We interviewed Thomas at his home office in Motherwell.
Tell us about yourself. Where do you live, and what you do?
I live in Motherwell, Scotland. I am a senior business analyst for Virgin Money, and in my spare time, I'm married and I've got two daughters, so they take up plenty of my time. I also run a small net label called We Are All Ghosts and I fiddle a wee bit with some graphic design and stuff like that.
What are you passionate about and what keeps you motivated?
What keeps me motivated is social justice. My wife runs a community centre in Bellshill, and one of the activities she has there is a lunch club for the elderly. I volunteer on Fridays at the lunch club and serve meals and spend time with the predominantly elderly people. I work from home, so I'm mostly on my own as both my daughters are out of the house during the day, so it's basically me and my two dogs. So, I desperately need human interaction and volunteering is really good for that, it really helps me.
Other passions include my family, and I'm rather passionate about photography and music. I love collecting vinyl, but I also love my bags and portage.
Tell us about places you like to travel to and why?
My wife and I love Italy. I'm trying to learn Italian which isn't easy. We love to go and relax on a beach holiday, but immerse ourselves in the culture.
The most recent time we were in Italy was for our 25th wedding anniversary. We spent a couple of days in Venice as well, and the best thing about it was travelling by public transport as the locals would do if they were going on their commute. I love to be in places that are special, but I also like to try to get off the beaten track and try to see a place from the perspective of the locals.
I think it's about getting outside of my comfort zone, getting out of Motherwell, trying to immerse myself in new cultures, new languages, and just trying to grow as a person.
It’s quite easy to go places where you're still in your comfort zone. I want to get out of that - I want to try to use the language, I want to try and fail. I'm a big fan of learning something that you're really bad at, just for the pleasure of learning rather than for any other purpose. As long as I can convey to the locals that I need tickets for the local bus, then I'm sorted.
That for me is what travel is all about, immersing myself and seeing new places with as fresh eyes as I can.
What Trakke bags do you own and how do they fit into your life?
I have the Kelso sling, the Wee Lug, the Hoy, and I have the Arkaig. I also have the Laggan, the Laggan Mini, the Dopp kit, the Pencil Case, the Lunch Bag.
To say I'm obsessed with Trakke at the moment is an understatement.
There's so much about Trakke that makes me happy.
How do they fit in with my lifestyle? Well, I'm going to say something really silly, but I love to have matching luggage. It was almost like the archetypal ultimate luxury to have matching luggage. That's always been a bit of a dream of mine.
Their products are great. They look good, they age well. The fact that they're made in a warehouse about 20 miles from my doorstep and that I can take public transport to pick up a new bag is phenomenal. I love their ethos, the sustainability, and that most of the products are vegan.
I love the idea that the bag is going to be something I can pass down as an heirloom.
"They all work for various elements of my life, my notebook, my iPad, various bits and pieces — my everyday carry items. And I love that I can take the pouches out of one bag and put them into the other and everything fits."
The bags that I have are all for specific purposes. The Kelso is obviously an everyday sling, I use it predominantly when I'm travelling. I've got the Arkaig for going to my office. The Hoy is brilliant for travelling. It fits perfectly under an EasyJet seat, it's just the right dimensions. I've managed to travel for a whole week using it.
Then you have the Wee Lug. The Wee Lug was the first bag that I bought. I got it as an indirect gift from my employer for 25 years of service. Thankfully they gave me vouchers rather than some cutlery or a carriage clock. That bag is a wee something that reminds me of a specific event whenever I take it out. I think, "well, that's for my 25 years of service."
Trakke’s overall quality is brilliant, from their bags to their customer service to their overall ethos… I want to support them anyway I can! I like that in some way I'm helping to support a local business doing something that is world-class.
Knowing we have a world-class maker of bags within 20 miles of my house is just phenomenal.
What's important to you when it comes to adding something like a backpack or other item to your everyday kit?
The superficial answer is I like them all to match. I'm looking for stuff that works but also makes sense from a design point of view. The Wee Lug has two bottle holders, it's a brilliant design. I've got my water bottle in one holder, my coffee cup in the other. It's things like that I'm looking for: intelligent, meaningful, intentional design.
The most recent bag that I got is the Arkaig. I was looking for something specifically for my work. I didn't want something too big because I didn't want to carry too much stuff, especially when going to work. It just fits everything exactly as I would want it.
Intentional design features are super important - the Messages Tote, which comes with me every day has really intelligent pockets, but also tiny wee carry handles. Somebody's thought about those carry handles and it makes it the best tote ever because somebody's thought the design through thoroughly.
Tell us something you're looking forward to in the year ahead that you'd like people to know about?
My eldest daughter is getting married in October, I’m really looking forward to that. I’m also looking forward to bringing my youngest daughter home from Nice, we’re going out to spend a few days there before bringing her home.
As for what I'm working on, I run an ambient music net label called We Are All Ghosts, it's been going for over 10 years now. We've had a bit of a hiatus over the last few months, and I'd love to start revitalising that in some way.
I also used to write about music and do reviews of albums and live gigs and stuff like that, but got out of the habit of doing it as I found myself focusing more on the review than the music. So, I'm looking forward to bringing that back, with a Substack newsletter where I want to focus predominantly on up-and-coming artists in genres I enjoy like ambient music, neo-classical, electronic, maybe some indie.
I just want to give some encouragement to lesser-known artists, get them noticed, and be part of that creative ecosystem.
Here's what Thomas has been up to since the interview...
"I remain at Virgin Money and really enjoy what I do … it is a great company to work for, one that continues to allow me to volunteer at the lunch club of my wife’s community centre (the Salvation Army in Bellshill) each Friday. My youngest daughter returned from Nice and is desperate to go back, we managed a 3-day trip easily with the Hoy (I just love how it fits easily under the seat of an EasyJet plane) … and my eldest daughter got married on the 20th October, 2023 … my Kelso was used on the day, it matched my kilt nicely.
I did manage to revitalise my netlabel, ‘Weareallghosts’, and apart from releasing some really vibrant music from some independent artists, we hosted a successful compilation of gentle ambient electronic music for Christmas, raising over £100 for Social Bite in doing so. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the newsletter off the ground but I am writing about music again … with a piece about Motherwell band, A Sudden Burst Of Colour, and their new album “Galvanise” in the works for Echoes and Dust.
And I still keep buying Trakke … picking up a Foulden tote in their in-person sale, the Gigha sling (which was perfect for travelling in Italy and Northumbria), and the new Dopp kit, which is simply fab (I love the toothbrush / razor holders on the outside)."