These Soles Were Made For Gawkin'

Cover Story
2017
September/October

So a girl walks into a shoe shoppe on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. But this isn’t any regular shoe shoppe; it is a Christian Louboutin shoe boutique.  And this isn’t your regular gal; it is Michelle Manningham, a bubbly pink-haired Texan from Longview. 

What does Michelle tell the sales clerk as she picks up a pair of heels in the chic, red carpeted shoe gallery? “Do you have these in a cowgirl boot?” Needless to say, Michelle left the boutique without a pair of boots, but she most definitely did not leave empty handed. Surrounded by the fashion and beautifully dressed windows, her experience had fueled a dream.“I remember deciding then that I wanted to create something that women would feel beautiful in.  I closed my eyes and envisioned what it would look like walking down the streets of these large cities seeing women in something that I designed. I decided I wanted to design boots.  I always had a love for fashion, so I began to draw my boot sketches in journals.” Fast forward eight years, and this October, Michelle’s boot line, Texi Boots, will begin shipping to anxiously awaiting customers. With flair as unique and distinctive as Michelle, “Texi Boots is about inspiration, passion and a whole lot of sole.” What first stands out on a pair of Texi Boots is their sole. “Sole” is a lovely pun to describe both the hot pink bottom of Texi Boots and the amount of heart and soul that Michelle has put into her boot line. 

Dreams have to start somewhere, and Michelle found that her living room was the perfect setting to make her boot line a reality. “I simply started buying used boots at antique shops, eBay, garage sales or cheap ones I found on the internet and decided I would add my own flare to them and try to re-sell.  I ordered crystals and glue, and remember going to Michaels craft store and buying $200 in random items (lace, pearls, feathers, and anything else I thought would look good glued to a boot), and I came home and got to work.  A day working on boots looked like a day a bomb had gone off at your local craft store.” One boot would take Michelle almost eighty hours to complete, and she decided that she needed help. Three years ago, Michelle enlisted help from her friend, Erika Radar.  “Once or twice a week we would sit on my living room floor watching the Bachelorette, and she would help me glue crystals onto my boots. I never for a second sat there and thought, this chick must think I am nuts, because I just knew somehow, someway, these boots were going to be a success.  Erika will always hold such a dear place in my heart because, besides my family (who also probably thought I was a little nuts at times), she really believed in me and jumped right in to help.”

Working full time and with Erika’s help, Michelle was able to complete a boot in a month. She quickly realized that “no one can live on selling 12 boots a year”. Michelle returned to her sketches. She reached out to Casey Burnette, owner of Casey Curtis Designs, who electronically designed Michelle’s drawings of a pink lined and pink soled boot. After sending over 400 emails of her image to “anyone and everyone on the internet I could find that had anything to do with  leather” Michelle got one hit. She paid the fee to have her sample made. Michelle remembers the agonizing wait to hold her dream in her hands: “It took four months before I received the long awaited box on my door step of THE Texi Boot.  I opened the box, and my heart sank to find probably the ugliest boot I had ever seen in my life *insert tears here*” Even after a second go round with a manufacturer and a sample Texi Boot gone bad, Michelle kept pushing through. She reached out to a lady she had met at the Western Market in Dallas who also happens to be the owner of Miss Macie “a beautiful boot line,” recalls Michelle. “I decided it couldn't hurt to ask if she would do private label for me.  I reached out to her, and she was kind enough to introduce me to the manufacturer that makes her line.” This is where Texi Boots really began to blossom, and Michelle’s attitude of “Glass ceilings are easier to shatter in boots than in heels”
paid off. 

Michelle remembers the day her dreams came true: “The manufacturer was nine hours away (one way) and agreed to meet with me.  I got in my car and drove down there to have the meeting that changed my life forever.  I didn't have any formal written business plan, charts, projections or anything fancy.  I had one design (on my phone), my vision for the brand, and a passion that could have filled an Olympic sized swimming pool.  I believe it was that passion that they felt that day.  They agreed to take on my line over a handshake and a belief in my dream.  I cried the nine-hour drive home because this was a true answer to my prayers. I filed a design patent and trademarked everything I could for the pink soles.”

Because of the kindness shown to Michelle by the lady who owns Miss Macie, Michelle, and her pink Texi Boots are giving back. Michelle’s plan is that “10% of all profit from the brand at the end of the year will go to help another woman entrepreneur start her own business, and the community of Texi-Girls that own a pair of our boots will be a part of voting for that deserving woman.  I think it is so important for women to help support, nurture and encourage one another no matter what step in the dreaming process they are in.  Whether their dream is still sitting in journals or they are working towards it daily, we all need a place we feel safe.  It is my dream to one day host conferences and trainings for women entrepreneurs to talk about the process of taking a dream from your heart to the world.  If we can remove the barriers of fear in our own hearts and set ourselves free, that strength will light a fire within others.  To me, this is so much more than a boot line; however, some will only be interested in beautiful boots.  My entire social media campaign is around "Where can your Texi's take you?" I want women to know that their life can be the beautiful adventure they always imagined if they have the resilience it takes to just keep going.  I think it's time we all dig in our boots and believe in each other.”

 Michelle gives credit of the birth of her dream to true grit, hard work, and God’s ever-present hand. She also thinks it is funny how things happen along the way that just works out. Her personal style of long, pink hair just so happens to coincide with her pink soled Texi Boots. “My pink hair didn't happen because of the boot line (it was more so an impulsive decision two years ago at the hair salon), but isn't it funny how everything seems to work out?  When I got my first boot back, a girl looked at me and said it is you in a boot! It was at that point I realized that the hair fits perfectly with the branding of the hot pink sole.” Just as the pun mentioned before, Michelle herself has a whole lot of sole. Michelle reflects on her personal style: “Beauty is how you feel on the inside, therefore no matter what I wear; first and foremost I am wearing my heart.  Whatever I choose to dress it up with is beautiful, because I believe the heart of a woman
is beautiful.”  

After a long journey of tears, prayers, and kindness shown by others, Michelle’s dream of Texi Boots has become a reality. She gives inspiration to others: “It may take longer than you think, you may have people you love doubt you, belittle you and make you want to pack up your dreams … But don’t! Send the doubters packing instead and chase that little fire in your heart. Because no matter how long you wait … The fire never dies.”

You can preorder your hot pink soled Texi Boots today at www.texiboots.com. Michelle has four more designs in the works and a design for children’s boots to come in 2018. As you start to see Texi Boots adorn the streets of America, keep your eyes peeled; as Michelle says: “Some boots are made for walkin'; these boots were made for gawkin'.” Share your Texi Boots with us here at BSCENE using the hashtags: #texiboots #texigal #bscenemag

 

 

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