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!
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com