It's back-to-school season. That means once you've stocked up the kids on all of the highlighters, ballpoint pens, and notebooks they need, you also need to find some fun stuff to ease their transition back into the classroom.
Below is a sampling of some of this year's must-have back-to-school products, from companies that topped this year's Inc. 5000, an annual list of the fastest-growing, private companies in the U.S.
Full Circle Home: Reusable Snack Bags
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 544 | Three-year growth 811% | 2018 revenue $31.6M
New York City's Full Circle Home makes sustainable home-care products, and is making its sixth appearance on the Inc. 5000 this year. Founded in 2009, the certified B-corporation has focused on products made from eco-friendly materials like petrochemical-free plastic alternatives and glass. Its BPA-free snack bags, pictured above, come in colorful designs and patterns, and a pack of two bags costs $6.99. There's also a design-free version if you want to write in your own food descriptions or instructions. (Chew carefully?)
Dibsies: Customizable Lunchbags
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 1292 | Three-year growth 318% | 2018 revenue $4.3M
To carry all of those snacks, you're going to need a lunchbag. Six-year-old Fairfield, Ohio-based Dibsies offers customizable and insulated bags, ranging from $19.95 to $35.50 apiece. The company, named for the way kids call "dibs" on things they want, also sells gear like backpacks and nap pads that may be inscribed with names or initials. It booked $4.3 million in revenue last year.
Vessel Bags: Built-to-Last Backpacks
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 983 | Three-year growth 429% | 2018 revenue $4.6M
This two-time Inc. 5000 honoree makes many varieties of bags--from totes and luggage to golf and tennis bags. With compartments for a laptop, tablet, or other campus-needed tech, Vessel Bags' backpacks are among its biggest sellers, says founder and CEO Ronnie Shaw. Pictured above is the Carlsbad, California-based company's signature 2.0 bag in rose gold, which costs $235 on its website. It also comes with a three-year guarantee.
Kodiak Cakes: Meals on the Go
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 838 | Three-year growth 506% | 2018 revenue $102.2M
Park City, Utah's Kodiak Cakes is making its mark in meals on the go for quick breakfasts or after-school snacks. Its flapjack cups, which contain pre-portioned pancake mixes and come in eight flavors, like s'mores and chocolate peanut butter, cook quickly in the microwave. After a key appearance on Shark Tank in 2014, demand for its products, which range from flapjack and muffin cups to cake mixes and toaster waffles, has ballooned. In the last three years, annual revenue ticked up 506 percent, to more than $100 million in 2018.
Legacy Toys: Kid-Friendly Chemistry Labs
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 1280 | Three-year growth 321% | 2018 revenue $2M
Founded in 2012 in Ely, Minnesota, Legacy Toys has grown from a single toy store to a regional toy powerhouse, with stores in both Minnesota and North Dakota and $2 million in sales last year. It specializes in educational toys like its Ooze Labs chemistry kit, pictured above, which costs $39.95.
Bean Box: Coffee Beans, Delivered
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 803 | Three-year growth 534% | 2018 revenue $3M
Founders Ryan Fritzky and Matthew Berk worked together for over a decade in software engineering before they turned their love for coffee into a coffee business in 2014. The Seattle-based subscription service Bean Box sources its coffee beans from Seattle and Portland, Oregon's top roasters--and every month it ships subscribers variety packs of beans. A subscription, which may be a welcome gift for any harried college student, costs $24 per month, or $114 for a six-month subscription.
Project Repat: Personalized Quilts
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 2606 | Three-year growth 150% | 2018 revenue $9.1M
For someone with a dorm-room-sized twin bed in their future: Somerville, Massachusetts-based Project Repat helps people turn their old but beloved T-shirts into quilts. Depending on the blanket size, the company charges $75 to $239.99 per quilt. Founders Nathan Rothstein and Ross Lohr saw potential in quilts while selling upcycled products like bags and scarves made from old clothing at markets in Boston. They launched Project Repat in 2012 to take the recycled T-shirt idea even further.
B-Unlimited: T-Shirts with School Spirit
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 3243 | Three-year growth 112% | 2018 revenue $9.4M
Speaking of T-shirts, Fayetteville, Arkansas-based B-Unlimited sells customizable apparel and accessories for groups like sports teams or college fraternities and sororities. Founded in 1994, B-Unlimited uses original artwork from in-house designers and artists that customers can customize to fit their needs, and it says it provides T-shirts to around 200 college campuses across the nation. Costs vary among products, order sizes, and more, but a single, predesigned shirt costs around $26 to $34 each.
Thin Air Brands: Toys for Aspiring Naturalists
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 1181 | Three-year growth 351% | 2018 revenue $2.3M
Parker, Colorado-based Thin Air Brands was founded in 2014 by Mike Searls, who wanted to help inspire kids to turn away from their screens and toward exploring the great outdoors. The company's Nature Bound Toys collection is intended to help them do just that. The line includes kid-sized, durable exploration tools like bug nets, field microscopes, and critter habitats. The Bug Bucket Habitat Set, pictured above, costs $24.99.