During one of my first prop stylist assistant jobs, Randi Brookman Harris, a veteran prop stylist who worked for years with Martha Stewart, asked me to grab her some items out of her toolkit. I opened her weathered L.L. Bean backpack to find it was filled with two dozen identical canvas pouches — each of which contained a specific set of tools (tape, scissors, glue), and each of which was stamped with an unfamiliar logo: Klein Tools, Est. 1857.
Nobody really knows who started the Klein bag tradition. But, as I quickly learned, every single prop stylist uses them to organize and store their various photo-shoot necessities, which run the gamut. Prop stylists are required to completely transform the ordinary into the spectacular — to create a mermaid tail out of everyday objects, say, or build gravity-defying stacks of cosmetics. To achieve this, we come to our jobs armed with a wide array of tools, from power drills, to Goo Gone, to orthodontist wax. Which is where the Klein bags come in handy. They have a wide, 12.5-inch opening that can fit most anything we need. Their strong, industrial-style zippers can withstand years of being thrown around on set and in transit between shoots, while keeping their contents secure. The canvas is tough — it’s water-resistant, sufficiently thick to shield my fingers from sharp scissors, and strong enough to store my beloved but heavy collection of Japanese flower frogs. Yet it’s flexible, and you can easily fold it up when it’s not in use.
I’ve recently started using Klein pouches for travel, as they’re great for holding cosmetics and toiletries, and also for organizing smaller things like underwear and socks for longer trips. I also carry them in my everyday bag to organize job receipts and stow my day-to-day essentials like lip balm and hand sanitizer. They’re machine-washable and dryer-safe. And as a bonus, Klein is a family-owned business, and all their products are made in the USA. I never leave home without this bag — whether I’m preparing to build a beach from scratch in a photo studio or going to dinner with friends.