Alice Saunders started Forestbound bag company back in 2007. She still cuts and stitches her line of Forestbound originals herself, all made from found and salvaged textiles she scouts from all over the Northeast. In addition to her one-of-a-kind pieces, Alice makes the wildly popular ESCAPE carry-all bag, and has collaborated with iconic brands like Levi’s, Patagonia, Ked’s and the New England Patriots.
Before the Covid-19 crisis, we caught up with Alice in her Somerville, Massachusetts studio to chat about how she and her partner Greg cook and unwind, in their cozy cabin in the New Hampshire Lakes Region.
Photo: Alice Saunders
CS: Tell me about your kitchen setup in the cabin.
AS: It’s very basic. We have no running water, and no electricity. But we have a sink in the kitchen. We bring in all of our own water in big 8-gallon jugs that we fill up with a spigot at home in Boston, and we have about 4 of those at all times. We use a pressurized shower basically — it’s like a camping shower — where you press it with a pedal, and it has a hose with a nozzle at the end. So we put that under our sink and thread up the hose and use it like you would a faucet.
CS: What kind of food do you make?
AS: There is a local market in our super tiny town. Greg and I try really hard to cook with like 75% things we get there. We get a lot of sausages and hamburger. We don’t really eat meat at home, but there is something about cooking a sausage that’s from the cows 2 miles down the road. It really makes us feel a part of this little community that we love so much.
The main thing about the cabin in general is both Greg and I really love the problem solving piece of it. We are at the cabin, it’s totally off-grid, and we have to come up with these systems that work for us. Yeah, it can be kind of hard, but you can embrace it and enjoy the challenge of it.
CS: It looks like you have guests out there. Tell me what that’s like.
AS: It can be a little overwhelming because we cook so basic, but everyone that we have over, really embraces it, and really loves it. Sometimes Greg will just make a platter of sausages and veggies, and it’s just kind of a communal plate.
CS: Even when you cook on camp stove, it somehow looks like a lifestyle spread in a magazine. How do you make everything in your living spaces look so beautiful and simple?
AS: I’m very mindful of only bringing in pieces that I’m really excited about, and that make me happy, and that I feel connected to, especially at the cabin. Most of what we have there comes from the antique store in town, or yard sales — or the dump in town has a great swap shop. So most of the dishes and glasses and silverware and stuff comes from town. I also incorporate flowers from farms around the cabin.
CS: Do you have any tips for people who are still trying to find that for themselves? Maybe they are starting to buy dishes and homeware and find their style. How did that develop for you, or is that just a knack that you naturally have?
AS: I really enjoy Instagram and get a lot of inspiration from it, but I try to really be mindful of how I’m influenced by what I see. When I look around, everything is there for a reason and not just because it looks cool, or because I saw it on Instagram and had to have it. It can be a tricky thing to navigate. I get a lot of inspiration from books that I’ve collected.
Photo: Alice Saunders
Alice's Off-the-Grid Essentials
“The people we bought the cabin from left this little portable grill, the kind that takes the little green propane tanks. We cook mostly on this, or over the fire
“We have two coolers, one for food and one for drinks, and this buildout we were mindful of having a place for each so we could easily slide them in and out.”
“This is one of our favorite things, we do a lot of super-buttery cinnamon and sugar toast.”