Have you seen the gorgeous but also very utilitarian bags from Schulz Collection yet? Driven by a desire to fill a gap in the market and remain planet friendly, artist and dressage rider Lindsey Schulz has created a new brand that has an eye on both the past and the future. I’m looking forward to one day owning some of her bags (they are an investment!) and seeing what future products are coming!
It was twofold really. First, I was traveling between Northern California (where I live) and LA (where I’d ride and compete). I was lugging around so many bags that I started daydreaming about products that would make my life easier. Then, after losing all my tack in the Woolsey Fire, it prompted me to finally act on those daydreams. I couldn’t find any bags that I loved and no longer wanted to settle for the basics that we all know so well. I also felt these products were important to make because I wasn’t just tweaking a pre-existing product, but creating something new. One of the most important design aspects of these bags is their durability and longevity. These bags are meant to last a lifetime, eliminating the need to repurchase bags that continue to fall apart (to learn more about sustainability, read on below).
How did you take it from that idea to an actual product? Explain the process and what teammates you had to bring on to make this happen?
It was a far more complex process than I imagined! After I drew out the bags I had in mind, my dad connected me with his friend (and my future business partner) David Riley. Shortly after, we officially created a partnership and began the business. We brought in our technical designer, Pete Hill, who created mock ups and rough samples, and he truly took my desires for each bag and created something so elegant. From there we began working with our factory to fine tune the bags sample by sample, until a year later we had the bags we were
I think a lot of people underestimate the technical challenges of these bags too, their dimensions, the stiffness, the attention to detail, all while using sustainable materials is incredibly complicated. The turning point was looking at the bags more like hard luggage compared to bags, and we finally achieved the silhouettes and durability we set out for, managing to combine the protection of hard luggage while maintaining flexibility for the carrier.
One of the most complicated features to create was our patent pending Metis docking system which allows riders to attach their helmet bag to their boot bag. Our industrial engineer, Cameron Shute, made sure it was secure enough to hold the bags together through turbulent motions, but easy enough where you could attach and detach them effortlessly with one hand. What I find exciting is, as hard as we worked on these products, this is the first generation. We have plenty to learn from them and will continue to find ways to further improve upon them and
Can you tell me a bit about your dedication to being earth friendly and how you’ve addressed that with your product line?
It’s always been a subject that has orbited me since I was a child. My mom received her degree in Environmental Studies and Planning and implemented habits like recycling before it was adopted as mainstream. At my K-8th grade school we had teachers who were very environmentally conscious, choosing to ride their bicycles to school for example, and teaching us about activists like Julia Butterfly during her 738 day Redwood tree sit in. For my high school senior thesis report, I chose to study deforestation where I had to write and present about the social, political, economic and environmental effects of deforestation on a global, national and local level.
In college I was particularly drawn to artists who incorporated the land or natural materials into their practice too, such as Agnes Denes, Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson, Christo and Jeanne Claude, Wolfgang Laib, Andy Goldsworthy, and Richard Long. My amateur interest in our climate took a turn in 2017 when the Tubbs Fire destroyed my hometown of Santa Rosa, including my family home. The following year the Woolsey Fire tore through Malibu, burning down the barn where I rode at, losing everything except the horses that my husband George, myself and a few other boarders helped evacuate at 3 am.
The severity of this crisis was undeniable, and at our doorstep. I began reading books about the climate (Drawdown, The Sixth Extinction, We Are the Weather, All We Can Save, Under a White Sky, Under the Sky We Make, and NDN’s Required Reading) watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, and researching systems and products to wade through the greenwashing in order to get a clearer sense of what was actually “best” for the environment.
Creating anything new raises sustainable challenges, therefore our attention is primarily focused on purpose of product, selecting materials responsibly and looking at the longevity of their use. Our first motivation was to create bags that would perform as long as possible, looking at vintage goods that endure generations of use. Fast fashion and disposable culture are among the most harmful practices for our planet. As a response, we have created two programs to prevent our bags from ending up in landfills over time. The first is our Pre-Loved Program which allows consumers to trade in their old bags (if they want to purchase a new color variant for example) and we will clean and repair any damages to then be resold at a lower price point so we can also be accessible for people who may not be able to afford a new bag. The second is our Recycling Program which will take bags at the very end of their lifecycle to properly deconstruct them to recycle as many components as possible. We are also a new business and constantly educating ourselves on ways we can become more sustainable through materials, packaging, transportation, recycling etc.
As well as being eco conscious, your products have been developed to be high performance and high style. Can you explain your process for both the aesthetics of the line as well as how you decided on the utilitarian features.
In the development phase of these bags I kept referring to products like Dubarry boots; how they were beautifully designed but also performed flawlessly in harsher conditions. The harmony of form and function is critical for effective performance and enjoying the product. These aspects were a driving factor in selecting materials. There are plenty of beautiful bags made of luxurious materials, but they are not ideal for a barn environment or inclement weather.
Aside from the materials, the intuitive design of the bags were equally important. We reimagined how riders interact with their products because I was personally irritated by having to wrestle my boots in and out of their bag, reaching around the shell of my helmet to grab it, or the chaos of a show bag that turns into a disaster by the time you’re leaving the warm up ring. Existing bags do their job perfectly on a basic level, but I want to elevate our expectation of them to showcase what good design can really do for you.
My formal background is in conceptual art. I received my BFA in 2011 from Otis College of Art and Design, and my MFA from CalArts in 2015. While I studied Fine Art (not product design) I was always drawn to clever design that solved problems while appearing effortless (Dieter Rams, Japanese and Scandinavian minimalist design). When I was unable to find the type of product I had in mind after months of scouring the internet, I decided to draw out what I wanted in my ideal bags. I didn’t have any idea that it would lead to the creation of this business, in fact I initially thought I could find a factory who could make me a sample so at least I could have what I wanted. Looking back though, this thought it quite funny as I had no idea what it entailed to develop the bags we have today and how many iterations we went through to get to this point. Throughout the entire design process, my background helped with clarity of communication, productive critiques, clear direction of design and aesthetic, and realizing a unique product that didn’t yet exist.
I also couldn’t have done any of this without my Business partner, David Riley. He has 30+ years of executive experience in technical bags, luxury luggage, global logistics, and manufacturing. So along with our extended team, we were able to take my vision from concept and bring it to life.
I juggle several jobs and projects throughout my week. Schulz has definitely moved to the forefront and requires a great deal of attention now then when we began. Social media, interviews for our journal, ambassador relations, graphic design, working with additional graphic designers, creating content, shipping orders, vendor booths, developing new products and critiquing samples are all just part of what I take on personally.
My husband, George, and I also co-own a business called Inu Packs in which we work mostly in rehabilitating dogs with aggression or other behavioral issues. I initially got into this field after adopting an aggressive puppy and spending six years trying to find a way to work through it. After several trainers (of various training philosophies) urged me to euthanize him, I finally found someone who understood him and had him socializing on day 1. That man, Brandon Fouche, is now our mentor and he’s truly changed everything we thought we knew about dogs.
We also spend our days settling in to our property where we have guinea fowl, chickens, horses, dogs and goats. George has several projects going to improve the land for us to be more self sustaining, and utilizing our animals in the maintenance more easily. I also maintain my art practice as well, even though it’s taken a bit of a backseat while launching Schulz.
How did you decide on your first products to launch?
Actually the very first product I thought of is something we are still developing for down the road, but shortly after that piece, I began drawing iterations for the three products that make up “The 1912 Collection.” We began with these three (Groom Bag, Boot Bag and Helmet Bag) because they are the most commonly used bags that also had the most potential for improvement. Our attention has always been on improving products that are in demand to give riders a more elegant, organized and ethically responsible option.
Do you have plans for any future lines that you want to share?
My business partner, product designer and I recently got together to go over plans for the next generation of the 1912 Collection, new color variants, as well as several new products that we’ll be developing and releasing over the next couple of years. Some items will be centered around the sport like our current collection, while others will be more for everyday use. And we’re always looking for suggestions and feedback of what people wish was out there!
It would be amazing if we had a well-recognized name in the equestrian space. I want to develop more products for riders to use that can make a better impact on their daily routines as well as the environment. We also would love to invest in R&D to be able to incorporate innovative materials into our future collections. We are also keeping in mind options for personalization with material and colors. Possibly by year 5 also looking at opening flagship location as well as beginning to discuss opportunities for equestrian summits.
What is your horse story? Tell me about some of the most important horses in your life.
I guess it initially began because of a horse that lived in my neighborhood as a child, Truffles. Everyday when I’d leave and return home, I’d scoot to the side of the car closest to the pasture, roll down my window and shout as loudly as my small lungs could, “Hiiiiii Trufflesssss.” At the age of six my mom enrolled me in a week long horse camp (which ended up terrifying me as they had us jumping little cross rails on day 2), so then I began taking private lessons at a different barn from the age of seven to when I left for college.
When I moved to LA, I started training with Jane Arrasmith and finally began competing. I had many wonderful lease opportunities with Jane and her wonderful clients who owned the various horses. Luna Blanca introduced me to the competition ring in the 3rd and 4th level, then Wishful Thinking in 1st and 2nd level. I was given the ride on a dear friend’s horse, Laredo 183, where we rode the PSG, I-II, Grand Prix and GP Freestyle. Laredo (also known as the Fire Breathing Dragon) was particularly special to me on many levels, giving me an education unlike any other. We went on to win the USDF & CDS AA Grand Prix Region 7 Championships, but
had agreed to retired him (well-deserved) before Nationals.
After that, I purchased a two years old, Fibonacci, and began riding some training and 1st level tests, but was forced to retire him at the age of 4 when he was diagnosed with Wobblers Syndrome. He now resides at my house
with his pasture mates enjoying loads of affection and treats from all our friends and neighbors!
The next year I half-leased Delia 87 for the PSG and I-I, winning the I-I Freestyle at Region 7’s Championships, and last year leased Uprising for the PSG and I-I. During the last two leases, I had moved up to Northern California so I would drive down a couple days before a qualifying show to practice my test, go in the ring that weekend, and then drive back home Sunday after my ride. It was emotionally trying to go from riding five days a week to five weekends a year, especially feeling like I didn’t have the time to create that bond and partnership with the horse as I had previously. But anything was better than nothing!
While this journey hasn’t been a traditional one by any means, I’ve been grateful for each partnership because it has been such a thorough education. Each horse was very different and I had to learn how to ride for different feels. I haven’t ridden since Regional Championships last year (2021) but it has ended up being decent timing with all the work involved in launching Schulz. Although, I am constantly dreaming of the day I can get back in the ring!
What parts of running your own business do you find the most rewarding?
It’s always been something I’ve been drawn to particularly because I like to have that creative influence over my vision. It’s a really collaborative process which has to be acknowledged because I work with such an amazing team who has brought their expertise to the table to create something special. It’s been a steep learning curve for me to work in a new medium, but important to have the support where I can admit to my naiveté and ask “Ok, but is This possible?” – and we find a way to make it work. Though I routinely questions my decisions, at the end of the day I have to be loyal to my vision and excited to incorporate feedback.
What parts of running your own business do you find the most challenging?
Since I have many projects going on at once it can be hard to dedicate the time I need to each thing, and also carving out time to prioritize myself and my personal relationships. Finding efficiency and setting boundaries are things I still need to work on. I feel lucky in many ways for example, George has an art background as well and helps me with the design aspects of the brand often, and joins me for the pop up events and packing orders, so it would be impossible without his support. When it’s your own business, there’s no distinct separation from work hours and time off. It’s the same blurred lines when it comes to my art practice and my dog business too, each of these passions pull at my thoughts constantly, which can’t be helped when you want to give so much of yourself to it.
To learn more about Schulz Collection and view the product line up visit their website & Instagram.