It has been a long and complicated journey to the retail market and we have finally arrived. For those of you who prefer to feel the quality and craftsmanship of our straps in person, be sure to head over to your local camera store. If they don't yet carry our straps, be sure to let them know you want them! We will have an full updated list on our website.
Since a post without photos is no fun at all. Here are a few shots from today's visit to the metal fabricator. Jeff Captain over at Accuweld is doing an amazing job with our new retail racks. They are heading to powder-coat today!
Goodbye lousy hand straps! After numerous protos and a ton of great feedback, we are thrilled to announce a new line for Riley G; gorgeous, all leather, made with love, hand straps. Unlike most hand straps on the market, ours features two separate channels of webbing to distribute that 20lb camera across the back of your hand. These bad boys are perfect for those looking for some amazing comfort and of course... some Riley G style. We will be filling out the line with a few more color options as well as a few racers throughout the spring. Meanwhile, you can find the oil leather pictured below live on our storefront today.
We want to give a shout out to our friends over at Jolie Wraps. They are hooking you up with a sweet credit towards their awesome boxes and packaging products. All you need to do is Tweet:
@Riley_G_straps loves @myjoliewraps
One lucky Tweet will receive a $100 credit: http://twitter.com/myjoliewraps.
We are always excited when someone comes along with a custom request. We are a very small company and pride ourselves on the fact that we can accommodate custom requests. Regina Holder wanted us to make two straps that match her logo and we think we got pretty close. We also did a custom racer for June Adcox, a killer teal racer with a silver sparkle stripe. Lastly, we decided to have some fun with some green sparkle. We have three more colors with the Paisley design. Check them our at our store this week. Thanks again Regina and June.
Our first step into the retail world took place at the PMA 2010 show in Anaheim this past weekend. Over three days, I collected close to 100 business cards and shook twice as many hands. It was a great start for us and we were thrilled by the feedback we received. Photographers, press, independant sales reps, national distributors, camera store owners and even PMA speakers offered plenty of love and we were honored to accept a PMA 2010 HOT PICK award. Riley even showed up for a few hours to show his support; pulling all the straps down and running around like a crazy man.
The images below show one of our artisans hand punching the holes through which each grommet is placed and yes, that is a piece of chalk. I'm guessing you already know that our straps are made by hand right here in the Southern California, however, I would like to use this as an illustration to support our reasoning for raising our pricing. After our first year in business, I have finally tallied all of our ongoing costs vs. our sales and realized, RileyG won't be in business much longer unless we make some changes. Taking our manufacturing out of the US is out of the question. We believe our customers will recognize the level of quality we offer and are willing to pay a premium for it. So, we are giving everyone a heads up; as of March 1st, we will be raising the sale price of all of our camera straps. We are taking the path less traveled and we are confident most of you will follow us. As always, we are open to hearing your questions, thoughts and complaints.
With the world of retail looming over RileyG, we decided to look into hang tags and packaging for our straps. We looked at custom tags, custom labels, designer packaging and gorgeous letterpress products. The only problem, these shiny things cost big $$$$! I realized, this was going to add several dollars per strap to our cost basis. I found a generic shipping catalogue on my desk and began sifting through their products and found the perfect solution: drawstring burlap bags for $.30 each and generic manila shipping tags for pennies. We have amazing, designer camera straps and I believe our customers will be happy to save a few dollars on their purchase and skip the high-gloss packaging. We are all about value here and we would rather invest those dollars back into the craftsmen of our community. That's where Sean and his team at FWD Screen Printing came into play. He took the time to print our small batch of 200 bags and did an amazing job. I had called him Friday of last week and he had these babies finished in one day. When you purchase a RileyG camera strap, you are supporting small American businesses and people like Sean. Below, a few shots of our burlap bags, hang tags and our new friends at FWD Screen Printing.
The PMA show is less than two weeks away so Riley and I are running around like crazy trying to get everything together. There are going to be lots of people asking us important questions and we want to look like we know what we are doing. We decided to ramp up numbers on our stock camera straps. Our shipment came in and we had a great time checking quality... been-bag style. If your strap has a little tried booger on it... this might be the reason.
Riley and I had some time on our hands along with our spankin' new Polaroid 350, so we thought we might go to the park and run some film through that boy. The camera needed a dusting off too so it all worked out just fine. We have been hearing about people wanting to see more of the straps in action, so here's a few of our favorites with the burgundy and silver racer camera strap. I even caught Riley chimping at the camera back... kids these days!
The world of cutting edge design is calling so we couldn't help but take a day and drive up to what is arguably the center of West Coast fashion. Yelena from Stylish Soiree showed us around and as we explored the expansive 90 blocks of fabric stores, wholesale shops, retail stores, designers, manufacturing and back-alley knock-offs. Riley had a blast from the start by chasing two chickens around our rooftop parking spot (what country are we in anyways?). Here are some of the highlights.
We are proud to announce we have discovered a great new grommet that we will be using on all our straps. The silver grommets are now Nickel plated and tarnish free. Additionally, we now have a black grommet that will be used on all of our Speed Racer straps. Black on black baby! We are finally growing up and will be sewing our labels onto the back of each strap. Many of the photogs sporting these straps have their own branding, so we want to be sure to be discreet, but present. Lastly, it might be old news by now; we have moved to a 100% pig suede for the backing of every camera strap. It is a little pricey, but this is the softest leather we could find. It also provides plenty of grip for those who prefer to wear their strap hanging off one shoulder. If anyone has any thoughts about all these changes, please don't hesitate to drop us a line. These straps are made for you, so speak up!
Kelly of Mountain Dog Photography emailed over a few fabulous shots of her new camera straps. We put together a special connector for her Hassy and she seems very happy with solution we came up with. I'll let Kelly tell you in her own words:
"I received your message tonight and wanted to write a quick note of thanks and send along a couple of pictures. I also left a glowing comment on your Facebook group. The straps arrived late last week while I was out of town so they were a very nice surprise when I got back. These straps are really amazing. They're exceptionally well crafted, comfortable, and the look is unbeatable. Having a strap made from an '80's Mercedes on an '80's Hassy is just too cool! And the retro Rockets suits my ol' Rapid Omega perfectly! I really appreciate your excellent communication and obvious dedication to your customers."
We have been getting lots of interest in our new line of hand straps, so here is a sneak peak at one of our first prototypes. Our goal is to build a style foreword hand strap that is super comfy and easy to use. To accomplish this, we are integrating two key design aspects. First we are placing the plastic buckle at the bottom of the strap, away from all the action. For some reason, most hand straps have the adjustment at the top near the thumb and forefinger.... why? Also, we are routing the 3/8" webbing along two different paths along the back of the hand, distributing the weight of the camera over a wider area which will be the perfect comfy factor in hand with genuine lamb leather and a thin layer of foam. If you use hand straps, be sure to let us know what's on your wish list. Thoughts?
Well, the digital press, which can be just as good these days! I had the pleasure of meeting Don Chick at WPPI 2009 and ended up showing him a few of our newly-born camera straps. Don traveles the globe teaching lighting and writes for PPA. I sent a few straps his way and he ended up writing a little article about us in the online PPA magazine. Thanks Don!
I've finally had a chance to catch up on stitching together some new materials we picked up last week including a super-sweet red Porche seat and a textured crimson velvet. We have been getting orders in slowly, which is a good thing. We will be meeting up with a few local sewing contractors about getting a little help. I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile, here's a preview of the new additions as well as a few shots of Riley... enforcing some quality control.
So up to this point, finding the right resources locally, has been pretty simple. Now that our volume has begun to creep up, I'm finding myself looking for a little help. I will probably always make the one-up and limited edition straps right here in the garage, however, I just don't have time to make all of them. So, what to do? After making a few calls, it looks painfully obvious why EVERYTHING is made in the Orient. The funny thing is, how do I know where that plastic clip came from? I bought it down at the local store, but I have a feeling, it didn't come from Encinitas, California! I don't want to start making excuses just yet, so I'm going to keep looking around and calling US based sewing contractors, see if there is a solution that will work for us. Meanwhile, here is a shot of Riley on an old chair we found outside Tony's shop. Riley and I both agree, this swanky, velvety, years-of-butt-sanding-soft material belongs on a RileyG camera strap... not in the dumpster!
It was a bit of a push, but somehow we got everything together just in time for WPPI in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Riley himself couldn't make it, so I had to represent: I flew in Monday morning and stayed a quick 36 hours, just enough time to catch up with all my photog peeps, pass out 1,000 RileyG post cards, two rides on that crazy N.Y. N.Y. roller coaster (Kat you ROCK!) and squeeze in one night of tearing up the dance floor. I met a TON of fabulous photogs and made some great connections. We gave away a "Bronica Lovin'" strap at Doug Gordon's seminar along with a ton of promo-cards to a sea of eager photogs (visual below). I'm thrilled at the feedback we got and charged up for the next round of challenges.