Lindsey Mortensen, Designer, Larsen & Lund

Lindsey Mortensen has a dreamy company story when it comes to one of the most important aspects of starting a business - funding! And not the kind that involves mountains of debt. Her leather goods company, Larsen & Lund, got its start in 2013 when Lindsey ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and received more than double her initial funding goal! We love the fact that Lindsay represents equal parts business savvy and creative force - so we asked her a to share some secrets of success with you! Read on to find out what she has to say about learning to love a challenge, accepting the imperfect, and facing those pesky new business nerves. Enjoy! 

Hi, Lindsey! Can you walk us through your path? What kind of stops were on the way to where you are now?

I feel like my path has always pointed in the same general direction, but it’s definitely been a bit windy. When I was young, I was really into art and fashion and ended up going to art school and majoring in Fibers. It was a textile program that was under the umbrella of the Sculpture department. That experience really created a foundation for me to think sculpturally and see value and meaning in material choices.

Can you tell us about getting up-and-running with the aid of Kickstarter? Would you recommend this approach?

Launching with Kickstarter was great, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who is interested in starting a business! The video component is really important (if not the most important thing) with Kickstarter. I had a lot of help creating mine. A close friend, who is a talented film director here in LA (and had already shot videos for other successful Kickstarter campaigns) really went the extra mile to help me out. It was because of my Kickstarter that I was able to do two production runs without having to front all of the cost myself.

Starting a business is scary, and a lot of people talk about starting one but never do. Where did you find the confidence and drive to take the plunge? 

I won’t lie. When I started my business, I was terrified. I’m very much an introvert, and when you start a business, you become so exposed and vulnerable to the outside world. You open yourself up to judgment and criticism. It can also be overwhelming because you quickly realize how many hats you have to wear. You have to be ready to learn a lot of new skills (quickly!) most of which are totally foreign! It took a little time, but I found myself loving the challenge of having to get outside my comfort zone and put my product (and myself) out there. I decided to take the plunge after being creatively unfulfilled at a day job and feeling compelled to express an aesthetic and vision that had been bottled up for too long.

As a business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a company?

The beginning is the hardest, so just start. Even if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Once you’ve created a little momentum, it gets easier.

How do you envision the lifestyle of your brand?

I got my start in fashion in New York, and I will always be pulled in by the sense of elevated and sophisticated fashion in that people in that city have. But I left NY and have been living in Los Angeles for the past seven years and have never lived anywhere longer. Maybe it was inevitable, but I feel pulled in by the relaxed, laid-back sensibility that LA has. I think Larsen & Lund is a reflection of that hybrid of New York’s sophisticated fashion sensibility and LA’s effortless one.

Tell us about the process of designing a collection. Where do you start?

Almost all our new developments start with the material! I think the most successful and beautiful products are those that are the perfect balance between shape and texture.  My design process starts with a need. I think about what products are lacking in my life, that would make life easier or more efficient. I usually already have a material in mind, and then start sketching out ideas. Once I have a clear idea of a silhouette, I then move onto having a prototype made. It usually takes about three samples until I can get it right.

What is "Wabi-Sabi" and how is it presented in your brand ethos?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition is “a philosophy of aesthetics that emphasizes the beauty of the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” I decided from the company’s beginning that by using a natural product like leather as my primary material, that I was going to accept a certain level of imperfection in the material as being part of its intrinsic beauty. There is a uniqueness to a flaw or imperfection that can be beautiful. I try and embrace that. 

Often the fashion industry is dubbed as superficial by outsiders, but SO many intelligent young women are actively pursuing careers in fashion-related fields. Why do you think fashion holds such a captive audience of thoughtful young women?

I think it’s because those women (myself included) don’t see fashion as superficial but simply as a piece of a larger aesthetic puzzle. There has also been a growing trend of transparency and social-consciousness that women are responding to. Fashion has become a component of an expression of a unique lifestyle that can be a reflection what we value. 

Where do you source inspiration and how do you organize it?

I went to art school, and I try and stay in touch with that world as much as possible. So much of my inspiration comes from either art that I love or artists that I’ve recently discovered. But most recently I’ve been really inspired by ceramics. I started taking classes over the summer (a late start to a Xmas present!) and have had fun exploring and researching shapes, glazes, and clay types. I’m excited how my classes are going to inform the new pieces I’m working on!