The Juliette Interviews: Amanda Schuon of Rivers Eight
Rivers Eight is a company founded by my friend Amanda Schoun. They design and produce handbags and travel accessories for those who crave luxury without cruelty. Meticulously handcrafted in Los Angeles, their faux skin bags celebrate the majesty of exotic creatures without negatively impacting their populations. How wonderful is that?
So to celebrate the holidays and products that practice non-cruelty – I interviewed Amanda about her process and inspiration. She was also kind enough to provide me with a list of gift ideas for the holidays which I am sharing with you. The list is below at the end of the interview. Enjoy!
JH: What was the impetus behind starting Rivers Eight?
AS: I have always appreciated fashion both as an art form and a mode of self expression. In recent years, I have become increasingly sensitive to the method in which skins were procured and processed. And it broke my heart. I stopped buying exotics…they simply lost their appeal. So when I discovered this material that so perfectly mimicked the soft beauty of an alligator’s belly, or the irregular flakes on a python, I was enthralled. Not to mention that it is nearly indestructible – and fully wipeable.
Because of the durability, we thought it was well suited for a travel collection. Some women wear fashion jewelry rather than fine when they travel, and now the same can be said for travel accessories.
JH: Who do you design your product for?
AS: Rivers Eight travel accessories are designed for men and women who seek luxury but appreciate durability. Our collection looks and feels like genuine exotic skins but the pieces aren’t precious – they can be wiped clean with a wet cloth, so toothpaste explosions, or a spilled glass of wine won’t harm the look or feel.
JH: Where do you get your inspiration from for each design?
AS: I have always been a really efficient packer, so items that do double duty are essential. Our faux python waist packs are designed for hiking during the day or exploring a new city, and then worn over the shoulder in the evening. The small clutches carry your makeup in a carry-on and then can be used for a formal dinner. The 3-in-1 bag is our bestseller, and it converts from a belt bag to a crossbody to a clutch.
JH: How is your product made? What is the process? (without giving away any secrets, of course)
AS: We build molds that are facsimiles of exotic skins such as python, lizard, alligator belly, stingray and caiman, and then hand cast the rubber in to the mold. Each “skin” is then hand painted in our specified palette. The pieces are all hand made in Los Angeles by a talented team of cutters and sewers, and we source as many elements as possible locally, including our zippers.
JH: Who is your favorite fashion designer and why?
AS: I have immense respect for Stella McCartney, who pioneered cruelty-free high fashion. She doesn’t sacrifice style, form or substance and has maintained a strictly vegan collection for over a decade.
JH: Where do you hope to see Rivers Eight in the next 10 years?
AS: We would love to continue developing styles that serve people in all aspects of their life – from their exercise life to beach life to work life to parent life to entertaining life and beyond.
Here are some gift ideas we love for the holidays:
Large “Python” Catchall Tray – $135
“Python” Waist Pack – $250
3-in-1 Bag – $365
Computer Bag – $425
If you’d like to learn more and see what other options they have to offer, visit riverseight.com