Q&A with b.i.t.s. founder Cindy Gellersen
A few months ago when Cindy Gellersen and I first began exchanging emails regarding a feature I was preparing for her luxury LA handbag line BAGSTIL, there was a gap in our correspondence. When our email exchange resumed Cindy informed me that the reason for the lag was due to a tumultuous horseback riding accident she had experienced that left her with a broken pelvis. A firm believer that life is not shaped by the blows we endure, but rather by the way in which we react, Cindy used her fall as the catalyst to create a line of luxury riding accessories.
Following her steadfast recovery, Cindy’s friend compiled a slideshow of the first time Cindy re-mounted a horse. The photo montage was aptly titled “Back in the saddle,” and Cindy claimed the mantra’s acronym as the name for her line. A true labor of love, b.i.t.s. features handcrafted unisex leather riding chaps, belt bags and saddle bags constructed from marlboro leather sourced in Los Angeles.
Haute Americana: How old were you when you first began horseback riding?
Cindy Gellersen: When I was riding my bicycle as a kid I would always imagine that the bike was my horse and that we were racing across the fields! I eventually started riding on a real horse when I was 15.
HA: Do you currently own any horses?
CG: I have a red Arabian in Switzerland. She is a beautiful mare. Unfortunately I don’t own a horse in LA, but I have been taking care of horses owned by friends at the Hollywood Sunset Ranch. For me, this is the most magical place in the Hollywood Hills.
HA: What happened on the day of your riding accident?
CG: I went out riding with a friend and on our way back the horses got spooked. I was riding close to the edge of a hillside when my horse lost her balance and we both tumbled down the hill. I remember that I hit the ground first and then everything went in slow motion as my horse was falling toward me. She ended up falling on my right side. I did not feel any pain at this point, just a lot of pressure. My initial concern was that she was okay, fortunately she got up immediately. It was as if she was walking in a cloud or in fog. I was a little scared that she would walk over me, but instead she put her head down and stayed with me until my friend came. After awhile the ambulance, the fire trucks, and a helicopter arrived. I was in major pain by now! My riding pants and boots got cut open and I was airlifted to the emergency room.
The recuperation period seemed to last forever, but I think I was all good after about 3.5 months.
HA: After you recuperated from the accident were you hesitant to get back in the saddle?
CG: I could not wait to get back in the saddle! And I felt much better in the saddle than when I was walking.
HA: Your new line embodies the mantra of facing your fears and challenging the obstacles life puts in front of you, how important do you think it is for others to adapt this way of life?
CG: I believe it is very important. Overcoming your fears definitely makes you stronger.
Shop b.i.t.s. in its entirety here.