Forestbound’s Practical New England Workspace

published Nov 24, 2015
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(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Name: Alice Saunders of Forestbound and her pup, Maisey
Location: Union Square; Somerville, MA
Size: 380 square feet
Years Worked in: 1.5 years; Rented

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If you are getting “déjà pooch,” it is because we toured the beautiful home of Maisey and her owner, Alice, earlier this month. Alice’s innate style extends to all aspects of her life, so it seemed only fitting to escape to the thoughtful studio of her Massachusetts-based company, Forestbound—a workspace which combines practical minimalism with Alice’s enviable vintage finds.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Forestbound features lines of handmade and one-of-a-kind bags sewn from cowhides, canvas, and vintage materials that Alice has hunted down over the years from flea markets, estate sales, and military shows. I first discovered Forestbound in 2012, when I interned at a tiny gallery in the Boston suburb of Jamaica Plain. After coveting Alice’s handmade leather bags for months, I finally acquired one, and soon after splurged on a second—they are that good. The workmanship of her bags is impeccable. Mine even looks betterif that’s even possible—after years of daily use and abuse. While she continues to grow her business and expand her large following on Instagram, Alice’s voice, values, and work ethic have stayed consistently strong.

The Forestbound studio is a part of Fringe Union, a “coworking space and creative hub” housed in a converted warehouse in Somerville, Massachusetts. Alice recently moved across the building to her new 380-square-foot space with large windows that let in plenty of natural light. Much like in her own apartment, Alice is influenced by the beautiful objects she surrounds herself with in her studio, primarily the vintage textiles she collects and the feeling they bring to the space. “I love having these pieces out in the studio as a source of constant inspiration,” she says. The aesthetic is a simple, practical, American-inflected style that emphasizes objects that are well-made, durable, and useful: wire storage baskets, industrial sewing machines, canvas bags, wood objects, and salvaged window dividers. The space has been finely honed for both practicality and artistry, resulting in a workspace grounded in history yet engrossingly relevant.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Practical minimalism with vintage elements.

Inspiration: Mostly inspired by the vintage textiles that I collect and the feeling that they bring to the studio. Especially the many old canvas bags that I’ve found over the years at flea markets, estate sales, and military shows. I love having these pieces out in the studio as a source of constant inspiration.

Favorite Element: Our huge windows and all the natural light. We moved into this space about 3 months ago and were previously working out of a space in this same building that got minimal natural light during the day. Spending a year working out of that particular space made me realize how crucial daylight is to my productivity and daily happiness—so I appreciate these huge windows immensely!

Biggest Challenge: The size. This studio is the absolute minimum amount of space that I need to run my business. I could definitely use more space—but I love having the Forestbound studio as a part of Fringe Union, so we make it work here.

What Friends Say: It smells so good in here! Seriously… everyone seems to love the smell of leather and old canvas.

Biggest Embarrassment: How messy it gets in here after only a few hours of working! At the end of the day it always looks like a tornado has gone through our studio.

Proudest DIY: The wood and salvaged window dividers that Jill (my assistant) and I built right after moving into this space.

Biggest Indulgence: To be honest, I haven’t really indulged in anything for my studio. I try to keep my purchases for the studio very practical and minimal so that I can spend most of my time and money on textiles.

Best Advice: Surround yourself with beautiful objects that inspire you to create.

Dream Sources: Would love a shopping spree in a large industrial salvage shop (no particular one in mind) so I could stock up on beautiful old shelving, storage, lighting, etc..


(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • BEHR Polished Pearl
  • Reclaimed wood work table: Trimount Ironworks
  • Industrial sewing machines: Advance Sewing Machine & Supply in Fall River, MA
  • Canvas baskets: Steele Canvas
  • Wood shelving: IKEA
  • Wire baskets: mostly vintage, some from HomeGoods
  • Curtains: IKEA
  • Fabric/textiles on shelves: vintage from various flea markets throughout New England
  • Canvas bags: Forestbound
  • Escape Bags: Forestbound
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The entrance to Forestbound’s studio. Alice and her assistant Jill built the salvaged window divider. (Image credit: Emily Billings)

Thanks, Alice!