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!
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
Want to feel motivated to take the next step for your business? Let Office Depot OfficeMax give you the confidence you need with a suite of business services & solutions to help you put your best foot forward. Make a good first impression with business cards & build the business pitch of your dreams with custom presentations. With Office Depot OfficeMax you'll find the tools to reach new customers with confidence.
Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.