Lake-area Residents Create Bags from Used Sailboat Sails

How one local company reuses sailboat sails while showcasing its lake-area pride.

It’s appropriate that lake-area residents Kathy and Bill Tomlinson are now making fashionable bags out of recycled sails since they met as competitors in the Yngling Fleet at the Minnetonka Yacht Club. But the idea started in 2008 when they made backpacks  out of Dacron and Kevlar sailcloth to sell at the Opti National Championship Regatta. “The bags were a hit and we completely sold out of our inventory. We knew we were onto something,” Bill Tomlinson says. But it wasn’t until 2012 that the couple decided to create a business in recycled sail products and opened a web store for Boathouse Bags. The process really is a joint effort with Tomlinson cutting the materials for the designs that Kathy has created. “Most of the materials come from sails that have been used on sailboats in the Twin Cities or Apostle Islands,” he says. Today, Boathouse Bags boasts a stylish selection of several bag sizes, including the ReSail Wristlet ($15)—a small zip-top purse—and the Extra-Large Beach Bag with a full zipper closure and rustic, adjustable rope handles ($125). We also love the Boathouse Messenger Bag that doubles as a computer bag ($60). Boathouse Bags can be found at Brightwater Clothing and Gear, Sun & Ski, Cottagewood General Store in Deephaven and online. You can also check out Boathouse Bags at the Duluth Tall Ships Festival this month from July 24–30.