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Packing away a quality education: Sydney Paige Inc. gives free backpacks to needy children

January 08, 2014|By Tim Traeger, tim.traeger@latimes.com
  • Sidney Page Inc. founder and CEO Courtney Brockmeyer shows off student backpacks she sells online from her home in La Canada Flintridge, on Friday, January 3, 2014. Brockmeyer launched her company last month and for every backpack bought, she donates a similar one, with additional school supplies included, to disadvantaged children.
Sidney Page Inc. founder and CEO Courtney Brockmeyer… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

Courtney Brockmeyer wants to make a difference, one backpack and one child at a time.

The former Nestle executive quit her six-figure job on May 31 to start a company named Sydney Paige Inc. that, not unlike Toms Shoes or Patagonia, gives back to its customers.

The idea is simple. Buy a Sydney Paige backpack for $40 to $60 and Brockmeyer’s company will donate a similar backpack filled with school supplies to a needy child.

The business model hasn’t made all that much money since the La Cañada Flintridge mother of two began her company in December. But that isn’t her main priority.

“We believe that everyone should have equal opportunities to learn and thrive in school,” Brockmeyer, 38, said. “By giving low-income youths the tools they need to go to school and the confidence to help them stay in school and graduate, you will have helped them break free from the cycle of poverty … one child at a time.”

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She said the company, named for her two daughters, Sydney, 7, and Paige, 8, remains in the red, supported for the moment by her husband Dale’s job at their former mutual employer.

“I’m not making a lot of money. I’m making a lot of debt,” said Brockmeyer. “But that’s what entrepreneurs do. Luckily my husband is successful at Nestle.”

The La Cañada native said she was excited with the prospect of meeting and talking to retail giant Sport Chalet in the next few weeks.

“That would be huge, getting into their retail market,” she said.

Her company plans to give away between 400 and 500 designer backpacks to needy children at an event Jan. 19 in San Marino to benefit Bienvenidos Children’s Center programs across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Although her company doesn’t have any paid employees — yet — Brockmeyer said about 25 people have stepped up and donated their time to get Sydney Paige off the ground. The company also sells children’s books and motivational tags that say things like “Hope,” “Respect,” “Acceptance” and “Creativity.”

One of those volunteers is Ann Wohlstetter of San Marino, who Brockmeyer credits with getting Sydney Paige off the ground.

“I couldn’t have done it without her,” Brockmeyer said.

Wohlstetter said Friday it’s been her pleasure to help because she believes in the idea.

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