The Bison Boa Story

Bison Boa isn’t a brand that was calculated in a boardroom…..

I’m Morgan Cruick, Bison Boa founder, MD, designer, grafter, writer, photographer, accountant, dogsbody and teaboy. The Bison Boa story begins in summer 2013 in a Newcastle coffee shop in the North of England, where a light-hearted chat was had. The chat was about a great leather mandolin strap I’d just purchased for someone as a birthday present. The conversation went along the lines of the strap being ‘really nice, but probably not that hard to make’. Inevitably the conversation turned towards, “well, maybe try and make one then?” Agreed! However, it was going to be a guitar strap to match the electric guitar I’d recently made myself.

Morgan Cruick, Bison Boa Founder.
Morgan Cruick, Founder.

Getting characteristically carried away, by the time the coffee and cake was finished, a leathercraft store had been Googled within walking distance (super lucky because there was only 2-3 in the country at the time), and the name for this hypothetical strap was decided. The very first name that came to mind was ‘Bison Boa’, you know, Bison as in the big leathery critter, and Boa, as in the thing that goes round your neck….. Bison Boa.

A couple of hours later, just over £90 worth of cheap entry level leather tools and some hideous leather offcuts had been acquired. While the idea that the guitar strap would be ‘easy’ to make was rapidly shot down in flames, non-the-less, a few days later a wonky ‘guitar strap’, the Bison Boa, was born. In all honesty, it certainly wasn’t close to being the best guitar strap, and it definitely wasn’t high craft, it was poor, but for some unknown reason, strap making was casually continued.

The first ever Bison Boa leather guitar strap.
 Bison Boa's first 'guitar strap'. Where it all started.

By the time a year had rolled past, merchants had been visited, tanneries called, blisters formed, lots of leather cut and prototypes made, the Bison Boa ‘Relic Ready’ (mk1) had been launched! It took six weeks before the first one sold, which seemed like a total result at the time, but slowly and surely, more straps sold, kind words were said and the snowball grew. If that leathercraft shop wasn’t within walking distance from the coffee shop, who knows if Bison Boa would have ever existed, but fast forward to the time of writing, and a few thousand guitar straps later, Bison Boa has come a long way from that first ‘strap’.

These days we’re really making the good stuff. Yes, I’m obviously going to say that, I know, I know, but it’s really true! We’re still passionately UK designed and made by a small team with an obsession for standards and the finest materials we can get our hands on. From the leather, to the build, to the packaging, there are absolutely no shortcuts taken. It’s all about the product.

A bucket full of punched leather from making the Buffalo King guitar strap.
 A full bucket of 'leather eclairs' from knocking out the slots on a batch of Buffalo King. There have been many buckets over the years.

I’m proud to say Bison Boa is also still evolving. It’s rare a day goes by without me designing something and planning where I want take the brand in the future. Schemes are afoot. Plans are certainly drafted. Plots have definitely been made. The wheels are turning..…

Take a look around and stay in touch.

Morgan Cruick.