About Melissa

Melissa holding a ukulele with The Hug Strap
I am an artist, musician, Pilates instructor, wife, mother, and teacher.  The arts have always interested me and I acquired a BFA in Photography and MFA in Painting, both from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA.

I started playing the ukulele after an ill fated meeting with a rotary cutter that sliced off the side of my finger and left me with reduced feeling and hypersensitivity in my index finger.  I was formerly a guitar player, and after my injury, it was too difficult to adapt to the loss of feeling in my finger with steel strings.

I purchased a purple Kohala ukulele one brutally cold February for my then 3 year old daughter as a way to keep her entertained, thinking I would teach her to play it.  After teaching myself to play it so I could instruct her, I realized I could play easily without my finger bothering me, and was so enamored of the little instrument, I purchased my first ukulele, a blue Magic Fluke Flea.  I couldn't put it down!  What a joy to be able to strum and sing again!

After about 6 months of playing, I was having difficulty playing chord melody songs up the neck because the ukulele kept slipping.  The Flea has an ingenious standing design I didn't want to disrupt by putting a strap button on the bottom of it, and I was very skeptical the traditional hook strap would work for me given my general level of klutziness.  

I created a very basic Velcro loop strap, passing it under the strings to secure it, and then looped it around to the neck so I had a very basic Hug Strap®.  It had numerous flaws, and after playing with it for awhile, I decided that with my sewing skills, I could invent something more usable.  

The current Hug Strap® and the patented All in One Hug Strap are the latest incarnations of about 5 years of toil.  The Hug Strap® since it's birth has been redesigned at least 14 times (possibly more) to make it the most effortless and simplistic I can and still retain a useful design.  I am still tinkering away at them both to see what else I can do to improve them, but I believe these are the essence of what I sought to create years ago.

I am a very small company.  Originally, I would make every strap by hand on my own, but now I work with a few talented individuals, so I can focus on making music and art again.  All straps are handmade made here, in the Philadelphia area, by either myself or three other seamstresses I work with.  I believe in supporting local economies, which is why I have not sought to farm work out overseas.  All other aspects of the business including website design, customer service, shipping, materials sourcing, and other managerial duties are solely mine.  Thank you so much for checking out my tiny company and for choosing to support it.  I am grateful for my customers and ukulele enthusiasts.