I think would be helpful to offer someone,” Pinzur says. 

Pinzur is looking forward to opening a storefront in DTLA after working from her Pasadena office for years. 

“We are opening our first store in Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles,” she says. “That has been my goal since I started the brand. I’ve always wanted to have a real brick-and-mortar store.

“It’s been really fun to interact with customers, and even people coming from out of town will visit. It’s so exciting to have an actual store people can come to and they’re not walking into our office. It’s more of a professional store setting, which is really exciting for me.” 

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