Back in January, when we at Out & About were producing our first business directory and travel guide for our February issue, we spent a lot of time brainstorming about our cover. We needed something that spoke to both Nashville’s reputation, as well as to symbolizing the LGBTQ community.
Nashville may not be a cowboy town, but with its country music roots and smaller-town history, cowboy boots are something many visitors especially associate with the city. And you see them on tourists, who pick them up in town, as well as on the red carpets. And, of course, the rainbow is the emblem of the LGBTQ community. So, rainbow cowboy boots.
The search for that perfect pair of boots took us FAR from the promise of the ‘Buy One, Get Two Free’ special hawked to tourists from billboards. In fact, it took us all the way to Cody, Wyoming, to master bootmaker Scott Emmerich, and his Falconhead Boots, Belts, & Buckles / Tres Outlaws brand—where a custom pair of handmade boots can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. In fact, the boots on our cover were a custom pair he made for a personal friend: made of vegetable tanned Kangaroo leather, these boots would have a retail value of $8,000.
Emmerich started his career as a bootmaker with a small shop in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1981. “In the beginning,” he told one interviewer, “it was basically just custom handmade boots and matching belts, then came buckles.” As his business grew, he moved to progressively larger stores. “I went from less than 50 handmade pairs of boots … to thousands.”
Over time, his name became synonymous with the best-made, flashy cowboy boot, and he drew the attention of many in the entertainment and music industries. While his boots have graced many Nashville artists, Emmerich maintains a confidentiality code with his customers. And that makes sense as his custom boots are very personally tuned to specific clients.
When Emmerich makes a custom pair of boots, he sends out a bio-foam kit to get impressions of the client’s feet. Then he designs the boots based on the customer’s physiology. The real creativity comes in conveying the personality of the client through a story-boarded creative process. “The design tells the story of each customer in a master designed boot.”
Those wishing to have a custom pair designed would begin the process by contacting him using the information on his site, shopfalconhead.com, beginning the process. Then, after the foam impressions are taken, clients work with Emmerich, giving him details about what they want in a design. Depending on the detail and design, the process can take 4 to 8 weeks at that point. Tooling one of his boots, Emmerich says, “is extensive and time consuming.” And if you visit his website, you’ll see why: the exquisite detail in event the boots he stocks is amazing. The artistry, and the materials, of course, means that custom boots will run somewhere between $2,500 and $25,000 in most cases.
But do check out what he’s stocking on his site, and if you ever find yourself in Cody, Wyoming, you can also visit his store to see them in person.