Lois and Don Olmstead
The PAJARO Field Bag was conceptualized by Lois Olmstead while sitting in her living room in Lafayette, California in 1995. Lois was looking to build a home based business on her longtime hobby of birding, which she'd been pursuing since 1972. She had struggled for years with how to comfortably carry a field guide which could be easily accessed while birding. She decided that the product she wanted to create was a bag which would carry books and other items for outdoor use. After mulling over the desired size and shape of the bag, plus the number and location of pockets, she took out a pair of scissors and began to cut up some brown paper bags, stapling and taping them together to create the first prototype. This was the birth of the Pajaro Original Field Bag.
Lois' husband, Don, who is himself an outdoorsman, quickly jumped on board and the two began creating and fine-tuning a business which they named Pajaro, Spanish for ‘bird.’ They spent hours searching for quality bulk fabric and used equipment, like the 1950's fabric cutter that Don still uses in their humble workshop in the back of their California family home.
Lois' love of nature sprang from the halcyon days of her youth spent exploring the hills, creeks and fields of Northern California. Family outings to the seashore and camping trips to the Sierras gave her a deep connection to nature. While her eventual role as a mother to five children kept her hopping for many years, she has always made time for birding.
Donald Olmstead was raised north of Chicago and had unlimited access to the prairie and the Illinois Forest Preserves. His love of nature began early with bicycling and walking in rural Illinois, along with canoeing in the northern waters of Wisconsin. His education led him to the West Coast and a Master’s Degree in Cartography at the University of Washington. Don works with every single bag that is produced. He meticulously cuts the fabric to size, and prepares the material before it is sewn together by their longtime friend and colleague, Hue, who lives and works out of her home in Tracy, California.
Don and Lois raised five children and now have six grandchildren. The two are inspired not only by nature, but by the love of their family, who have been very supportive over the years, as they launched and sustained the company. Their son Daniel helped to get the company exposure by creating a website for them during the dot-com boom, and other family members have helped with orders or lending a hand whenever needed.
Longtime customers know that over the years Lois and Don have offered a variety of bag styles, but they have narrowed down the product line to their favorite and most popular bags: The Original Field Bag, and The Grande Bag. Both bags were originally designed for birding, but are also popular as urban, travel, or pet bags. They also create bags for national and state parks and refuges as well as for environmental groups to be used as fundraisers.
Don and Lois Olmstead, far right, pictured with their family in Lafayette, California.