Heavy Leather NYC is a boutique business creates metal and rock and roll themed custom guitar straps. Run by Greenpoint resident Rachael Becker, Each strap is hand crafted and bold in its designs. Several rock legends currently use Becker’s guitar straps including Lemmy from Motorhead, Slash from Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, and KK Downing of Judas Priest.
A lifelong New York resident, Becker initially worked in fashion after graduating college, but decided that the industry wasn’t for her.
“I liked making clothes, but didn’t like the fashion business necessarily,” said Becker. “I also knew that I wanted to be involved in music, but not in the industry side of things. Creating this business was a perfect way to combine my two loves.”
Applying her previous experience in design and with leather items, Becker started Heavy Leather NYC in the Spring of 2008. Her work captures the spirit of rock and roll through elaborate designs that include lizard skin, distressed studs and hand carving, among other items.
Initially sold exclusively through E-Bay, the business quickly grew to include international online and nationwide retail sales. In addition, she’s also gained a clientele of customers who request custom-made design work.
“One of the things that’s been exciting lately is getting to collaborate with record companies and instrument companies,” said Becker. “I’ve been making custom straps for their artists and also participating in contests and giveaways that they have.”
A guitar strap will take typically Becker anywhere from two to four hours to make, but some custom guitar straps have taken up to several days to create. She has purchased machines to make the assembly process more efficient, but also hopes to obtain more of them in the future.
“I’m really impressed with her business,” said Andres Jarregui, a client of Becker’s. “There’s usually not a lot of style and imagination in the bulk of guitar straps that are sold on racks in music stores, so her designs automatically stand out among them.”
Becker said that her aggressive approach to building her business is largely what has gotten Heavy Leather NYC off the ground so quickly. The contacts she has made with industry legends like Lemmy and Slash have come from being backstage at their shows and approaching them directly.
Becker has also secured funds for various projects on her own, using grassroots marketing tools like kickstarter.com to create awareness about her brand.
“I pitched my project to that site and they accepted it, and then I gave small items to people who donated money towards the goal I set out to raise,” said Becker.
Becker said that she will use the money from the website to attend a National Association of Music Merchants conference this January, in the hopes of expanding Heavy Leather NYC into more stores out West.
“For now, the goal is to just get my straps into as many places as possible where it makes sense to have them,” said Becker. “I’d love to get into more mom and pop shops around the city, as well as expand on my collaborations with music and record labels.”