Well, it's a New Year and I hope 2012 will be a really happy one for you. And...
I think I can contribute a little towards that happening.
Gadget Bags (a.k.a. Camera Bags), the Beast Duffel and more launch today. (I'm giving away a Beast Duffel Bag and it's not hard to win.)
Saddleback is heading back to Africa in a few days.
Our Rwandan son, Athanase, is the subject of a short documentary in Park City.
Valentine's Day gift ideas - You can't go wrong with Suzette's Love 41 products.
New Designs - Introducing new design features with the (camera bags) and Gadget Bags. And the 8 inch and 10 inch Dry Bags are even better at protecting cameras and electronics. Oh, and there are also reports that the Beast Duffel has been spotted. And other cool leather things you've never seen before. Read and see more...
The Beast Duffel Giveaway - Want a Beast Duffel for free? All you have to do is come up with the coolest or best use for my new Utility Straps. Read more...
Rwanda 2012 - We're heading back to Rwanda, Africa to continue our work with Africa New Life and see what more Saddleback can do in Bugesera. They recently acquired a new school and we're going to help them establish it in the village. Read more...
Our Son's Story - Our own Rwandan son is the subject of an 8 ½ min. documentary that recently screened at the inaugural Paradigm Film Project alongside the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. We're very proud parents… Watch it and read more...
Valentine's Day - Guys, if you screwed up Valentine's Day last year, this is your chance for redemption. I've got the secret that will make you a V-Day hero. Suzette calls it Love 41 - Where Receiving is Giving. Read more...
Happy New Year
I'm introducing two new design features today that you'll be seeing from now on, here and there. One is the flap on the new camera bags (a.k.a. Gadget Bags) and the other is the cool way of closing the Cable Bag. Check out the Beast Duffel videos in the wild and in captivity, the small, medium and large single-strap Dry Bags (even more protective for cameras and electronics), the Utility Straps in three sizes and Suzette's Belt Pouches. As I'm sure you know, if neither Suzette nor I love it, you'll never see it. Life's too short to make mediocre things.
Since 2006, I've had to use various lame-o generic looking camera bags that screamed "CAMERA BAG!!! TAKE ME!!! I HAVE A NICE CAMERA INSIDE HERE, BUT NO ONE MAKES A NICE BAG AND SO I'M USING THIS ONE". I've spent hundreds of hours researching and designing and then spent countless hours of other peoples' time prototyping those designs. Though I could have started selling camera bags a couple of years ago, I knew that I would've been settling. But when this design came floating by, I knew it was the one.
The website tells you all of the specific dimensions and details of what fits in the 3 sizes, but here's the Large Gadget Bag as an example. It fits my Nikon D3s body with an attached 24-70mm lens and a 70-200mm lens and a 14-24mm lens and an SB-800 flash and a cable bag filled with extra batteries, filters and memory cards. I was able to fit more in there because I used a long protective padded leather wrap to protect my stuff in the unlined bag instead of using an insert that wastes tons of valuable space. And I can use it for other stuff when I'm not traveling with my camera. Around town I use the Medium Gadget Bag and the Small for accessories.
8 inch and 10 inch Dry Bags
The idea for the Small Dry Bags came from their big brother, the 20" three-strap Waterbag. It took me three years to get that bag right and I can't think of any way to make it better than it is. These bags are a smaller version of that design, but with one strap and the top rolls down more. The most protection you could give your camera and other electronics from dust, sand and rain.
I'm also launching the Cable Bag. It's just a really simple bag for keeping all your cords and chargers organized so you can find what you need, when you need it. Pretty profound concept. I like to load it with my charger, spare batteries, extra memory cards and a download cable and stick it in my large Gadget Bag with my camera gear. If you had to, you could fit 16 of these filled with gold coins, into a medium briefcase.
The Utility Straps are just plain cool. I created them because I like them and wanted to use them with my camera stuff and to attach things to my bag. I just used them to attach my sandals to the bottom of my backpack on a recent work trip to Mexico since I packed everything I needed for my three day trip in there and my sandals wouldn't fit. Use them for hanging tools in the garage or for tying things on. The d-rings close the strap like the two d-rings on a motorcycle helmet.
Suzette's Belt Pouches have been available with her Classic and Wide belts for a while. But now we're selling them on their own so you can string a few of them together on your belt. Suzette likes to mix and match sizes on her belt. It's a good look. Then again there's not a lot that doesn't look good on her (my wife is hot).
The Beast Duffel
We did a soft launch of The Beast on the Saddleback Facebook page a couple weeks ago, but now it's official. The Beast is on the loose. This bag fits a lot or a little and it's one of the bags we use to travel the world.
The Beast Duffel Giveaway
I want to give you a Beast Duffel Bag. All you have to do is come up with the coolest way to use my new Utility Straps. I designed them to lash, secure, connect, fix and carry just about anything, anywhere. I also use them to hang rakes and tools in the garage. But I don't want to put too many ideas in your head. Post your videos of cool new or good solid standard uses you come up with for your straps. It goes like this:
The Grand Prize is a Beast Duffel in the color of your choice. Second place gets a $250 Saddleback gift card.
The giveaway starts Feb. 1, and ends March 31, 2012.
Videos (or slideshows) must be uploaded to YouTube before submission. All videos (or slideshows) must be titled, "How to use your Utility Straps by Saddleback Leather" and tagged with the keywords, "straps," "leather," "how to," and "Saddleback Leather."
Videos (or slideshows) must not exceed 120 seconds (2 minutes).
The YouTube link must be submitted by email to email@example.com by midnight (Texas time) on 3/31/12.
The winning video will be judged by Dave and a select panel of seasoned Utility Strap judges.
And for those of you who use blow dryers in the bathtub, read the following very carefully. Anyone who doesn't follow the giveaway rules, exactly as described above, will be disqualified or packed in a Beast Duffel and shipped to an undisclosed location.
Back to Africa
We're headed back to Africa for a few days to see how Saddleback can work with a new school given to Africa New Life. One of their other schools is ranked #1 in the entire country, so we're excited Saddleback can play a part in changing the lives and the country through this school in Bugesera. We're also planning to meet the newest additions to our family, Mpinganzima Yvette, and Uwingabire Delphine. They are Rwandan girls, ages seven and eight. Suzette and I sponsored them. We were only able to sponsor them because of Saddleback and we're real excited to meet them.
There are over seven thousand street kids in Kigali (capital of Rwanda). The government is doing a fantastic job giving them alternatives to sleeping in the city dump and eating garbage to survive. And Saddleback is trying to help. And you can help too. Check out Africa New Life for more info. When these kids know that someone actually thinks about them, it changes something deep within.
Pretty cool to see so much positive change happening over there. And even more so now that Love 41 (My hot wife's company) launched this past October. 100% of Love41 profits go to helping orphans, widows and street kids. It's like a giant fire hose of Love spraying directly on Rwanda.
Our Son in a Documentary Film
Our Rwandan son, Athanase, is the subject of a short documentary, done by Ryan Youngblood, that was recently screened at the inaugural Paradigm Film Project in Park City, Utah along with the Sundance Film Festival. Athanase grew up an orphan and lived in a garbage dump since he was 4. He did and sold drugs and sniffed glue so he could sleep through the cold nights. He was a pimp and a criminal. He dodged many AK-47 bullets growing up, but then started attending the Africa New Life Street Kids Ministry and life began to change. Africa New Life gave him a stable foundation and introduced him to things like dignity and hope. He has turned into a very cool guy and we're really proud to call him our son.
Guys, this is your official two week warning for Valentine's Day. Head on over to Love41.com and pick up something cool for your hot wife or girlfriend. Suzette's been hard at work designing some great new stuff (she's really talented), so head over and check it out. For all you ladies reading this newsletter over your man's shoulder, we've got new leather designs on the site today, and of course, all the classics he's been drooling over for months now. My new Utility Straps make for great Valentine's Day gifts. I'll leave that one without further comment.
Every Product We Sell
Ever wondered what it would be like to see every Saddleback Leather piece at one time? This video also gives you a sneak peak of upcoming items, too. If you want to watch all the videos we've posted, visit our YouTube channel.
One Last Thing... I sense that my Chocolate Lab is wanting me to tell you something. Just a minute... Okay, here it is.
"Hi. My name is Chi Chi and, just so you know, my master is really good to me. He even took me to a pond the other day to go swimming. I didn't know it, but I LOVE to swim. Anyways, he says that he's going to give me the "Collar of a Lifetime" when I stop growing. He'll probably take pictures of it. He always does that. And, I know I don't know you, but I love you too. I love everybody."