There was a time and a place for a 90’s camcorder bag. And that time and place are: museum of 90’s kitsch now.

But lemme rewind.

I waited on Ben Liberty.

And waited.

Occasionally I’d email, but he was a bit of a Luddite and not a big fan of Email. (I loved him for that, too.)

I’d call. We’d chat. I found refreshing that he had no sense of urgency. I mean that sincerely. (Except also? This is NYC and well dontyourealizethatmyfateisinyourhandsandIwantedthisdonelastmonth?) But seriously: he was a craftsman and an artist who made no apologies for the time he took.

And remember back when I quoted Ben saying, “If Mrs. Herrera calls, I drop everything for her.

Whelp, Mrs. Herrera called.

And then Ben was on vacation.

After that, Ben threw out his back.

And then he told me, “This is a bit of a beast I’m having to put together.”

Then it was November and holidays were upon us.

So much for my pipe dream of being manufactured in time for Black Friday sales.

The two and a half weeks he estimated turned into two and a half months.

Finally, during the first weekend in December, he emailed me some pictures. “Success!” was all it said.

I opened the email and stared at the pictures.

Crest-fallen, I stared at the my slick “diaper bag for stylish dads” looking like a 90’s camcorder bag. It was boxy and bulky.

And consequently I looked like this:

Hopefully the pictures morphed everything – the color, the boxiness, the…everything.

I called him first thing Monday morning and invited myself over.

The moment he opened the door, Ben said, “I know. I’m disappointed, too. It’s too boxy. It doesn’t look sexy. But I can tell you there’s one main problem and it’s easily solved: you picked the wrong material. You need to choose something lighter. Like nylon.”

Ugh. I slapped my forehead. Remember Howard, the Italian importer? He said to me, “You’re gonna come back here asking for nylon. I’m telling you. It’s the future. And it’s the 80’s, again.”

And Howard’s one of those smug guys you just don’t want to prove right.

“But there’s good news,” Ben continued. “I think your design really works. It really, really does. Now, I had to do a lot of problem-solving. It wasn’t easy to render a 3-D model out of your sketches. But I think I did it. And…

I think you designed something really good.”

And then,

“That’ll be forty-five hundred dollars.”

Jiggawhat?

Not only had it taken ten times longer, but it also cost 3 times what he’d originally quoted.

I was part furious, part inspired, and lots dejected. I had what was, in theory, a beautiful concept bag, but in reality wasn’t beautiful at all..

I strapped the downright embarrassing $4500 camcorder bag to a Citibike and rode home.

(Keep reading chapter 10 when I walk into a world that I prayed was definitely not a NYC sweatshop.)