HUCKSTRAPS - Building a Brand

Every now and then a product comes along that is truly different from all the rest, one that makes me really perk up and take notice.  HUCKSTRAPS is one of those products! An incredibly clever start-up making colorful belts from 100% recycled thermoplastic. Each HUCKSTRAP arrives the same size and the ingenious way you cut it down and pop it back into the huck makes it easy to use and completely customized for you! With 25 distinct colors and interchangeable “hucks” (buckles), the potential for combinations is almost limitless.  

I’ve been wearing my HUCKSTRAPS for a few weeks now this summer and I am even more impressed than when I first saw them online.  They are comfortable, lightweight, and make a splash in any outfit.  I had a chance to interview Dustin Vann, the creative gentleman at the helm, and you can find his responses below.

Joe in "I'm Going Green" HUCKSTRAP. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I'm 27 years old, and I grew up in Birmingham, AL. Since the age of 14 I've been a thoroughbred entrepreneur, I had a lackluster attempt at a college degree in business and marketing that was thwarted by a desire to create, dream up, and build new businesses. 

I've always been a problem solver, a dreamer, and somewhat of a wanderluster. I always carry around an 'idea book' for things that I think could be remarkable and worth sharing with the world, things that I think could/should be better.

I've always considered myself fashion forward, expressive, and unabashed by the thoughts of others when it comes to fashion and style, and see it as an objective expressive art form (co-ordination, outside the realms of normal, risky, abstract, sometimes ludicrous and off the wall), and most of the time a true portrait of a person's inner self. All of that may sound shallow from the outside looking in, like I'm judging the book by the cover, but it's not that way at all. I don't judge a person by the way they dress, or by their sense of style, but there's a lot to be said for someone who is willing to put their body/image/being on the line for a certain look and present themselves to the world by saying "This is who I am!"

How did you come up with the idea of HUCKSTRAPS?

HUCKSTRAPS is an ever evolving product and lifestyle. I got the idea for HUCKSTRAPS while browsing through local department stores and examining their belt selections, I took note... They were all the same; Black, Brown, Leather, Multiple Sizes and Brands that looked exactly the same. So, I started taking pictures of these 'belt selections' all over town, and then I took to the internet and began researching 'The Belt' as a piece of fashion; it's history, it's origin, and started to believe, and conceive that it was time that this piece of fashion history have a re-birth. I began brainstorming the look (materials, colors, style, etc..) I knew it couldn't be too drastic, because 'the belt' works, it's like the wheel. We don't need another wheel, we just need variety. So I began working with different materials, had some prototypes made, worked through the design a few more times (4 prototypes), and I finally had a product that I believed was ready for the market. 

HUCKSTRAPS dressed up or dressed down. 

What has the start-up process been like?

The startup for HUCKSTRAPS has been bittersweet, we launched our business on Kickstarter in March of 2013. We had two goals in mind 1. Raise Money 2. Test the Market. In the first 10 days we were fully funded at $11,000 and trending towards $80k over a 40 day period. On day 11 Kickstarter suspended our campaign because their was a discrepancy in our layout, and we didn't see a dollar of our funding.  That was a tough pill to swallow, a pretty hard slap in the face. BUT goal number 2 was fulfilled. We knew from Kickstarter that we had a product that was ready for the market, and luckily a few others believed so as well! We could have easily re-launched our KS campaign, but instead We restructured our startup to bare bones, and launched our online store April 1, 2013 with zero inventory. Risky? Yes! But we believed in what we had, So we held a private (password protected) VIP pre-launch on our website for the original backers on Kickstarter and those willing to sign up for our email list. The VIP launch lasted 15 days, and within those 15 days with pre-orders we were able to fully fund the startup of the business (production, tooling, molds) and also expand our product line within the first 4 weeks of business to add an additional 13 colors to our initial 12 for a total of 25 colors.

HUCKSTRAPS. Now in 25 colors. 

Who designs them and how do they/you select colors?

It's a community!... We've worked with artists, industrial designers, and other creative minds to design the product(s) and decide on colors. The initial line was based on the seasons, we're aware of current trends and we wanted the colors to be vibrant statement pieces for spring and summer but also keep some of the more neutral earth tones as well. The possibilities are only limited to the mind, so we're excited about bringing new colors, designs, and other products to market. The HUCKSTRAP is truly just the beginning .

HUCKSTRAPS. Mix and match HUCKS (buckles) for new looks.

Do any stores currently carry HUCKSTRAPS? 

We're predominately an online store, However we are in a select few retailers here in the southeast; Mostly in an around Birmingham, Nashville, and the Florida Panhandle. We like to interact with our customers and build relationships; operating as on online store allows us to do that on a daily basis through social media, blogs, and other outlets. 

Andie Morgenlander in Crimson HUCKSTRAP.

Where is HUCKSTRAPS headed? 

We're going to introduce new products, new lines, and everything else that a business has to do to stay relevant, but We're also going to change the world by how we do it, because Average is Easy, and We're Awesome! 

HUCKSTRAPS is more than a product or brand. We have a vision to inspire a generation that seems to be lost in the dark. From a technology standpoint we live in a time where we have the ability and resources to reach more people, chase big ideas, and really change the world quickly if the desire is there, but it's not. I've seen my share of hardship and served in developing nations, and here in the U.S. it's tragic to see the youth not utilizing the tools that are available to affect positive change around the world. Our company motto is: Average is Easy. Be Awesome!-- and it rings true in everything that we do. We have a vision to empower a generation, and people of all ages, not only with a great product and fashion statement,  but also a message that says; WAKE UP, BE BOLD not just in how you dress but how you live your life! This world needs more visionaries, leaders, and creators...this is your time. Dream BIG and then GO chase that dream with everything you've got! 

We're also a company that gives back. You won't see it on our website, and it's not something we promote; but we have a heart for humanity and a desire to help others by giving to organizations who are serving around the world.