Interview with Jodi Head, Owner and Creator
How did you get into the strap biz?
I fell into the strap business by chance. I was hand-beading bustiers during the mid-80s for Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel. I had some nice success with my bustiers, which were featured in the top fashion magazines including British, Italian and American Vogue, Elle, Self, Interview and Paper. They were also featured in some movies like Joe vs. the Volcano. I really love hand beading. It’s a magical experience for me, but with the bustiers it was a very limited niche market. I was heavily into music and musicians and a dear friend of mine asked me to bead him a strap. As the bustiers were becoming somewhat passe and the straps seemed to fit my personality and as I started making them for my friend, I saw the response and took the clue to make a few more. From those first few beaded straps, I managed to hook a few rather impressive players: Buddy Guy, Keith Richards, Arlen Roth, Lucinda Williams, Lenny Kravitz, Kim Richie, Patty Griffin , Emmylou Harris—the beaded straps were my first step into the strap world.
Who influences you artistically?
I went to Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. I am very influenced by folk art, and pop art like Warhol. I so enjoy mixed media, and have come to really appreciate Basquiat; he was very primitive and tribal. I’m somewhat all over the map myself. I love religious art, especially the Virgin Mary, Guadeloupe.
I am also very influenced from art that I see walking the streets of NYC. I’m completely inspired. Once a week, I take a subway about 10 miles maybe 15 miles away and walk back home. I love walking looking at nature. Guitar straps are a very small space and while the artwork is compact, the details make the strap. Everything I see is a possibility for a strap and I make a lot of mental notes, a virtual notebook; think of it as a Rolodex in my head of fabrics, material, themes and straps I’ve created in the last 15 years. I lay them out in my head and see them blank, with some designs, and then I walk and see what happens. I have a route I follow, it usually involves lunch and walking from Brooklyn back to the East Village. My last really incredible straps emerged out of a trip back from the emergency room, all of a sudden I had a few thought that I designed in my head, made some notes, and went into the studio at 2am. One never knows when a reissue or a completely new strap line is happening, it just happens. My grandmother was the lead dancer in the Zigfield Follies … her style is a constant, everyday huge influence in my life. She was a beautiful, stylish, stunning lady. I hand-beaded my bustiers with her in mind, as if I was making her costumes. As far as I’m concerned, all performers need the right tools; the importance of the right stage gear will make or break the performer.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Definitely country artists like Tammy, Dolly and Loretta, Johnny Cash—rockabilly. I really have strange, diverse musical interests. Folkie, jazz, southern rock.
You’ve worked with many top artists.
Yes, and really no horror stories to be told! I’ve been very fortunate with all my artists. Once I started to hear how the color of the strap matched their outfit, both for men and women, I knew I was in. I see the art come to life on stage and homework is done. I hope the artist will get me a photo, and I move on. All of my artists are really incredibly kind and supportive. I feel truly blessed to have such incredible artists modeling my straps.
What makes your straps unique?
My custom hand-beaded guitar straps are all one-offs. They are all different and these straps are definitely a commitment. I have several patterns, from which the colors can change or be somewhat modified, but they change and mold their shape as I’m hand-beading each strap. I work with Austrian glass seed beads and Austrian crystal. These straps are my top-of-the-line Custom Shop creations. A beaded strap can take anywhere from one to two months to make. These designs are patterns similar to Haitian folk art with flags and tribal images. I suppose one would see a bit of New Orleans style of Mardi Gras Indians. I also hand-bead my “name straps”. Both these styles of beaded straps are the ultimate accessory for any serious guitar player.
What are you doing when not beading and running your business?
When I’m not making guitar straps, I’m usually hanging out with my dog RJ Cash at the park, out on the bike and relaxing …