The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: Jodi Head Guitar Wear Founder and Owner, Jodi Head
Ever watched Melissa Etheridge, Emmylou Harris or Sheryl Crow on stage and noticed a beautiful, gleaming guitar strap? That’s the work of Jodi Head.
And the ladies aren’t the only guitarists donning her designs. A who’s who of male musicians proudly wear Head’s straps too – from Robert Plant to Elvis Costello to David Bowie.
Getting her start in the fashion industry where she made custom beaded bustiers, Head’s early work was featured in Vogue and recognized around the world before she shifted gears to strap-making. Created by Head and her small team in New York City, the Jodi Head guitar strap is now part of rock ‘n’ roll history.
Below we chat with Jodi Head to get some insight into how it all came together. For more, visit www.jodihead.com.
WiMN: What led you to making guitar straps?
JH: I’m a hand-beader by trade. I ended up hand-beading crystal and glass seed bead bustiers during the ‘80s for Henri Bendel and Bergdorf Goodman in NYC. My bustiers were featured in many fashion mags such as Vogue and Harper’s. The bustiers were a very narrow market for me, and the guitar straps seemed like a nice fit and a great way to utilize my craft in a stimulating field. Plus I was surrounded my musicians.
WiMN: An incredible list of musicians have worn your straps. How did you manage to get your straps in the hands of such high profile stars?
JH: I’m pushy! I was lucky – and have been lucky – to always have friends that were in the industry. The artists sorta showed up. One of the incredible things about the music industry, which differs from the fashion industry, is that musicians need straps. (Most of them don’t need beaded bustiers!)
Once I was introduced through my straps to Lucinda Williams, the ball started rolling with other artists. The Nashville community came forward and wanted similar straps.
WiMN: Do you play an instrument?
JH: No. I’ve tried to understand the process, but it’s not for me. I know colors, styles, models, brands, hardware – everything. I’m fascinated with the colors and the hues and matching straps with them.
WiMN: Tell us about a female musician you’ve seen recently that blew you away.
JH: Well, that would have to be Rosie Flores. She played here in NYC on a bill with Dale Watson during the Winter. She was so thrilling and badass. She wasn’t wearing my strap but I totally admired her. I love rockabilly and Rosie really puts on a great show.
WiMN: Who are some of your female heroes in the music industry?
JH: I’m a huge fan of country music and I know I’m living in the wrong town! Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Kim Richie – all very supportive ladies that inspire me to make my straps. Of course Joan Jett, Shelby Lynn, Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge have been incredibly supportive too. I feel proud to see my work on these ladies.
I get to see how my straps become part of the artists’ set up and their stage wear, and then I design and create stage wear for them. It really is amazing to see your product come to life on stage, and to have an artist wear your product is truly fantastic.
WiMN: Can you share your experience as a woman in the industry? Have there been any challenges?
JH: Depending on what day you speak to me I’m thrilled, other times I’m completely aggravated dealing with the challenges that unfortunately exist for most people in business. A small business has so many challenges.
I have had my share of dealing with people that I’ve had to be a bit extra aggressive with, due to that fact I’m a woman. Why is it that if a man is upset it’s all cool, but if a woman gets upset she’s a bitch? Sometimes women are still treated like groupies – but I’m 52, placing my straps on artists and not looking for anything else. One has to be very, very clear. The artists I work with know my motives and why I’m in this business.
At the end of the day, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work in this industry and share my art with the music community.