Farsik Supply: Made in Victoria, British Columbia
Farsik Supply, owned and operated by Mike Zinger, is dedicated to the Made in Canada label found on all the bags he produces. We stopped by Mike’s little workshop on Vancouver Island to learn more about him, his company, and what we can expect from Farsik moving forward. Find photos and an interview with Mike here…
A few weeks ago we published my visit with Wildwood Cycles, which included an interview with the owner and frame builder Jesse Hildebrandt. During my time with Jesse, he told me about the work he’s done with Mike Zinger of Farsik Supply, and as luck would have it we ended up meeting up the next day. Farsik, owned and operated by Mike Zinger, is a Victoria, British Columbia-based bag maker that specializes in bar bags, hip packs, and accessories. Currently, Mike is operating out of a small workshop on his family’s hobby farm in the small coastal town of Metchosin, just southwest of Victoria. I stopped by Farsik’s workspace for a quick visit to learn more about Mike, his business, and his plans moving forward. Find photos and an interview with Mike below.
Before Farsik you were a professional photographer. What kind of work did you do?
I was, and still am, a commercial and editorial adventure sports photographer and filmer. I grew up shooting BMX, which gravitated to mountain biking and cycling. I’m pretty inspired by many different genres of photography, but most of my work has consisted within the realm of bicycles. Before the pandemic, I was hoping to shift some focus back to shooting, but for now Farsik has been pretty full on. If you’re interested in checking out some of my photo work head over to MikeZinger.com.
What turned you on to bag making?
Bag making was definitely not something even remotely on the radar of things I had planned to be doing. But if you’re a photographer or filmmaker, you know the importance of a good bag. It doesn’t take you long to become an unintentional bag nerd. Obsessing over every feature, from the material, pockets, straps, and the zippers… so many bad zippers.
I’ve always loved making things and tinkering. I started by making little pouches and things to help organize my gear, or bags for my bike, and it evolved from there. Not to mention I’ve had some downtime from kidney surgeries and procedures in the last year, so that kept me from being as active as I’d like. Fortunately, it helped me focus on my sewing skills and Farsik more.
What’s the story behind the Farsik name?
Farsik comes from farsickness. Think the opposite of homesickness. I spent ages trying to come up with a name, wanting something core or “edgy” that is easily brandable, and with minimal social media presence. But I ended up randomly coming across a pinterest post with a quote for the German word “Fernweh” describing a farsickness or longing for unseen places and the craving for travel.
What have been some of your best selling items this year? Do you think that will change moving forward?
The Handlebar bag has definitely been the best seller. So much so, I can’t make them fast enough, which unfortunately delays everything else. I think they will always be a popular item no matter the type of rider you are.
Tell us about your family’s hobby farm and the area you call home.
My folks have this little three-acre hobby farm just outside of Victoria in rural Metchosin, which happens to be where I’ve been commandeering a little shop space behind my dad’s art studio. Surrounded by trees, a stones throw from the beach, and an assortment of animals. I think growing up here I took it for granted, and probably still do. Being into BMX, I wanted nothing more than to move to a big city, but Victoria and Vancouver Island in general is a hard place to leave. Even when I was traveling more, it was always the best place to come back to. Now I enjoy being out here, and would love to build a second house and new shop. The property needs a lot of work, but I’d love to see it restored to its full potential—a place for people to come and enjoy.
You’re among a relatively small group of Canadian bag makers. How important is Made In Canada to you?
I think my obsession with products made in North America comes from supporting BMX brands that were made in the US like S&M, FBM, Solid, Profile, etc., early on. They were always far superior and got me more stoked to go out and ride my bike everyday. In fact, they still do.
I’m excited to see the “Made in Canada” movement finally growing in Canada. It’s still a struggle trying not to rely on the US for almost every step of the way, but with things like COVID-19 and the low Canadian dollar, more people are shopping closer to home. You’re seeing a rise in makers in every industry. People are buying and making more products that are built to last. Ultimately, it’s helping reduce consumer waste, and that’s exciting to be a part of.
How has COVID-19 impacted your personal and work life?
I lived a pretty isolated life before the pandemic, so I didn’t need to adjust as much as some people. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a space I can keep working in. I did have to change some suppliers and materials, and have been dealing with countless shipping delays. Overall, I think I’ve had it pretty good compared to some other bag makers, so I can’t complain.
Farsik is already teetering on being financially sustainable on a good day. It was a little grim at first. But it seems like more people are out on bikes than ever before and now it’s hard keeping inventory in stock. I’ve been working 10-12 hours days, 7 days a week.
As for my personal life, my partner lives in San Francisco. With the US/Canada border closures, that has definitely been the biggest impact for me. Something as simple as two-hour flight isn’t really an option anymore.
Favourite trail on Vancouver Island?
Does Vic West Skatepark count? I don’t get out on the trails very often. I only have my BMX and road bike right now.
What can we expect from Farsik moving forward?
There are various versions of how I’ve pictured Farsik moving forward. At its core I hope to move into a bigger space, invest in new machines, and release new products I’ve been working on. Ultimately, after years of working with clients in the bike industry as a photographer, I strive to practice and promote the change for diversity, equality, and inclusion within the cycling industry as Farsik grows.