Scarborough company scores with L.L. Bean product line

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SCARBOROUGH — For a small outdoor gear company, a partnership with one of the industry’s most well-known retailers seemed only natural.

That’s why Flowfold, which began on Peaks Island is now based on Holly Street, has partnered with L.L. Bean to sell an exclusive line of products, ranging from totes and duffle bags to wallets and passport organizers.

Flowfold, which was founded in 2010 by Charlie Friedman, makes gear ranging from backpacks to dog leashes using strong, but lightweight fabrics. The company’s website describes the products as “minimalist,” which means reducing waste and using less energy in the manufacturing process. 

James Morin, chief operating officer of Flowfold, said the company now has seven employees and sold more than 40,000 units of merchandise last year.

The featured products are in Bean’s signature olive green color and are available online. Morin said the products will be available at the Freeport store in November. And, like all Bean products, the items will come with a lifetime warranty. The prices range from $30 for a wallet to just under $100 for the duffle bag.

“It means a tremendous amount to us not just financially, but emotionally,” Morin said. “This isn’t just any wholesale account, it’s our big brother.”

This isn’t the first time the two companies have partnered. According to Bean spokesman Eric Smith, the company has been carrying some Flowfold products in retail stores and online for the past few years, and it made sense to do something exclusive.

“The biggest thing for us is that Flowfold is a local Maine company and local manufacturer,” Smith said. “We love supporting local businesses, especially when they have a product that fits in with our product line.”

Morin said the idea for this partnership came about jointly, with Bean initiating the trial.

“Since then it’s been an open relationship with great lines of communication,” Morin said. “We’re really working together.”

Smith said Bean partners with several small local businesses; Flowfold’s product line fits in, he said, by promoting a “healthy, active lifestyle.”

“Flowfold’s design and product line is very much about that,” Smith said. “That certainly fits in with L.L. Bean and fits in with the brand of the Maine lifestyle.”

Smith said the Flowfold products may be sold in other stores at a later date, although the details haven’t been finalized. He also said the length of time the products will be sold is still being determined, and whether to keep or change the olive green color will depend on sales. 

“We have high hopes for performance of this product,” Smith said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Charles Friedman is founder of Flowfold, a Scarborough company maker of lightweight outdoor gear.

Wallets are manufactured at Flowfold’s Scarborough headquarters.

Flowfold products sold through L.L. Bean are in the retailer’s signature olive green color.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.