Meet the Maker: Lindsey Mortensen of Larsen + Lund
As we’ve mentioned before, a clutch is a must-have summer accessory, and it just so happens that one of our favorite makers, Lindsey Mortensen of Larsen + Lund, makes sleek and minimal clutches in L.A. out of upcycled leather. The pieces fit perfectly in a large tote or can be rocked solo. The smaller purse fits all your essentials (phone, lip gloss, money, pen) and the larger one doubles as an iPad holder. Want to know what else she has up her sleeves? It’s time to Meet the Maker, Lindsey Mortensen.
First things first, tell us a little about yourself.
I went to art school in Baltimore for my undergraduate where I majored in fibers. It was there that I was first introduced to Karl Blossfeldt‘s work (thanks to Annet Couwenberg) as well as the incredible fashion design that was (and still is) coming out of The Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. While I was learning amazing things about surface design, it was those two influences that started me on my path.
After college, I was accepted as a construction apprentice at The Fabric Workshop + Museum in Philadelphia where I had the amazing opportunity of working with a team to create Do-Ho Suh’s Paratrooper II — a suspended figural sculpture made of knitted monofilament. After that, I worked as a textile designer in the fashion industry in New York and then Los Angeles. I soon realized that my heart was really in garment design and not just surface design, so I went back to school for fashion design. That was over four years ago, and I’ve been working as a fashion designer ever since.
Why did you decide to start Larsen + Lund?
I really just wanted to start my own company! I had worked for a few small startups and really enjoyed the energy and excitement that went along with them. But I wanted to work on something where my blood, sweat and tears were going into a project that I created and could take ownership of it. My husband is my behind-the-scenes partner, and we were really excited by the idea of collaborating on something together. Secondly, having worked in the fashion industry for awhile, I witnessed firsthand the incredible amount of waste taking place. I knew that if I was going to start a company that was creating consumer goods that I wanted to feel good about those products by using remnant materials.
In five words or less, tell us why you love to make.
The beauty in utility!
Where do you get your inspiration?
I’m inspired by anything that I find beautiful. It can be anything from a beautifully shaped ceramic pot to a vintage piece of jewelry. Most of all though, I love objects that combine beautiful form with functionality.
What does the making process look like for you?
I start by researching and sketching and then move on to making simple prototypes. I make those out of paper or on my home sewing machine. Once I have the shape I like, I work with an amazing leather factory in downtown L.A. to make my first real sample. Sometimes the sample needs to be re-worked, but once it’s at a place where I feel confident, we move forward with production.
What other creative hobbies do you have?
I’ve really been trying hard to become a good gardener. So far though, I’m pretty terrible.
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with other makers?
Keep doing it! Someone once told me, “The people that make it are just the ones that stuck with it the longest.”
What’s your favorite accessory? (Other than purses, of course!)
A gold mangala sutra necklace that my husband gave me on our wedding day. His thumbprint is on the back!
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
The truth is Larsen + Lund wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for social media. I’ve had the design for these bags and the idea of making them for so long. Friends and strangers had told me that they would want to buy them. But the costs of manufacturing, even for a small operation like mine, were prohibitively high. My Kickstarter campaign (with help from Facebook and Instagram) was the only way for me to get the brand off the ground. As easy as it is to be glib and complain about how the Internet affects our social interactions for the worse, I know that I’m indebted to technology. I don’t have that many Facebook friends, and I still don’t really know my way around Twitter, but I was still able to leverage the tools that were available to turn my idea into something real.
What’s up next for you?
We have a few larger bags that we’re working on in addition to a dopp bag. It’s a little different from what we’ve done so far, but we’re also designing uniforms for a restaurant in Palm Springs which I’m really excited about!
Do you love Lindsey’s handbags like we do? Grab your bag at Larsen + Lund and share your thoughts in the comments below!