Sagebrush Board Bags is a small business with a big message created by Topanga Canyon local Anna Ehrgott. Her idea began with a strong passion for the environment and her talent on a sewing machine. As a surfer, she realized there were few environmentally friendly options in the surf industry for board bags.
Over time, she has continued to develop her practice of manufacturing handmade board bags crafted almost entirely of eco-friendly and recycled materials. She’s not looking to make a profit, she’s simply hoping to make a difference, while encouraging others to be more environmentally conscious and community minded. Plus, if you ever have the pleasure of meeting Anna in the lineup, her friendly personality and genuine smile will quickly capture your attention.
Anna took a moment to answer a few questions for The Surf Channel about her business, lifestyle, and goals.
Can you tell us about where you grew up?
Anna Ehrgott (AE): I grew up in Topanga Canyon, a small town outside of LA, It’s a bubble filled with fresh air and good people. Disconnected from LA, artists, musicians and creatives find inspiration and retreat in the canyon. It’s a good life, I’m so thankful to have been raised there.
Tell us how you got into surfing.
AE: I was more of a swimmer and a runner until I was introduced to surfing. I was really shy in high school. I’d surf alone and barely talked to anyone in the water. I surfed a pretty localized spot (not so much anymore), I rode a 5’11’’ T. Patterson thruster with an elephant painted on it. The waves were fickle and broke over sharp rocks with an appetite for surfer’s feet. Surfing is a completely different thing for me now. I ride longboards, fishes and eggs. Drive hours up and down the coast for waves. My closest friends are water people. It’s a positive outlet, I grew my roots in it and I feel at home with the surfing community.
When did you begin sewing?
AE: My Grandma taught me when I was really young. I loved going to her house in the Palisades, we’d pick pomegranates off the tree and she’d help me sew little projects..pillows mostly. She has an amazing collection of fabrics and materials we’d sew on her vintage Singer sewing machine.
Where did the inspiration come from for the creation of your products?
AE: Originally it stemmed from a necessity for a product that wasn’t out there. Now I just keep testing things and improving the board bags. Learning a lot about fabric has helped. As much as I love design, most of it is understanding the functionality of things.
What makes your board bags ecofriendly?
AE: Everything but the thread. The coffee bean sacks are from a local organic coffee roaster, the outer fabric is either excess from Wildfox denim, vintage, or remnants from bigger brands. The liners, drawstrings, cord stops, and trim are all factory excess as well.
What is so important about being environmentally conscious?
AE: It’s the thing that matters most to me. I wouldn’t be who I am without the experiences in nature I’ve had, and I want that to be left for other beings to enjoy. I feel like corporations have it all backwards. A system that constantly needs to be growing and expanding and taking from the environment isn’t sustainable. We’re not going to have anything left, no groundwater, the rivers will be polluted, the oceans will be trashed, forests cut down. It’s gonna get worse in our lifetime unless people stop and realize what’s important. There’s an illusion that we control the environment, but we’re just making it harder for ourselves and other species to continue. If every business lessoned their profit a percent or two and gave back, or took less in the first place, invested in organic cotton, stopped dumping their waste etc., we could all reverse the damage we’ve done. It’s possible, if we make all the little everyday changes, that we can restore the health of the planet.
What was it like making your first bag?
AE: The first one I made was with thrifted burlap and a green fabric with a liner. The design hasn’t changed much, but they’re a lot sturdier and functional now. I’ve always sewn little things like pillows, totes and makeup bags, so trying a board bag wasn’t impossible, just a lot of fabric to fit through a small sewing machine.
Is each bag special to you?
AE: Definitely! I try so hard to think about the personality of each person, and use that to craft something that reflects them. I made a board bag for a girl who had just moved to California from Hawaii, I used vintage Hawaiian fabric. That was one of my favorites. I have a teal fabric that I’m obsessed with, and every bag I’ve made with it, I just want to keep!
What’s your support system like?
AE: My parents probably wish I didn’t drop out of college to surf every day, but I think they see the passion in my intensions and are starting to accept that I’m not a 9 to 5er. I think it’s hard for a lot of people to understand that my main goal isn’t to make money. I’d rather be rich with experiences and memories. The surfing community poured support into Sagebrush before I even knew it to be a viable business.
What are your future goals as an artist?
AE: Support my friends, fellow small businesses and non profits. Use my business and lifestyle as a model to promote enjoying and protecting the outdoors.
Where can buyers find your bags?
AE: They’re in a few California surf shops: Bing Surf Shop in Encinitas, Wetsand in Ventura, Iron and Resin in Ventura, Sawyer Supply in Santa Cruz, and Mollusk Surf shop Venice, Silver Lake and San Francisco. Or my website: sagebrushbags.com