Steel Weather: Navigating COVID shutdowns with e-commerce

How we started

Kyle Rasmussen and his death metal band Vitriol planned to have a very different 2020. When the band’s tours cancelled due to COVID, Kyle and his partner Sofia Huerta took things into their own hands. They reached out to me through Vitrol’s manager Mark Vieira to figure out how to go from zero to e-commerce.

They decided to create Steel Weather, a business built around the entirely custom-built, aggressively spiked guitar straps Kyle would wear onstage. I had so much fun working on every aspect of the site, from concept to creation and everything in between. When their first drop sold out in 3 days, I knew we’d hit the right buttons. Here’s how we did it.

Concept and brand identity

Kyle and Sofia have incredible vision and a very clear sense of what Steel Weather would be all about. They needed a web developer and designer like me to help them focus their energy and start the right fires.

We started out with a branding design process. Steel Weather had a logo already designed, as well as some illustrations for future t-shirts. After a design consultation, I created a brand style guide to create a visual language to communicate who they are.

Who needs minimalism when you can have maximalism instead?

I added a metal texture to their existing logo to reflect the chrome of the spikes they use. I also added some industrial texture through rust. The leather and reptile textures reflect the textures of the high quality marine vinyl they use in their guitar strap and accessory designs.

It would be easy to pull the harshness all the way through in the visual design and leave it at that, but I felt it was important to reflect the luxury inherent within their work as well. Their t-shirt fabrics are high quality. They hand-stitch their flagship design of guitar straps, and include a great deal of consideration of comfort in the design. They look brutal, but feel divine. In that spirit, I chose Playfair Display as the headline font to provide a sense of classic sophistication.

Website design

Here’s how it all came together:

Screenshot of the homepage


A customer was trying to make a purchase before I had even finished adding the ability to accept credit cards. That’s when I knew that, by our powers combined, Steel Weather found the magic to turn Kyle and Sofia’s 2020 COVID year around.

We decided to use WordPress and WooCommerce to power the site. There are a lot of options out there, but for the customized experience we were looking to deliver, WordPress and WooCommerce were exactly what we needed.

All the guitar straps you see here were sold out within 3 days of going live.

The Feedback

It was incredibly important to me that Kyle and Sofia ended up with a site that they loved, and would bring their vision for Steel Weather to life. Here’s what they had to say about their experience:

The preliminary work that you did before we even started in on the website was thorough and made us feel respected – e.g. getting to know more about us, our brand and its mission, and our aesthetic ambitions for the site well before we got into the nitty-gritty actually building the site itself.

We wholeheartedly believed that you wanted us to be happy with our website, so we felt at ease mentioning when we wanted to make changes or move in a different direction. On all counts, working with you was a genuine pleasure.

Whether or not you felt it, you seemed consistently to be in a good mood. You were unfailingly upbeat, which had an infectious quality. After a long and tiring work day, chatting about the website could easily have felt like a chore, but your kindliness and charm made those Skype sessions feel fun and uplifting. More than that, you really went above and beyond in helping us to get all of the kinks worked out in our new site, particularly where shipping plug-ins were concerned. Your continued support, even after the completion of the website, has been a source of great comfort.
The achievement was a beautiful website that offers our customers a comprehensive experience of our brand and its identity, but we also forged what we hope will be a long-term working relationship!
Sofia Huerta, Steel Weather

Can I help bring your dream to life?

Kyle and Sofia created a successful e-commerce business despite the ongoing global pandemic. Send me a message so I can help you do the same!

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