A teenager who grew up in the care system has designed a stylish tote bag for John Lewis and Waitrose stores across the UK.

Michael Archibald, 18, was selected by the charity Who Cares? Scotland to design the bag.

He said: “I still feel like it’s unreal. I absolutely love it and I love seeing so many people’s positive reactions to it.”

Born in Paisley and raised in Newton Mearns, Michael’s interest in art and design bloomed as a youngster growing up in the care system.

He entered kinship care aged 10 and moved around East Renfrewshire and through the care system before becoming estranged at 17.

Barrhead News: Michael Archibald, 18Michael Archibald, 18 (Image: Martin Shields)

His experience inspired the colourful tote bag which was designed in collaboration with the John Lewis Partnership design team and creative agency Saatchi and Saatchi.

The North Star in the middle represents the brilliance of the person in care.

The rigid star at the centre sits atop organic shapes that float around the tote bag like smoking clouds in an old-fashioned Japanese painting.

These swirls represent the “love, care and respect” that people need, Michael says.

Bright coral (a twist on Michael’s favourite colour red) stands out against the purple, yellow and blue.

He said: “When I was growing up, I wasn’t able to afford a lot, I wasn’t able to buy people gifts.

“Art was my way of showing appreciation and gift-giving.

“When I was a tiny tot in nursery I would grab a crayon and start drawing because I felt like the time and effort I put in to make a pretty picture – it’s the tiny brain’s way of processing things.

“If I make a really nice picture that I put effort into it could be a really good gift and show that I care.”

Michael became an avid illustrator and would spend his free time doodling. After getting his first tablet five years ago, his skill with design continued to grow.

He is currently studying to be a psychologist at Strathclyde University and though it’s not his direct career choice, art has become a vital part of his routine.

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Michael said: “It’s something I feel comfortable with to have as a hobby.

“When I’m drawing I can be in a space where I’m allowed to just be creative and it’s not for the purpose of money.”

He added: “I’m estranged – I don’t have family that I can go home to at the end of the day and talk about my day.

“I don’t have anyone that I can eat dinner with in that regard either, there’s none of that.

“What I’ve got is me and my own time, and I sit and I put my snacks and drinks to the side and I’ll pick up a pen and get inspired.

“I’ll just start drawing and it’s really therapeutic.”

As the flagship design for an upcoming range, Michael wanted his tote bag to be a strong reminder of the John Lewis Partnership’s Building Happier Futures Programme.

The collaborative design-led project will see more products launch throughout 2024 and beyond. 

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He said: “I really hope it inspires our future young folk who get involved in making the products to be bold and make designs they connect with.”

Made from recycled bottles, the new shopper bag is available online and in Waitrose and John Lewis stores. Profits from each £12 bag sold will go to Action for Children, Home-Start UK and Who Cares? Scotland.

Michael said: “There’s something about being able to make an impression and make a difference that makes me feel really good. This is fantastic.”