Sagebrush Surf bags are colorful socks for your surfboards. They’re handcrafted with remnant fabric and used bean bags from organic coffee roasters. Every single bag is unique and beautiful. I was instantly charmed by the principals of Sagebrush as well as the quality and originality of the bags. Naturally, I reached out to learn a little more about the brand. Anna, the founder/chief seamstress/all around awesome person, was kind enough to respond to all of my questions.
Hello Anna! Tell us a little something about your hometown Topanga Canyon, CA?
I’m completely biased, but it’s an absolute oasis of nature, culture, vibrant beauty and the most caring folk you’ll find within a few hundred miles of Los Angeles. It actually borders LA, but you wouldn’t know until you hike high enough on the ridgelines to see the smog and high risers. Topanga’s got endless hiking trails, good local eats, vintage clothing, and a lot of creatives that find refuge in the stillness of the canyon.
How long have you been surfing? Is it a family affair?
Started when I was 9, bummed rides to the beach whenever I could, but I only really was able to get in the water as much as I wanted once I started driving. My family loves the beach, my dad bodysurfs, mom swims… they’re almost always there, but I decided I liked having a board under my feet.
I read that you were a vegan, what is your go-to meal?
Smoothies for breakfast! My favorite is frozen banana, almond milk, spirulina powder, and figs or cherries. I haven’t had an oven for a couple years due to “alternative” living situations (cabins, warehouses, tents, vans, hostels etc) so most of what I eat needs only a camp stove to prepare – lentil soups, steamed veggies…rice and beans type stuff. I’m not entirely vegan, but I am extremely conscious of what I eat. I could never kill an animal for my own consumption so I can’t justify paying someone else to do it for me. I sometimes eat eggs if I know the chickens or ducks are living in good conditions and treated gently. Dairy makes no sense to me from any perspective. I try to be non-judgmental, as people’s innards can vary as much as our outer appearances, there’s no way to say that what works for me also works for others. But it does work for me. I think it’s important to try different styles of eating to see which fuels your body in the most effective way.
Explain the name sagebrush
Sagebrush as well as being a plant, is another word for chaparral, which is the type of plant life and ground covering we have in Topanga. Dry brush, cacti, some oaks, all that. I love it and it smells like heaven. It’s where I fell in love with hiking, being outdoors and it’s what I realized I needed to help protect. Since Sagebrush is about upcycling materials and donating to environmental causes, I wanted to name it after what started the passion in the first place.
You went from creating board bags for your friends to becoming an entrepreneur and running your own business. How did that transition happen?
Three years ago I was working five days a week, splitting days between working at a surf shop and sewing for a small scarf company. I had meltdowns regularly, tried to surf most mornings before work but still just couldn’t find balance or happiness spending that much time indoors. Regardless, it taught me the importance of valuing every moment and being productive in the time off I did have. I bettered my sewing abilities and I learned a lot about starting a brand. I realize now how every little thing you do, whether you’re suffering or loving it, is gonna prepare you for the next step. That next thing for me was Sagebrush. The people at the surf shop really supported me into that venture. Thanks Mollusk! Social media is also crucial for starting a small business. I wouldn’t have been able to get the word out without that tool.
It seems that sewing has become somewhat of a rare talent today. Where did you learn to sew?
My grandma taught me the basics. She has an amazing collection of vintage fabric. We’d spend hours making pillows and skirts. I always kept a sewing machine handy to tinker with and make stuff I needed, worked a few sewing jobs then spent way too many hours cutting and sewing board bags.
Your board bags are built with fair trade coffee bags. Where do you get these?
I get the burlap bags from a couple coffee roasters in the area. I trade board bags for them, since it turns out lots of coffee folk surf. The main two places I go to are Lord Winsors in Long Beach and Groundwork in West Hollywood. Both are roasters I support and love upcycling what otherwise could be discarded.
Is there a unique process for creating each bag?
Cup of tea on my right side, some folky music playing and my dog at my feet. I love working at odd hours. Just before sunrise is my most productive time, so I often set an alarm for 4am, work a few hours, then nap for a bit before going surfing.
What is the nicest place you’ve ever brought your Sagebrush board bag to?
Oregon was epic. We had 9 boards strapped to the roof of a van named Rooney. Got insanely perfect waves and trotted up and down the coast camping and visiting friends.
You have a Tumblr with many awesome pictures. Is taking pictures something that is natural or is it a craft that you taught yourself?
My dad’s been a shooting for as long as he’s been traveling (dirtbagging and vanlifing is in my blood) so he got me into it a bit when I was younger. I never really got into digital, but as soon as I picked up his old film camera it clicked and I really fell in love with taking photos. Something about film suits my style. I now can’t imagine leaving the house without my camera. I notice so much more beauty having trained my eyes to look out for it. It’s another excuse to spend more time outdoors and share the experiences of being held tightly in the arms of Mother Nature.
It’s another excuse to spend more time outdoors and share the experiences of being held tightly in the arms of Mother Nature.
Your brand and message are hopeful and inspirational. Can you name one person and one organization that inspire you?
Person – Cyrus Sutton is currently filming for his documentary Island Earth in Hawaii. It’s going to unearth secrets of the chemical companies, lies of big agriculture, and most importantly bring together people and show the importance of working with the land to benefit all. Farming shouldn’t be a fight against nature; it’s a way to feed our families and neighbors while improving the land we reside on. Cyrus is an all around good being I’m always happy to share space with.
Organization –The Pachamama Alliance has a beautiful mission statement. Surfrider is doing great stuff too.
Where was your most recent trip and how did it go?
I just got back a couple days ago from sailing the Gaviota Coast from the Hollister Ranch to Santa Barbara. It was pretty exciting although there was only the slightest breath of wind. We just kind of bobbed around in the channel, saw a shark, slept on beaches, and got really sunburned. Successful by any measure. It’s always nice to familiarize oneself with the outskirts of the “homeland”.
How do you feel about the current surf industry? Do you think surfers are slowly moving towards more sustainable brands? Do you believe that the masses will follow?
Definitely!! I get excited about that every day. Surfers as a whole have to be somewhat concerned. If what we love dearly is at stake I think we’re gonna do what it takes to protect it. There’s a gap in education, getting facts out to people and showing how much power each individual has to make a change, but as a whole I see a shift happening. People are paying more to support brands making products that last longer and are made with consciously sourced materials. It gets to a point, you can only buy so many things that have been poorly made in China with cheap products before you start to notice the faults, how quickly these products break apart and how unsustainable the whole deal is of having to constantly buy more crap. When clothing or products are made right, with thought put into construction, they outlast cheap stuff time and time again. Sourcing materials is huuuge. There’s so much “waste” we discard that can be used for new products. I’m always amazed by the innovation. From cork traction pads to surfboards made with recycled styrofoam, there’s a lot we can be keeping out of landfills.
“…showing how much power each individual has to make a change.”
Are there any daily actions you would recommend to live a healthier, more environmentally conscious life?
Not using disposable plastics. Doesn’t take much to buy or make a tote bag or two and never ever have to use plastic bags again. I feel weird preaching since there are still so many things I need to improve on, like driving less and eating more local but I try to continually evolve and need less. There really are a million and a half ways we can all band together to improve the planet for all its inhabitants. I guess just finding what each person is most passionate about and zoning in on that is what’s gonna be the most effective. For me, I find sanctuary in the ocean so I direct my efforts to causes to protect the marine areas. Being plastic-free is #1 on my list.
What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
That’s a tie between Diary of a Sea Captains Wife (about a couple building a cabin on Santa Cruz Island in the 1920s and living there for several decades onwards, a beautiful example of how living simply and working with the land is so gratifying) and The Time of the Black Jaguar (lots of references about ancient wisdom and going into detail about the ways in which we can treat the Earth as what she is, our mother)
Do you prefer coffee or espresso?
Actually tea, haha.. Preferably dandelion root or chai
Thank you so much for your time, Anna. Where can people learn more about you?
I sometimes talk, mostly always listen, I reside along coastlines and am always happy to converse. Other than that people can follow my photo blog – annaehrgott.com, or Instagram @annaehrgott, which I update with photos from travels and written pieces about the environment and whatnot.
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