Vendor Spotlight Vol 49: SKUNK




We take you inside Skunk’s mission to create a truly odorless bag, which resulted in a line that exists at the interaction of design, technology, fashion and functionality.

Innovation ain’t easy. If it were, well, it wouldn’t be all that innovative, would it?

It takes a special kind of a person with a special kind of dedication and thought process to do something truly innovation. Dedication is probably the most important word there, because as much as innovation isn’t easy, it damn sure doesn’t happen overnight either.

The quest to be innovative and to bring something truly different and useful to the market is why we have Skunk today. This line of odorless bags — which includes everything from pocket-sized bags and travel cases to backpacks and large duffle bags — launched just last year, but it was born out of years of research and development. The need for Skunk had been kicking around owner Alise J.’s head even longer than that. He’s recognized it as a need for quite some time.

“Everybody in this industry, at some point has been dealing with the smell,” says Alise J. “We had a dream for a company that looks good and professional. It’s not something that’s cheesy looking. We want to be able to say, ‘Hey, we can make really amazing bags that might even look better than what you can get at an Apple Store.’ And be odorless.”

Alise J. has been in the smoking industry for 20 years now, starting as one of the Hookah Brothers, making hookahs and shishas and having great success at it. He then ventured outside of the industry and into fashion and accessories before being pulled back in as one of the owners of Vatra, a line of protective bags and cases that’s been alive since 1997 and has earned a sterling reputation.

While Vatra ( did well at creating bags and cases that smokers used and enjoyed, there was something still out there to chase: the odorless bag. That’s why Alise J. and his staff spent years searching for the right solution and eventually created Skunk (

This wasn’t just a quick spin-off, though. Alise J. is devoted to great design and technology that actually worked. There are plenty of “odorless” bags that aren’t quite odorless — and his line wasn’t going to be one of them. So his team started working on these bags in 2011 before finally bringing products to market in 2015.

The pillar of the Skunk line is the use of activated carbon, which is known for its powers of absorption. In this case, it works to absorb odors too.

“We went through factories in Japan, Canada, Mexico and the U.S., trying to figure it out, which actually works really well,” Alise J. says. “Not everyone works. We literally had to get different pieces from different places, test this way, then test it that way. It actually took years to figure out, how we make this really work?”

Through all this, he learned that many of the products on the market that claimed to be using activated carbon were either lying about it or not using nearly enough. Because their bags were not entirely odorless. Skunk didn’t want to make odorless bags that were great when you first bought them, they wanted to make bags that would stay odorless for the long haul. And, beyond that, Skunk’s ultimate goal is to create bags that are so odorless, they can pass a K-9 test.

“We finally figured out how to make the proper activated carbon that actually does what it’s supposed to do,” Alise J. says.

Once that was in place, the next goal was to create bags that actually looked good — being both functional and fashionable is important, right? That’s why Skunk aims to live at the intersection of design, fashion and technology, all with the smoking community in mind.

“We’re doing this in order to build long-term clientele and trust,” Alise J. says. “We have our own manufacturing that we control. We made everything ourselves. We’re not going to a third-party. We’re able to make it work and make it affordable.”

It’s an exciting time for Skunk right now. In July, the company unveiled its latest assortment of bags, which the Skunk braintrust expects to be a big hit. When the company launched last year, it was mostly smaller travel bags. Now, Skunk has unveiled four new lifestyle bags:

  • The Urban Pack, which is a very modern backpack available in three different colors.
  • The Roll Up, a large, roll-up backpack that has the modern customer in mind, with things like laptop pockets in its design.
  • The Hybrid Pack, a duffle/backpack crossover that could be carried either way.
  • The Duffle XXL, a large duffle bag that’s big enough to carry hockey equipment.

These will be making their way to customers this month, after being available for pre-order (check for details and order info).

“This is just the beginning, obviously,” says Alise J.

One of the next big steps is creating the bag that is 100% K-9 safe. That will require another layer of protection, but that’s why the innovator’s job is never done.

“Nobody was complaining,” Alise J. says. “But we wanted to make sure that in the long run, it’s even that much better.”

It’s obvious this is a topic he’s passionate about and not just a cash grab. He seems to genuinely enjoy the problem-solving aspects that go into creating something new, different and useful.

“It’s more than just smell-proof bags,” Alise J. says. “It’s the vision for the future. The dream is to have a supreme bag that covers all these areas. We want people to understand everything that is involved in this.

“I think,” he says. “We have something that’s really amazing.”

Innovating ain’t easy or quick, but when you put the pieces together and make the product that people need, that you envisioned, it sure is rewarding.



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