by Will Leather Goods Creative Team August 03, 2017



Shelly Ciszek is a sailing and photographer extraordinaire. She started sailing pretty much straight from birth with her parents and other family members, getting to sail on various different boats. On one of her travels, she took along our  Signature Canvas & Leather Cargo Tote, Washed Linen Tote, Canvas & Leather Rainier Backpack, Grady Leather Travel Kit, and Indigo North South Tote and got some amazing photos.



Grady Leather Travel Kit



When asked how she got her sailing start she said, "I have been sailing with my family off and on [since birth] on a variety of different boats, from a 125’ top sail schooner to a 22’ sloop. Sailing runs deep in my family on both is a consistent way of life in my family."


We at WILL know a lot about family and tradition seeing as we are a family owned and operated company that started on the sun-drenched streets of Venice, CA.


See below for more from Shelly, both in questions/answers and photos.



Indigo North South Tote



How long have you been sailing?

I was conceived in South Africa on The Rough And Ready, a 42’ wooden Ketch, during my Parent’s circumnavigation, and was delivered by my Father, in Curacoa, Netherland Antilles on board.
I have been sailing with my family off and on ever since on a variety of different boats, from a 125’ top sail schooner to a 22’ sloop. Sailing runs deep in my family on both sides. My Great Grandfather, on my Mother’s side, is George Kettenburg. He is a well known boat builder from San Diego. They used to own a marine store and ship yard on the San Diego Harbor.
On my Father’s side, he and his three siblings have all been long distance cruisers, including my Aunt who hand built her boat out of the trees on her property. My Cousin Sophie Ciszek was the bowman on the SCA boat in the around the world Volvo race and is a very relevant professional sailor, and her brother and his wife left the states 2 years ago on their 30’ sloop and are currently cruising around the south pacific. So sailing is a consistent way of life in my family.  


What's your favorite part about sailing?

Long distance cruising, and ocean passages, is the most powerful and obvious answer for me. The isolation of it, I suppose. When you are under the mercy of the ocean and wind, it is humbling to say the least. That feeling of insignificance, is probably the most freeing feeling. Then when you see land on the horizon, there is a whole new understanding of security.



Signature Canvas & Leather Cargo Tote



What led you to become a photographer?

In the beginning, it was a profession that coincided with the lifestyle I wanted for myself and my family. Now, I see it as an opportunity to bring awareness to things of importance, from a family run and operated leather goods company to the ever growing trash piles littering our beaches.


How do you choose your locations?

I look for patterns, colors, lighting and shadows. Whatever is aesthetically pleasing to me. It’s all a location, really. It's just about exploring whatever is in front of you.


Have you been anywhere recently, on a shoot or for fun, that you fell in love with?

I am a romantic when it comes to the wilderness in general, but I was really blown away by the beauty of Palm Desert in the spring. It wasn’t a place I thought I would feel such a strong connection to, but the sky at night, the animals and the colors of the desert, were a whole different spectrum from what I’m used to. It felt magical.


What's your favorite things to do during the summer?

So many things… Lately, I have loved rafting the rivers with my family. Both of my brother’s are fly fishing guides in Central Oregon, and it’s been fascinating to learn about these fish and their delicate ecosystems. It’s been wonderful to see the State on rivers.


Canvas & Leather Rainier Backpack



What's your favorite WILL product and why?

I use my Canvas and Leather Rainier Backpack daily as my purse. It is well worn in and has become a part of my daily life. We have shared some stories together...


We have a policy of 100% guarantee, what does quality mean to you?

More and more things are being made by cutting costs, and aiming for shorter life spans. In time, all of it will make its way into the landfills and we will have to replace them. "Money First" mentality. Quality doesn’t seem to be a priority, and this is so DEPRESSING that this is where we are as a society. It is Companies like Will Leather Goods that should be the standard for quality across the board. It is refreshing to know that quality still means something to someone.



Washed Linen Tote



For more of Shelly Ciszek, check out her travels on her Instagram s__c__p


Will Leather Goods Creative Team

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