What inspired you to become a bootmaker?
After learning to masterfully repair boots and working as a cobbler for many years, I was seeing the quality of high-end factory made boots rapidly deteriorate. Because I wear boots I decided that if I want to keep wearing high quality boots, I would have to learn to make them myself. Now (25-years later) I have a 2-year backlog and I don’t have time to make myself a desperately needed new pair of boots.
Who were your teachers? What was it like to learn from them?
Joseph Schuman was the master who taught me the trade of repairing boots and Jack Reed taught me how to make boots. Along the way, I have had many other masters teach me different aspects of bootmaking and some of what I know was self taught.
What were some of your early struggles and successes as a young bootmaker?
Learning not to strive for perfection because that will always end with disappointment but rather, to strive for progress. At the end of making a pair of boots, if my quality is better or I have progressed from the last pair that I made, then I am completely satisfied.
What advice would you give to young bootmakers just starting out?
To be completely present when making boots, so much so that they become one with the Boot-ha through their practice of Boot-ism.
What are your hopes and expectations for the future of the craft?
It is my hope that one day I will find an apprentice who is willing to put in the time to learn the craft of bootmaking and be willing to take over my Main Street boot shop to continue its existence into the future when I am no more.
Michael Anthony Boots
The Cowboy Bootmakers. Memories and photos collected by Dana Perrotti, 2019.