The Couch Guitar Strap booth at the
NAMM (music trade) show in Anaheim in
January was set in a far corner of one of the big
convention center rooms, much akin to the company's humble
beginnings. Company founder Daniel Perkins was seeking a way
to make guitar straps with consistent
quality and, like many business owners,
decided the best way was to do it himself. He bought a sewing
machine, set it up in his garage, learned to sew and began
putting out products, with some of his
friends' help, in 1999.
"It was more of a hobby for a few
years. We would do 100 guitar straps and put
them in stores and learn how to make them. We spent
five years doing that, casual research and development without
the rush of starting a business, we were
still in the stores, getting customer
feedback," Perkins said.
By 2004, Perkins had become dedicated
to his business, although it wasn't until
2007 when he could move it to a proper space for
manufacturing in Signal Hill.
When it comes to guitar straps, plus
Couch's other lines- belts, wallets and
camera straps, it seems unlikely that there is much room
for innovation, but this is not the case here. Perkins takes pride in
his products, which are style-conscious and eco- and
economy-friendly. The lines' looks all nod to the vintage and
retro trends so hot in fashion today and 35
percent of Couch's total product is created
with repurposed materials. The key here, is the
use of dead stock (also referred to as new old stock)
"It was a matter of taste, we went into
old upholstery shops and all the vinyl I
liked I realized wasn't being made any more," Perkins
said. "I realized all my favorite colors and patterns were vintage
ones. I started realizing that there was this vinyl that had
been sitting there 35 years that no one
wanted, but I did."
Upping the repurposed materials ante,
some of Couch's camera straps are recycled
The other plus is that all of the
products are made in the United States. As
his business grew, Perkins began hiring his musician
friends and teaching them how to sew. Couch's customers have
responded that they like buying guitar straps from musicians,
as they understand the product's demands
"There's the green, humanitarian
concept, but more importantly for our
customers, if someone plays guitar there's a little more love
that's put into the production of the straps," Perkins said.
Couch has not only remained unaffected
by the current economic slump, but its
business is up. The products can be found in stores across
America, as well as in Singapore, Japan, Australia, Germany,
France and other places around the globe.
However, the biggest sales are made online
with items being shipped directly to the customer from
the manufacturing floor.
"On our Web site, you can get a USA
made limited edition product for way less
than you can get it if you got it in the store," Perkins
The ability to offer homemade goods
cheaper than his competitors, especially
those who outsource, is Couch's best asset, Perkins said.
An example of this is that Perkins and his associates spent six
months creating the "perfect wallet."
"There's a certain passion to the
construction in getting it made really
well," Perkins said. "The main point of our stuff is it should
be designed well, function well and be recyclable, everything else is
Perkins is busy building his stock back
up from Christmas sales and preparing to
find more materials for repurposing.
"There's only going to be so much found
upholstery vinyl, so we're going to be
looking for the next material to move on to. More raw
materials to repurpose into functional items will be one of our
next steps for sure," Perkins said.