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Meet JT Bruns of Soft Daddy Leather

Today we’d like to introduce you to JT Bruns.

Joe, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m an artist, designer, and am interested in object-making. I’ve made clothing and accessories for years, but it wasn’t until about two years ago that I started getting really interested in harnesses. When I started the brand, it was about having an awareness of one’s physical posture and correcting it, which in turn enhanced confidence while creating a powerful visual statement.

A few years ago, I was at the Tom of Finland Foundation (which has significant ties to the leather community) and was asked to put on a harness for a photograph. Before that point, I think it would be fair to say I felt “leather-shy” in addition to having social anxiety and body insecurities. In a sort of rushed panic, I strapped on the harness. To my complete surprise, I found I was standing up taller and felt like a more powerful version of myself – genuinely confident.

Shortly after this, I began making prototypes and experimenting with different materials to create my own harnesses. Somewhere along the way decided I wanted to help others to “harness” their own confidence and power through accessories.

I knew I wanted to reach a bigger audience, one that wasn’t limited to the traditional leather community. When I put on my first piece, there was a transformation into something unknown and exciting… something very Daddy. While that was enjoyable, I wanted to move beyond those more traditional conventions and begin to explore how I could erode some of the hyper-masculine aspects of (leather) culture and be more inclusive.

I wanted to share this powerful feeling, almost a “daddy-like” confidence, with a broad range of people – different personalities, races, bodies, gender identities. Soft Daddy’s name came from this idea of taking the power of “daddy” and softening some of its limitations to a point where ideally any person could tap into that powerful and confident feeling. It’s much healthier and productive to focus on celebration and individuality, not exclusion and conformity.

So here at Soft Daddy, we say YES to fats, YES to femmes, YES to GNC folks, YES to all those people who don’t feel they fit into the restricted roles our culture seems to offer. Everyone can use a power-accessory, and Soft Daddy was conceived explicitly for that purpose. 

Has it been a smooth road?
There are a lot of struggles when you’re a baby brand in a very saturated world, but we’ve maintained a pattern of growth which fuels me to keep designing and making. Soft Daddy has been an incredible amount of work, but luckily it’s almost all enjoyable work. Finding a balance between making and selling has been an interesting struggle.

Entrepreneurship is not a natural skill set for me, so I’ve had to challenge myself to be more social and focus on the business end of things, even when I’d rather be designing, experimenting and making. That said, I’m fortunate to have had so many awesome past clients who come back and refer friends to Soft Daddy.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Soft Daddy Leather – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Soft Daddy Leather is an apparel and accessory company specializing in luxury and custom leather and vegan harnesses. We make superior, luxury accessories using bold colors, metallics, holographic, and unusual prints. Our products range from cuffs and crowns to pins and bandanas.

While there is a consistent stock of Soft Daddy harnesses, we offer custom work which keeps us pretty occupied. Custom work and getting to collaboratively design with clients is what I think sets us apart from other leather and harnesses manufacturers. The custom pieces tend to be some of my favorite pieces, too. Curious? Shoot us an email or slide into our DMs!

A big part of the brand and what makes us special is that Soft Daddy accessories and harnesses have attitude and break conventions, just like our clients. The thing I’m most proud of is the quality of the work – the craftsmanship involved in making each piece and the innovative materials used to make them.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and the least?
Los Angeles has so much diversity and so many creative opportunities. LA’s combination of having a large LGBTQIA+ community and a visible, supportive leather community allowed me to make a brand that could help serve others.

While Soft Daddy’s products aren’t intended to be a fetish-wear per se, the leather community and other queer makers have helped me from the beginning. DTLA is also pure magic to me, with so much happening. It’s the best place in the world to find textiles, fabrics, and leathers.

What’s next for Soft Daddy?
We just launched a prismatic line at the brand new queer retail space, A Love Bizzare, inside Bar Franca downtown. It’s a truly magical space, and we’re so proud to be represented there. We’re also teaming up with Gearworxx for RuPaul’s Drag Con at the end of May. If you find yourself there, please swing by!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Francis Gum, Jeremy Lucido, Filthy George, Jaci V, Gabriel Gastelum and Harvey Opgenorth

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Dianne O

    May 7, 2019 at 13:26

    Congratulations to you Joe!…Didn’t know you were working on such a great project!

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