Sorrell Custom Boots
Tell us about your business.I'm an artist and master boot maker. I work alone in my Oklahoma studio with limited machinery and no employees, although I do accept students and teach classes. My journey to becoming a boot maker began with answering an ad for "someone to stitch boot tops." Later I paid tuition to another bootmaker to learn the entire process and put in a lengthy stint as an unpaid apprentice. I opened my own business, Sorrell Custom Boots, in 1996. I build every pair of boots, each pair commissioned by a client and requiring a personal meeting for measuring. Reflecting my love for music, my boots are named after bluegrass or classic country song titles. I enjoy introducing new people to the craft of cowboy boot making. Cowboy boots are more than working gear for cowboys; they are America's heritage footwear and a unique way to express personality. My work is a fresh and modern interpretation of vintage influences.
What makes your business stand out?My favorite thing about my business is that I can offer my clients something unique and personalized. I enjoy meeting each one, learning about their color and design preferences, and creating a beautiful boot especially for them. Each pair of boots pictured here has a history--my remembrances of that client and their reasons for ordering the boots. I love that my clients tell me stories about their boots, what they did, where they went, and who they met while they were wearing their boots. There's an emotional connection to cowboy boots that inspires my clients and enriches my life.
What's the best business advice you've received?Jay Griffith, my first boot making mentor, told me once that a cowboy boot should be "purty." He built sturdy boots that would take abuse and he taught me to do the same, but he always tried to make them beautiful also. I love creating something so utilitarian and functional but at the same time elegant and pleasing. I tell my clients that the art on cowboy boot tops is like lingerie; they know it's there and they feel pretty but not everyone gets to see it.
Mark Your Calendar
NominationsJune 3–Aug. 29, 2014
Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.
JudgingJune 23–Sept. 8, 2014
Judges will select finalists throughout this period.
Online VotingSept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014
Vote for your favorite American makers.
Winners AnnouncedOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.
American Made EventNov. 7–8, 2014
Join us for our annual event in New York City.