By Tom McHale
USA –-(Ammoland.com)- Don’t let the lame-stream media fool ya. If you’re willing to put in some hard work and get creative, you can do just fine.
At this year’s NRA Annual Meeting in St. Louis, the American Dream was alive and well. We met dozens of entrepreneurs who simply refused to accept the status quo. New ideas. New products. And new passion. It was awe-inspiring.
A shining example of the American can-do attitude is Looper Brand Holsters – now run by the dynamic, and quite insane, team of Bart and Lisa Looper. You may know them from their law enforcement heritage. You may know them from the new Flashbang concealed carry holster for women. We got to know them a whole lot better at the NRA Annual Meeting in St. Louis. Here’s the scoop…
My Gun Culture: I see from the Looper Brand website that your company was founded in 1938. Neither of you looks nearly that old. What’s the secret? Human growth hormones? Organ replacement? Bionics? Do you want to comment on this?
Lisa Looper: I’m wise beyond my years… Just kidding! Actually we’re the 3rd generation. My husband Bart’s family started the business in 1938. Then later his dad took over, and then we took over about 7 years ago.
Bart Looper: Since then we’ve been running it and taking the company in new directions. We started out in western belts, watchbands, and ladies’ handbags. Through the years we went from that to doing a little work for the FBI in the ’50s. Then my father, who was in law enforcement reserve for 40 years took the company into law enforcement products. We ended up in mostly concealed carry and law enforcement products.
MGC: Looking at your website, and there’s two – FlashbangHolster.com and LooperBrand.com, it’s clear you make everything under the sun. How on earth do you guys decide where to invest your time and efforts?
Bart: That’s actually really hard because I tend to be way more emotional and Lisa tends to be way more business-like. I want to hold on to the past and say “No, we have to make the wallets we’ve been making for 50 years.” Even though I know they are losing us money. Lisa and our production manager will slap me upside the head once in a while and say “we’re not making money on that so we can’t do it anymore.” It’s hard to look at the company from a business perspective and sometimes move on from our past. Now we have to really stop and consider, “How can we arm all of the good guys? Especially since we’re so focused on law enforcement and concealed carry products.”
MGC: So you’ve already completed the mission of arming all of the bad guys?
Bart: Yes! Yes.
Lisa: The market ran dry on bad guys.
Bart: We usually don’t have to worry about the bad guys. You know, they stick the gun in the front of their pants, it goes off, and the problem takes care of itself…
MGC: I couldn’t help but notice that with the broad array of products you have that you sell both sexy gun holsters that go in underwear AND you also sell handcuffs. To me, and maybe it’s just me, that’s kind of a scary combination. What kind of creepy phone calls do you get?
Lisa: You know, it’s been a while since we got one. I guess it’s been about 3 or 4 years. We did have a guy call us and ask if we could make harnesses for men that, ummm, were on the wild side…
Bart: And my aunt was still partly in the business and she took it on as a side project. She actually did it and they made some interesting products in army green, inmate jumpsuit orange, and some police black, and some different things with some really interesting tie downs and straps. But of course, we’ve never actually done that under the Looper brand name.
MGC: We visited your booth at this years SHOT Show and saw a bunch of new products specifically for ladies in The Pin Up Collection – like The Marilyn, The Annie-O, The Sophia, and The Betty. You may know this already, but the world-famous @SavannieOakley on Twitter works with us and so we’re thinking that maybe you’ll make a custom holster called the Savannie Oakley? Obviously, it would have to be a concealed holster for a Smith & Wesson 500. Any ideas or plans on that?
Lisa: Maybe a sword style, down the leg rig?
Bart: I don’t know, I did see Lisa put a Smith & Wesson 500 in her bra in a Flashbang holster one time, but that was on a dare and there may have been some cocktails involved… Yeah.
MGC: Of all the new models in the Pin-Up Collection – 5 including the Flashbang – which one is getting the most attention?
Lisa: The Flashbang of course is the leader because it’s been out for about a year now, but The Betty and The Marilyn are close on its heels. The Marilyn is made to go on the side more like a shoulder holster. It mounts on the bra. The Betty is an inside the waistband type holster.
MGC: So The Marilyn is the one you were telling me about that is accessible from the top. So if a woman was wearing a long dress or other clothing that would prohibit access to the Flashbang, then they might consider The Marilyn?
Lisa: Right. It’s accessible through the neck opening. The Betty is for more traditional waist carry.
Bart: We’ve had so much response from men about The Betty that we’re going to have to repackage it under a different name. Guys just aren’t willing to buy a holster called The Betty!
MGC: Oh! We got it! How about The Bert and Ernie!
Bart: Yeah! Done!
MGC: We’ll work out a royalty deal on that name we just gave you. Speaking of The Betty… Lisa you mentioned that for women especially, that straight drop (or straight cant) holsters are more useful. Can you help our readers understand this?
Lisa: Yes. It’s generally because we have a shorter torso and a more curvy situation of course. So when a woman tries to draw from a forward cant, it torques the shoulder and arm more. You really have to raise your elbow up high to draw from a forward cant. If you’re drawing from a straight cant you can keep the arm down at your side and pull the gun straight out and bring it forward in an easier manner.
MGC: Bart. Looper has a lot of women’s holsters in the new line. Have you ever thought about some discreet carry holsters for the guys like the Jock Jammer or something like that?
Bart: No, because Lisa says it won’t make us any money! You know, half of our company’s business is now the women’s line. Look at our booth here – there’s nothing that says “Looper” specifically – it’s all Flashbang branded. So I’m going to try some new things for men but I’m probably going to get shot down!
MGC: Lisa, keeping in mind that our site is PG rated, how many guns can you carry in your underwear?
Lisa: I think the most I’ve ever had on is 7!
MGC: Tell us about your relationship with Blade-Tech. We love those folks! Some great products have come out of that partnership – in fact I’m wearing one now – the Looper / Blade-Tech leather/kydex gun belt.
Bart: About 2 years ago, Ryan Preece, Rock Star from Blade-Tech – you can take that in jest if you want to – got a directive to add belts to the Blade-Tech line. They researched about seven different companies online and placed orders anonymously. When he got the belts, he liked ours the best and recognized our high level of customer service. Then he called us and told us Blade-Tech wanted to carry our product. I just about dropped the phone. Over the past two years, we’ve developed a mutual partnership. Now, we help them with leather and they help us with Kydex products. We work together on the hybrid holster, the hybrid belt, and we have a bunch of new belts in the line. And a top-secret new holster product…
MGC: So what’s next for Looper Brand?
Bart: We plan to continue to grow the women’s line of course. And we’re having a lot of success picking up new retail partners who want to sell made in the USA, family-owned company products with a great reputation for quality and customer service.
MGC: I hear you guys have gone Hollywood. What’s the scoop?
Lisa: Well NCIS Los Angeles contacted us and said that one of their characters was going to be drawing from a bra holster in an upcoming episode. After doing some research, they came across the Flashbang and were impressed by it. They decided to showcase it on the show!
MGC: One last question. Do you two ever sleep?
Bart / Lisa: No!
Thanks to Bart and Lisa for being such good sports. We wish them MUCH continued success and a bit more sleep…
About Tom McHale
Tom McHale describes himself as a conservative gun-totin’ bible-clingin’ literary assault dude who enjoys finding humor in just about anything. His web blog My Gun Culture is an irreverent, twisted look at gun news bordering on the ridiculous. It covers shootin’ stuff, loud noises, defending your own, the occasional mall ninja, and about 200 years of the American way. “These are the (partially) true stories of… My Gun Culture” says Tom. Visit: www.mygunculture.com