Every now and then you luckily come across something very special, it sticks in your mind because of its uniqueness, and you just know that whoever made it genuinely talented and passionate about their work. Last summer, this feeling lit up my instincts when I laid eyes upon the ESCAPE bag by Forestound. I was downtown Los Angeles, in 100 degree heat, at a Renegade craft fair and one of the vendors had this bag perfectly situated inside their hip airstream. Needless to say, it was love at first site, and I began my search to learn more about the brand Forestbound and the brilliant Maker behind it...
Read Forestbound Creator, Alice Saunders', Meet the Maker interview below
M&G: Describe yourself with three adjectives…
Alice: Hard working, loyal, tenacious.
M&G: How do you start your mornings?
Alice: A few days a week I get up very early to take a spin class at a great local studio in Boston called Recycle Studio. Even though setting an alarm for 5am can be tough I am always so so happy that I got out of bed and got a killer workout in before 7am. Then I usually grab a coffee & smoothie before heading to the Forestbound studio. On the mornings that I don’t go to spin my boyfriend will make us coffee and toast and we’ll catch up a bit while sitting in bed with our dog before we both head our separate ways to work.
M&G: What is you biggest entrepreneurial challenge?
Alice: Definitely the bookkeeping. I am very much a creative minded person, not a business minded person. But I am a one woman show so I have to take on all the rolls. It took me a long time to get a handle on the bookkeeping and feel confident and comfortable.
M&G: When and where are you the happiest?
Alice: Camping in the back of my 1988 Toyota Landcruiser with my boyfriend and dog at our favorite campsite by the water or when I’m outside playing in the sun with my nieces and nephew.
M&G: What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
Alice: Quitting my jobs to focus on Forestbound full time.
M&G: Do you have any fears? If so, how do you conquer them?
Alice: Oh yes, lots of fears. Running a small business alone is very tough! But I actually learned how to be fearless through running. It was something that had always seemed very out of reach for me, but I started running a bit when my dad was diagnosed with dementia in 2009 and it quickly became a really crucial coping mechanism. I began to see myself improve and started setting lofty goals that truly terrified me. But I worked really really hard to reach them and in the process endured so much physical and emotional pain. In the end I saw myself get strong and run faster than I ever could have imagined. It was all because I pushed beyond my limits and challenged myself to step up to something scary and not back down.
M&G: How do you decompress?
Alice: I am very lucky to live right around the corner from the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain (right outside of Boston proper) and my favorite way to decompress is to take long walks there with my dog in the late afternoon. I know the grounds like the back of my hand and always know where to find the flowers that are in peak bloom that week. Plus we know just where to go for the perfect sunset view. In May their collection of 400 lilacs are in full bloom and being able to walk right over for a stroll through that heavenly scent is my idea of pure bliss.
M&G: What inspires you?
Alice: Women friends of mine who are fearless business owners, athletes, and mothers. I am so thankful to have a number of badass women in my life and watching them live their lives with so much purpose, passion and grit is endlessly inspiring to me.
M&G: Do you have a quote that you live by?
Alice: “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing” - Audre Lorde
M&G: What is your favorite book?
Alice: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I read it almost every summer! Side note - for Valentine’s Day this year my boyfriend secretly listened to 100 Years of Solitude on audiobook for a few weeks leading up to Feb. 14. And then as a Valentien's Day gift he told me what he had been doing and asked if I wanted to talk about the book. He’s not a big reader but wanted to know why I loved the book so much and wanted to be able to talk with me about it. So, so sweet.
M&G: What is your favorite restaurant/meal?
Alice: I love Sarma & Sofra here in Boston. They are sister restaurants and create the most incredible Mediterranean food. I’m Armenian and love seeing when chefs and restaurants get creative with Mediterranean flavors and ingredients.
M&G: Of all of the people in the world who would you most like to have a drink with?
Alice: Probably Patti Smith.
M&G: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Alice: I rarely give myself a break. I have super high expectations for myself which has been beneficial in building my business and training for marathons, but I have a hard time letting myself truly relax and take it easy. I always feel like I could and should be doing more.
M&G: If you could make sure one thing did not change about yourself, what would it be?
Alice: My endless devotion to my family and my friends.
M&G: If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
Alice: I’d love to transport myself to California to see the wildflower super bloom.
M&G: What quality do you find most attractive in others? The least attractive?
Alice: I gravitate towards those who are fearless, without ego, full of laughter and kindness.
M&G: In what ways do you and your brand like to give back?
Alice: Giving back is incredibly important to me and a huge part of Forestbound. I’ve raised nearly $15,000 for the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration through Forestbound raffles, special products, and other fundraisers. I’ve also raised money for the Disabilities Rights Center, the ACLU, and the New England Center and Home for Veterans. Most of the money that I raise is inspired by or in honor of my dad, who passed away in November 2014. Giving back to the community played a crucial role in his life so not only did he instill it in me growing up, I also do my best to carry on his legacy now that he’s passed.
Forestbound was founded in 2007 and all bags are handmade, from start to finish, in a work studio in Massachusetts. They feature several different collections (see images and descriptions below) as well as a charity line that has an impact and gives back. Click here to shop ForestBound in Makers & Goods.
The ESCAPE Bags are designed to inspire adventure and memory-making. They are constructed of durable canvas and leather with multiple color options. Starting at $99. Click here to order yours.
The Originals collection are all one-of-a-kind bags that are handmade using sourced textiles salvaged and discovered around New England. Click here to shop Forestbound Originals.
The Canvas Utility Bags are slightly smaller that the Escape line. You have the choice of "BLISS", "WANDER", "PEACE", and "NEW ENGLAND". $99. click here to order.
To learn more about Alice Saunders and Forestbound, visit the Foresbound Website.