Women in the Industry
This month in our spotlight of Women in the Industry, we would like to introduce to you the owner of Flashbang Holsters LISA LOOPER. With a background in fashion, Lisa has created a successful company creating gear with women in mind.
Sure Shots Magazine: Please tell us a little about your company, Flashbang Holsters.
Lisa Looper: Flashbang Holsters is a small family business located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We proudly make all of our holsters and belts in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - the nation’s heartland!
SSM: How long has your company been in business?
LL: Our company as a whole was founded in 1938 by my husband’s grandfather. He’s a third generation business owner with Looper Leather Goods, our parent company. I started toying with the idea for the Flashbang around 2007 and then began to pursue it in earnest in 2009. We actually brought the Flashbang to the 2011 NRA Annual Meeting (first time we sold it publicly) and I remember that we sold exactly 42 that weekend.
SSM: Have you always been involved in the shooting/tactical/firearms community?
LL: No I haven’t! My dad tried so hard to get me interested in shooting when I was young, but I really thought guns were scary and loud. It wasn’t until I married my husband and started working in our family business that I tried shooting for the first time.
SSM: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
LL: I’m a wife, a mommy, a sister, a daughter . . . just the typical chick you’d meet at church, or your kid’s soccer match. I’m a lot like almost everyone who will read this. There’s nothing about me that screams “tactical” and no one who ever met me would ever think I carried a gun as part of my daily life. For a long time, I didn’t. All through college I was a manicurist. I worked in a salon and my life absolutely revolved around fashion! That’s something that has never left me.
I met my husband on the football field. We were both working in the sports medicine department at the University of Oklahoma. We fell in love and got married in December of 2000. Bart (my husband) began working in the family business, Looper Leather Goods, full time shortly after we got married, and while I was still doing nails at the salon, I realized I wanted to be part of things too. It was a SERIOUS culture shock for me!!! While my family owned firearms when I was growing up, I never took any interest in them. I knew basic gun safety, but the part that stuck with me was DON’T TOUCH THEM! I was scared of guns. This only began to change for me after I had my first son. In the face of danger, my plan had always been to run away. Having a little baby to protect made me rethink my whole game plan.
SSM: What made you decide to start Flashing Holsters?
LL: When I bought my first gun, the only concealed carry options for women were either a traditional holster, or a purse. As I am sure many of your readers have already discovered, the holsters that were designed for a man's body rarely work well for women! I didn't want to change the way I dressed to accommodate a bulk holster, so I started experimenting with options. I realized that no matter what I was wearing, there was small space just below my bustline that provided a great place to hide a gun. Accessibility and safety were my primary concerns, and that's when the Flashbang Holster was born.
The funny part about all this is that I never planned to create a holster line, let alone a holster company! The Flashbang was entirely a heart project. It was something I made because *I* needed it! As my friends started hearing about it, they wanted holsters too. We made a few, and then we took my original holster to a huge industry trade show called the SHOT Show (Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trades) to get opinions from people who were much more tactically trained than I was. The reviews were off the chart! Everyone loved it. So many people were talking about it, that the media got wind of this “new bra holster for women” and we had to make a call to the patent attorney from SHOT Show to begin the patent process before it was all over the internet!
SSM: What is the best part of your job?
LL: I really enjoy having the opportunity to meet and talk with some truly amazing people. Vicki Farnam, Kathy Jackson, Melody Lauer . . . so many talented and inspirational women!
SSM: Have there been any lessons your work life taught you?
LL: I’ve learned that asking questions and listening a LOT are some of the most important things a person can do. Every person out there has something they can teach you if you just pay attention and ask the right questions.
SSM: So, if you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
LL: Teddy Roosevelt. He has so many qualities that I admire! His quotes and life philosophies are a very central part of how I try to run my business and live my life. A few of my favorite are:
“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.”
“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
“Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!”
“Politeness [is] a sign of dignity, not subservience.”
“When you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on”
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
SSM: What is your primary weapon and why?
LL: My mind is my primary weapon. Women in particular are notorious for walking around completely distracted. We're wrangling kids, digging in purses for keys, talking on the phone or texting, etc. We pay very little attention to our surroundings. Bad guys don’t just materialize out of thin air. They’re standing outside of our immediate surroundings and observing their potential victims. Simply having our heads up, and making eye contact (that “I see you”) is oftentimes all it takes to no longer be considered a target. Predators want easy prey. If you’re aware of them, you have a distinct advantage that takes you out of the “easy victim” category.
SSM: What do our readers have to look forward to in the future from Flashbang Holsters?
LL: World domination!!!!! Just kidding . . . We’re always trying to find solutions to the common problems people face when trying to carry a gun. The holsters we come out with are carry options that add comfort, safety, accessibility, we’ll just keep doing more of the same!
SSM: What is the best shooting advice you have been given that you feel might be important to share with our readers?
LL: Try before you buy! There isn’t a specific gun that’s better than all the rest. There isn’t one gun that I can recommend across the board. Every person has different physical traits and their own strengths/weaknesses that make specific guns better or worse for them. Do your research and then borrow or rent the guns you’re considering before making a purchase. Definitely get a feel for the gun in your hand, and while firing before making that financial commitment. I like to compare the process to something most women can relate to - choosing a wedding dress! While all those dresses are beautiful, and they make a girl feel like a princess, when you find the right one, you know it! So, get your hands on as many firearms as you can and just wait for that “Wedding Dress Moment.”
SSM: Where do you see Flashbang Holsters in 5 years?
LL: In five years, I see us still going strong! The women’s side of the industry is growing like never before. It’s really exciting to be a part of that growth.
SSM: And for our final question… If you could be any character in a movie to be who would it be & why?
LL: James Bond, of course! Who wouldn’t want to play with all those cool gadgets?
By Tally Tripp
I learned about the San Antonio Sure Shots when I saw a feature on the local news. I had become curious about guns generally, but had not had any real experience with them other than rifles at summer camp as a kid. I knew that owning and properly handling a gun requires a commitment to responsibility and safety. I didn’t want to just go out and buy one or even take a CHL class without fully understanding how they work and how to use them safely.
At first, the prospect of attending a Sure Shots practice was intimidating. The ladies I saw in the news feature seemed to have experience and proficient skills. I wasn’t sure if showing up as a newbie with zero knowledge about guns, ammo, range gear would be okay, but in April 2014 I decided to check out a practice. The group of ladies, led by San Antonio chapter leader Becca Spinks, were all welcoming, and my inexperience was never an issue, even when I embarrassingly called the magazine a “clip”, thanks to pop culture and song lyrics.
Becca walked me through every step of getting ready for the range , picking out a .22 to rent, as well as all the other range gear I’d need, explained the Four Rules of Gun Safety as well as the rules of the range. My first practice had a funny twist, which I wasn’t fully aware of at the time: That day at the range, the pistol bay was closed for maintenance and we ended up having practice in the rifle bay. I learned later that the man in the lane next to me was shooting a very loud .308, and Becca said I handled it like a boss. That helped build my confidence and my continued interest in improving my skills.
I’m now a regular at Sure Shots practices, and my shooting has definitely improved!
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