As recent as 2001, I had never made a bullwhip and didn’t really care to do so. I desired to specialize in nylon cow whips only. My philosophy was to be good at one thing and not worry about the rest. My philosophy was soon to change…
Not too long after I was introduced to the Whip Enthusiasts Group, a few brave individuals bought some of my cow whips. After a few of these folks shared their feedback with the rest of the group, the orders began to come in so fast I couldn’t even dream of keeping up with them all. Along with the cow whip orders came inquiries and requests for a Kelley made nylon bullwhip.
Being a the change-resistant person that I am, I tried to stay away from the bullwhip market and focus only on cow whips. That tactic didn’t last long. With a growing demand for nylon bullwhips and a few able plaiters who had developed-or were about to develop- some quality nylon bulls, I had to do something in order to stake my claim on a share of the market. The proverbial icing on the cake was when I checked my emails early one morning to find a new plaiter (Greg DeSaye) introduced to the Whip Enthusiasts Group with a website full of good looking nylon bullwhips. My heart sank! My inner-Capitalist screamed in pain! I knew I could no longer get by without a nylon bullwhip! The Kelley made nylon bullwhip would soon be a reality
I didn’t have much to go on. I knew how to make cow whips, but bullwhips were a bit more difficult. There was no pattern to follow or book I could read to learn exactly what I needed to do to make a good nylon bull. I knew I would have to start from scratch and glean what I could from resources on leather whip making. I ended up buying Ron Edwards’ renowned book, How to Make Whips and I also looked at some of the whip making tutorials by Bernie Wojcicki of EM Brand Whips in Tasmania. After some trial and much error, the first Kelley bullwhip was born!
My first bullwhip prototype was fairly crude. I gave it to my kid brother, figuring he would end up destroying it. He really abused it and I got a first hand look at how my design stood up to the daily thrashing it received. After a few design changes, I finally came up with something that worked better. For the last 7 years, I’ve been shipping my nylon bullwhips all over the world and learning more ways to make my nylon bulls better than ever before.
For what it’s worth, that the story of how I got dragged -kicking and screaming- into the nylon bullwhip market. As I look back and consider that nylon bullwhips are now my best selling whips, it was really foolhardy of me for not trying to develop them as soon as possible. I guess you live and learn.
For more information on ordering a nylon bullwhip, please visit cowwhips.com or email me at Rhettswhips@yahoo.com