Birth Of An Idea
Our story actually begins many years ago in 1978. I had just bought my first 35 mm camera (a Minolta XG-7) and I was proud of it, and I wanted to buy a classy looking camera strap. I looked for some time, but found while there were many camera straps available, I couldn’t find one that I thought was worthy of being on my new camera. That may sound snobby, but I also noticed that the straps available at that time usually had a lot of metal hardware that would scratch the camera. Some people don’t care, but when I get something new, I like to take care of it.
So, I went to the closest Tandy Leather Store here in Indianapolis and I bought the softest black leather I could find. This happened to be cabretta leather which was even softer than some glove leather. I hand cut the pieces and then my wife, Dena, sewed it together. We didn’t know at that time but the first Action Custom Camera Strap had just been born.
The Idea Becomes a Business
Later, in the 1980’s, because of the positive reaction to my camera strap and one which I made for my friend, Larry Roberts of New Palestine, IN, (who had gotten me interested in 35 mm photography) we decided to try and make a business of making and selling custom camera and then later, guitar straps. The “we” I speak of consisted of Dena, her cousin, Paul Hilton, and myself. We named the business Action Custom Straps.
We set up a booth at different camera shows and we advertised in Modern and Popular Photography as well as American Photographer and Shutterbug. We didn’t have large ads because our budget wouldn’t allow it. We instead put our money in a color brochure which we sent when someone would respond to our ads.
In 1986, we displayed our custom camera straps at the PMA (Photo Marketing Association) Show in Las Vegas. Here, we were able to make the contacts we needed to meet independent sales representatives who would eventually cover most of the United States with our custom camera straps. At the show we also had the opportunity to talk to many major camera manufacturers, such as Nikon, Minolta, Canon and others. And while there was interest in our straps, we decided that mass production was not what we were interested in. We did and still do enjoy working with individuals most of all. In that, our philosophy has not changed. We don’t want to make the most straps, just the BEST!
Sometime later, we made one last full page flyer (right) exclusive to our camera straps. We thought it turned out pretty good. We narrowed our selections down to a few we thought were the best and YES that is dark and premium white mink on the right.
Timing Is Everything
However, in late 1986 we made the decision to suspend all operations with Action Custom Straps. We had found that it was too expensive to advertise to get individuals to write for information and then order a strap. And it was too long a process as well. And when we were selling at wholesale, and paying a commission to a sales representative, it was hard to make much money on an item that we carefully handmade. But although we “suspended” all operations with Action Custom Straps, we still couldn’t get it out of our minds that there had to be some way to make it work. In the meantime, the years roll on by.
1999 – Levi, our son, then 19, had taken an interest in collecting guitars and so when we made the decision to open Action Custom Straps again, this time taking advantage of the opportunity the Internet offers, guitar straps became our main focus. The Guild (D-35) that you see in a couple of the pictures of our guitar straps is mine. I bought it when Levi was born in 1980. The old Harmony Monterey shown in some of the pictures was my father’s. He bought it sometime in the 1940’s.
We still offer custom camera straps, and although we have redesigned them to better show off the full snakeskin inlay they are very close to the original design.
Nikki, our daughter who joined us in making our straps in May of 2002, and I build all the straps and Dena does an excellent job of sewing them. So, if you want something made just for you, give us a call!
And there you have a brief history of Action Custom Straps. Thank you for taking the time to read “Our Story!”
Terry & Dena Misner, Levi Misner and Nikki Misner Howard