Vidhya Iyer got her start in boot design when her daughters took up riding years ago. She created the patterns and designs herself and then had the boots professionally cobbled in India, the home country of Iyer and her husband.
The couple has lived in West Lafayette for over two decades, but Iyer’s ties to India have remained strong. About four years ago she turned her hobby of boot design into Bootmakers, a company that sells high-end dress, polo and riding boots. Like her daughters’ boots, the pieces are still cobbled in India. In fact, Iyer has a network of skilled craftsman around the country working with her.
The polo-playing and riding community constitutes a large segment of Iyer’s customer base, so in a way, the company’s ties to India are symbolic as well as practical.
“Polo was started in India,” Iyer said. “It started in a state called Manipur, and the British co-opted it at some point. Polo is a very big deal there.”
While Bootmakers chiefly supplies equestrian markets, Iyer said she has a variety of clients from all over that buy from her for different reasons.
Iyer’s boots are so comfortable and sought after because they are custom made, which means they can be designed to accommodate unusual feet.
“We have a woman who buys from us who has the foot size of a 10-year-old. She lived in Texas and everyone was wearing boots and she wanted boots,” Iyer said.
As Iyer’s business has grown she’s added more styles and expanded her network of cobblers and craftsmen throughout India.
Bootmakers also will soon offer semi-custom boots and shoes. Some people don’t want to wait the six to eight weeks it takes to deliver a pair of custom boots, Iyer said, so this line will be for them. Iyer’s upcoming fall line is called Suzani, inspired by a needlework style popular in Central Asia.
Iyer said she enjoys the creativity boot and shoe design has brought to her life, but most of all she likes outfitting her customers with one-of-a-kind boots that bring them comfort and confidence.
“Making people happy makes me happy,” Iyer said.
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