Actor Shay Mitchell on Building a Business and Packing like a Pro

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Shay Mitchell has clearly had a long‑time obsession with globe‑trotting. She named her daughter Atlas, for starters. Supporting evidence can be found on her Instagram feed, which prior to Covid‑19 was peppered with glimpses of breathtaking getaways. Then, there’s her Shaycation YouTube series, which documented her adventures in Bali, India, Greece and beyond. And finally, there’s Béis, the luggage company Mitchell founded in 2018 – she’d been searching for the perfect bag ever since Caboodles cases informed her childhood travels, and eventually decided to just design her own. After years of sketching prototypes that merged chic looks with functionality and an accessible price tag, Mitchell wheeled her dream into reality. We were curious about how the new mom, actor and entrepreneur is making it all work mid‑pandemic – and where she’s headed next.

December 28, 2020
Shay Mitchell in a billowing polkadot dress walking down a Barcelona street
   Photo: @shaymitchell

enRoute What have you learned in your acting career that’s helped you succeed as an entrepreneur?

Shay Mitchell Patience, for one thing. There’s a lot of sitting and waiting on set, and with the bags there are always delays and little hiccups. Also, trusting my intuition and going with my gut. And then working collectively with others is a big one. When you’re on set, you work with a lot of different people and it’s the same in my bag business because a lot of people play a part in manufacturing. It’s always a team effort.

ER What prompted you to launch a bag collection?

SM It was born from a growing frustration with what was being offered – everything was either out of my price range, or lacked function, or wasn’t very cute. Whenever I was on a plane, I’d draw up my dream bag on a cocktail napkin. The bags in my head always combined form and function. I joke about it now with my mom, but I always had so many Caboodles when I was younger because I cared more about the cases than what I was putting in them. I’ve always loved feeling organized, like I have everything with me that I could ever need.

ER How do you balance an acting career with running your own company?

SM It really comes down to prioritizing. I check in with my team at the beginning of every day and we assess what needs to be done that day, and what doesn’t. You can’t do everything all at once, and now obviously Atlas takes first priority.

Shay Mitchell with her daughter Atlas in a stroller out for a walk
   Photo: @shaymitchell

ER Are there any Béis pieces you can’t live without?

SM I love the Overnighter in the tapestry pattern because it’s really light and I can pack a bunch of stuff in it for Atlas. And I use the Cosmetic Case every single day – it comes with a mirror that has a fold‑out stand so you can get ready to go out no matter where you are.

ER You’ve been very open about your support for Black Lives Matter. How do you use your social media platform for good?

SM I feel passionately about a lot of the social, political and human rights issues that we’re facing today. I think all brands need to pull extra weight to not only minimize their footprints but to also use their platforms for good and to educate people about what’s happening in the world.

ER How has being Canadian helped define you?

SM It’s had a lot of influence on who I am as a person and as a businesswoman. Canada always feels like home no matter where I am in the world. I feel so proud to be Canadian. It’s something that I always let people know right away and, if I could wear a badge on my forehead, I would.

ER Is there anything in particular that you miss about Canada?

SM Best believe I have a drawer full of ketchup chips and Smarties! I miss so much, but first and foremost it’s the people. I think there’s a Canadian energy – we’re always very welcoming and I feel that as soon as I land at the airport. Also, the seasons. Being in L.A. we have pretty good weather, but I definitely miss the leaves changing in the fall and the beginning of winter.

ER What’s your top packing tip?

SM I’m an over‑packer. I think it’s important to feel like you have everything you need. Recently I got into vacuum packs. When you’re travelling with kids and a partner, packing cubes keep all of your stuff separate, but still super organized.

Shay Mitchell with an oversized Béis bag, standing in a doorway

The Questionnaire

  • Favourite souvenir My Canadian maple syrup.

  • Dream seatmate Beyoncé.

  • First travel memory Packing my own suitcase on our first family trip ‑ I think it was to Walt Disney World. I just remember being able to carry my bag and being very excited. I’m telling you I’ve had this fascination with bags since I was a kid!

  • Bucket list destination Scotland. My grandmother is Scottish and I just need to go check it out. I’ve been to Ireland ‑ I was completely obsessed with it ‑ and Scotland is next on my list. I write down all my bucket list places ‑ Colombia is on there, too ‑ and I think it’s a good way of making them actually happen.

  • Carry‑on essential Right now, hand sanitizer, but aside from that, a phone charger.

  • Travel has the power to… Open your eyes to new people and cultures in a way that nothing else can.