Leaders of the Pack
Meet the dapper duo behind George Guest bags and accessories.
When avid hikerÂ George Keeler couldnâ€™t find a waterproof backpack with a bit more urban zing than the ubiquitous North Face carryall, he took matters into his own hands â€” literally. Then a sophomore at Lehigh University, the Wayland native borrowed a neighborâ€™s sewing machine, learned how to use it, and cranked out a prototype for his canvas and leather â€śHillsideâ€ť pack.
But that was just the beginning. With the help of a $5,000 grant from his collegeâ€™s entrepreneurship program, Keeler started his leather-goods line George Guest, and, after graduating in 2009, brought childhood pal Alex Schultz onboard as business director. Together the pair tweaked Keelerâ€™s bag design a dozen times.
Why so many iterations? The devilâ€™s in the details, Schultz says, and â€śall of our products have that highly engineered twist to them.â€ť
To wit: Smart backpack features include well-placed pockets and loops for sunglasses, not to mention a roll-top closure â€” secured by a unique string mechanism â€” that Keeler and Schultz are patenting. Beyond bags, the two offer belts and bracelets with exposed stitching, and are also planning to add a duffel and a convertible briefcase to the line later this year.
The George Guest aesthetic is classic New England: understated, handsome, and practical. â€śEverything we make, we love to wear and use,â€ť Keeler says. â€śWe wouldnâ€™t design something we didnâ€™t have a passion for.â€ť
George Keeler: A surfing trip to Costa Rica.
Alex Schultz: A JohnnyLove winter coat from Louis.
Fave local designer?
G.K.: Eric Heins of Corter Leather.
A.S.: Gary Drinkwater.
G.K.: â€śTwin Donuts [laughs]. Just Newbury Street and the Back Bay â€” I love walking around outside.â€ť
A.S.: Lucca, for the drinks and mussels.
Describe your style.
G.K. â€śIâ€™m a simple, classic New England dresser: jeans and button-downs, with a lot of earth tones.â€ť
A.S.: â€śI like to think Iâ€™m versatile. Itâ€™s getting cold, so I might go into the mountain-man look â€” grow the beard out and get some beanies.â€ť
Craft beer of choice?
G.K.: Cape Ann Brewing Company Fishermanâ€™s IPA.
A.S.:Â Pretty Things.
Available at Backwater Trading Company, Uncle Peteâ€™s, Drinkwaterâ€™s, and at georgeguestusa.com.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2012/01/hiking-gear-leaders-of-the-backpack/