We interviewed Alexandra at her home in London.
Tell us about yourself. Where do you live, and what you do?
I live in Wapping in London, but originally I'm from Scotland on the coast.
I'm a design researcher, and I also swim.
What are you passionate about and what keeps you motivated?
New challenges both for the swimming and for the job. Always making sure that things are interesting and they make me happy. If something doesn't make me happy, I often change it quite quickly. I like to have a goal, a focus or a challenge to work towards. So, cold water swimming, distances, and trying new things.
Walk us through a typical day in your life?
Oh, every day is so different. A typical swim day, which are quite chill at the moment would be - I get up, get ready, make sure I have the right kit, and pack everything up slowly at my own pace. Then I'll take the long way to swimming, read a book, and go for a swim. I'll be in the water for as long as I can, as long as they'll let me, and as long as my body will hold in the freezing cold. Then I'll get out, get ready, continue to read, take the long way home, and then set myself up for the rest of the week.
Other days can look like the total opposite where I'll have family, friends, and other things all in one day. So I'll be up at 8am, get everything ready, have everyone over by 10am, be hosting until 12pm, then get everyone out to something we’ve booked, herding people around, planning trips. I like a good itinerary, so if there's anyone visiting, then I always hold the itinerary. Organising and showing people around London - those are nice days.
On a typical working day I'll often be working from home, and my job is speaking to people very often, so that's nice. I like to keep things calm and give myself breaks and not get too tired and then have a chill in the evening.
How did you first find out about Trakke?
I make sure everything I buy is either secondhand, sustainable or will last me my lifetime as much as I can.
I started looking at sustainable Scottish brands and I came across Trakke. I found their packing cubes and added them to a gift ideas list — so my brother asked me for something and I thought, "well, it would be perfect if he bought them for me as a gift." So I got three packing cubes and since then I've then got another one of the pouches for cables, and I also got one of the pencil cases for work.
I was also starting to get back into hiking, I'd been in London for a bit too long and I was missing the wilderness. I got a Sling bag because we were planning a big hike and I thought "having something to fit my water bottle and some other stuff without having a backpack would be great.” So I've ended up extending the collection, but that's how it started. My brother very kindly bought them for my birthday.
What Trakke bags do you have and how do they fit into your life?
I have the Foulden packing cubes. I use them any time I'm going to the gym or if I'm going for a swim or going hiking. Whether I’m going somewhere for a long or short time, if I'm going anywhere I need to take things that can go in compartments. I use them in some capacity basically every single day, even if I'm packing my cables up.
The orange ones I use for mostly soft things, and the objects that go inside them correlate with the size of each cube. So my swim gloves and swim boots or my wetsuit boots and gloves, they'll go in the medium size along with the hat and all the other things I need, whereas things like my goggles and my locker lock will go in the smaller one.
Then in my bigger one will be my towel and everything else. Similarly, if I was going on a longer trip a coat might go in the bigger one, and smaller things in the other ones.
I also have the black Laggan organiser for all my cables. Again, that's used everyday because I always forget my charger. The pencil case is mostly for just storing things at home, an organiser. I don't really travel with many pens. Often if I'm going to work there will be tons of Sharpies and Post-its and things available, so I try not to give other people an opportunity to take my pens.
If I'm not going somewhere where I need to use my packing bags, then I'm using my Sling bag because it works for me for everything. I can get water bottles in there, a scarf, an umbrella, my phone, my passport. It's been everywhere with me from going out for drinks or touring the family around London all the way to hiking in Wales.
If I'm going swimming then going out afterwards, the Sling is what I would take to keep all my belongings in one place. I have the toiletries bag as well, though I first thought it was too small. I got it anyway because I wanted something smaller and I actually found it was perfect.
What's important to you when it comes to adding a bag into your everyday routine?
It has to work for many uses and also fit inside other things I might already have. So the adaptability of something is really important.
What I really like about all of the Trakke packing cubes is they help to compartmentalise my bag so I know I can reach my hand in and take something out. It just makes everything easier because I will often be on the move and need to get something fast or need to double-check I've got something because I'm the most forgetful and clumsy person I know. I mean, going swimming, and forgetting a towel when it's below 6 degrees is just ridiculous. So being able to quickly check through things, using the zip rings to quickly pull a cube out of my bag is much easier than having to take everything out.
So having something that is well designed makes things easier. I thought I'd just use the packing cubes for hiking at first. And then when they became an everyday thing, that's when I thought, "right, it just makes sense to fill my life with Trakke now.”
Tell us something you're looking forward to in the year ahead?
I've signed up for my first-ever 5km swim. Whether it'll get competitive, I don't know, I'm trying not to think about that right now. I've never done distance swims. I also left my job to go contracting as a researcher, so that's exciting. I thought maybe the researcher thing would be my biggest thing this year. But I'm also planning a wedding and planning to move and buy a house. So I've left my job, getting married, buying my first house, and now I'm doing a 5K swim.
So yeah, there's a lot. I've ended up filling this year, which I thought was going to be really calm, but they're all amazing things. It's going to be a really happy year. And I'll be doing a lot of travelling so I'm going to need everything I've got to help me get there.