Fashion and horses: bringing beauty out of pain
Merging her passion for fashion and horses, Cindy Gellersen has created her dream job, one accessory at a time. She resides in the heart of an equestrian district in Los Angeles, with everything she needs just steps from her home. His design studio and his beautiful bay thoroughbred, Khumba, reside in his garden. Miles of trails, public arenas and the City of Angels are at your fingertips. The journey of building his equestrian accessories business, WorkshopCGwasn’t always easy, but Gellersen was always up for it.
Welcome to Los Angeles
Born and raised in Leipzig, Germany, Gellersen first landed in Los Angeles in 2000 to study English. She returned to the Golden State a second time later that year to attend California College of the Arts School of Fashion. Subsequently, she moved to Paris to do an internship at Dior. After Paris, she finds herself again in Los Angeles in 2005.
A horse lover from a young age, Gellersen once stayed with a friend living in Riverside Rancho, a magical and historic equestrian community just 20 minutes from Hollywood. She still remembers that first ride when she discovered wide open spaces and horses roaming the city casually. It suddenly became his dream to live there.
AtelierCG was born in 2012 after Gellersen had a horrific riding accident. One night she was helping train a friend’s horse at Sunset Ranch in Hollywood, and as she was returning from Mount Hollywood, a set of flashing lights from a mountain bike spooked her friend’s horse, causing Gellersen’s horse panic.
In a moment of fear, his mount raced to the edge of a steep hill. The pair flipped and the mare landed on Gellersen, breaking her ribs and fracturing her pelvis, causing internal bleeding and further injury. Lucky to be alive, the doctors gave Gellersen a bleak future.
“They told me I couldn’t ride anymore, and I decided no, no, no, I’ll do it again,” she said.
As Gellersen recovered in the hospital, she made her very first Ride Holster bag, a leather waist pouch that is now the most popular bag she sells today.
“My sewing is terrible, but someone at the ranch asked me where they could buy it,” says Gellersen. “I found a leather factory, and they started making the first pieces. That’s how I started making equestrian handbags.
Prior to the accident, Gellersen had a business with her ex-husband creating canvas bags. Nothing serious happened with the brand, and she didn’t feel passionate.
Gellersen began writing words of affirmation, including “stay strong” and “don’t let them tame you.” She was determined not to let anyone break her spirit.
“’Don’t let them tame you’ is my company motto now,” she adds.
When Gellersen decided to really focus on growing AtelierCG, she ditched her rented horse in Hollywood to save time and money. She then realized that she was not happy without a horse in her life. Gellersen’s friends put her in touch with a racehorse trainer who offered to help her find a horse.
At the time, Gellersen was struggling to make ends meet and pay the rent. She was a single mother struggling to balance everything with two young children, Kaelen and Jade. But she found herself adding a horse to the chaos.
“I knew I needed a horse,” says Gellersen. “I needed a horse that had a big heart and was good with children. Horseback riding is therapy for me. Being surrounded by horses allows me to keep my feet on the ground.
When she first saw photos of Khumba, she thought he was absolutely gorgeous. He came straight from the racetrack without any formal training. The couple have come a long way since she bought the horse with a heart on her head, and now Gellersen regularly rides her sweet thoroughbred in Griffith Park.
Inspired by Tack
The inspiration for her chain jewelry came from Gellersen in the tack room. She likes to mix and match chains and colors.
“It all started when I was cleaning my bridle and had a bracelet in my hand,” she says. “I loved the feel of the curb chain, so I had this idea that my jewelry should be stainless steel. I love heavy metal. Gold and silver can break or bend, but not stainless steel.
One of her most popular jewelry designs is the Dreamer Necklace. Mixed metal bracelets are also very popular. Gellersen is a self-taught jewelry designer and assembles everything herself.
“It’s a challenge, but I don’t see it as a job, because I really like what I do.”
This article on fashion and horses originally appeared in the August 2021 issue of illustrated horse magazine. Click here to subscribe !