My Funky Camera

American Made Since 2006

Gabriela Howe

San Diego, California
Fresh, fun and funky designs fused in to many ways to carry your camera, securely, comfortably, with the highest quality craftsmanship.
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Tell us about your business.

It started with a piece of flower ribbon I found. I wanted to sew it on to my camera strap but it was too wide. I found the right size at the local store and figure out how to make myself one. Someone in an online forum asked me if I could make her one too. I did using the remnants from mine. With the money she paid I bought more material to make 15. With that money I made 30. I did that for the rest of the year. I attended a photography class and the instructor bought 5 advising me to set up a small website. A friend helped me set it up. We went live in 2007. Magazine editors asked to review the straps. We became popular in the UK, Germany and here in the US. Eventually we made camera straps for all cameras. Military moving has kept my business vision blurry and unpredictable. Now that my husband has retired and we are settled, I would love to be able to grow and sell these Proudly American Made straps in shops all over the country.

Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.

It's a beautiful mess. I have a room in my home dedicated to my work. We sew, cut, pack, print, ship, email, social media, etc from this studio. We have two industrial sewing machines, a computer, printer and a work table. Sometimes a friend of mine helps me when we get busy. Working from home can be challenging but is also very convenient. Because of our military background we have had to close a couple of times every year. Orders slowly trickle in afterwards. These are difficult decisions that when you think about it, are not so much because is time well spent when husband comes back from deployments. There is always something to do in the studio/workshop. When sales slow down we do taxes, or organize things for a promotion or make a prototype for a new design. Prototypes are very exciting because we involve current customers and engage our social media followers in the process.

What inspires you?

Photography inspires me the most. I can't go one day without taking a photo of something or someone. Photography has been deeply rooted in my life since I was in middle school. I learned how to use the camera, develop my film and expose my images on paper. I fell in love with photography early and deeply. My favorite subjects are my family. They are all so different yet all the same. They love making things, fixing things, going places. Making camera straps just came naturally. Experimenting with the different materials, colors, textures, prototypes, tools. The love of making thinks is something my family enjoys and I love documenting the journey.

What makes your business stand out?

My customers make my business stand out. They send me amazing photos from all over the world. Also the fact that is a Hand Crafted in America business. Funky bright fun beautiful designs. These designs are high quality embroidery woven. We use heavy duty materials. Tested by professional photographers, amateurs, and mamarazi.

What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?

Lucky only happens when opportunity meets hard work. Work very hard. Stay true to yourself and your craft. If you work hard with what you have you will succeed. Don't look anywhere else for what you need. Work with what you have right now and find the way. You are your only competition. Also, there is no such such thing as balance, you can't balance life, work, hobbies, etc. Let go and enjoy the ride while you are on it.

What does American Made mean to you?

American Made to me means a lot more than national recognition. I would mean to push forward and grow. Networking with other American Made companies would be an amazing experience. To be together in one place would be a dream come true. I would love to hear their stories, their process and their journeys. I would love to learn from other American Made companies what it means to them to be Proudly made in America.

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  • Nominations
    June 3–Aug. 29, 2014

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  • Judging
    June 23–Sept. 9, 2014

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    Sept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014

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  • Winners Announced
    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.

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  • American Made Event
    Nov. 7–8, 2014

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