When Nicole Elliott’s conventional camera strap gave her severe shoulder and neck pain she decided to do something about it by designing an alternative that has been aimed at fellow women photographers.

IN LIFE THERE ARE TWO WAYS of dealing with a problem. You can complain but put up with it or you can do something about it, and when photographer Nicole Elliott finally decided that she’d had enough of the conventional camera strap that was digging into her shoulder and making her neck ache she sat down and came up with a clever and time-proven solution that has since turned into a highly successful commercial product in its own right.

“I’ve been in the photography industry for over twenty years,” she says, “and I’ve seen and used lots of different gear. I had come to a point in my photography journey where my camera had become an extension of me, a tool that was part of my creative spirit. However, the shoulder and neck pain from a conventional camera strap digging into your neck all day plus the annoyance of losing lens caps and having no place to store memory cards and batteries was all starting to hinder my creative flow.

“I knew there had to be a better way to carry a camera around, especially for female photographers. My mother is Ecuadorian and I took inspiration from the women that I saw in that country who are able to carry much heavier loads with ease by wrapping a shawl around their shoulders. My solution was to design a strap that taps into a concept that’s been around for centuries to take away the shoulder and neck pain by hugging your shoulder and making your camera feel virtually weightless. It can also store your lens caps, batteries and memory cards in a single all-in-one streamlined design.”

Initially Nicole’s idea was something of a home-spun affair. She admits that she knew nothing about designing,  developing, manufacturing and distributing a product from scratch and, at first, she struggled. “One day however I came to the realisation that I didn’t have to have it all figured out. I simplified my steps so that, instead of needing to figure out the next 100 steps, I just decided to figure out the next three.

“So, after a few months of gathering as  much info as I could, I took the decision to go and do. Enter my mom in law, who’s a hobbyist seamstress. I drew the design out, went to the fabric store and created our first prototype! From there I found a manufacturer and then brought it to market and hit the ground running.”

Working with Blackrapid

While the concept was clearly a winner from the very beginning, there were still lots of obstacles in the way of the unwary entrepreneur and, after launching her product in 2016, initially to a great response, Nicole admits that some time later she found herself struggling to see her way.

“That’s when God put Blackrapid in my path,” she says. “After a phone call and a visit to the Seattle warehouse with owner and inventor, Ron Henry, they decided to bring me onboard and to take this journey with me. They added their patented glide system, fine-tuned my shoulder piece and put together one incredible product. I am forever grateful that such a world-renowned camera strap company would have taken a small-town mom of four, seen the potential in her and then linked arms to get this product out into the world!”

It’s been a relationship that’s flourished ever since and now Nicole’s strap is firmly established as a proven product that works fantastically well, making it possible to shoot for hours without feeling fatigue, discomfort or pain. It’s a shining example of problem solving achieved through experience.

Demonstrating the thought that’s gone into the product, the strap features two pockets for lens caps and two zippered pockets for memory cards, batteries and whatever other small accssories you might need on a shoot. It can also extend to 63ins in length to ft any body type and there’s a release trigger snap hook that locks in place when hooked to the 1/4” screw that attaches securely to the bottom of the camera.

Cost of the product is a highly affordable £82 and it’s changed the lives of countless women photographers around the world ever since it first came to market.

The strap is available from www.BLACKRAPID.co.uk and all other BLACKRAPID stockists

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